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Health & Fitness: More ‘Bang for Your Buck’ Workouts

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By Kim Duke, NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer

We’re busier than ever and most of us don’t have an hour or more to work each muscle group two to three times a week, as well as fit in another hour of cardio, as the guidelines suggest.

The good news is you don’t need hours to get in a quality, total body workout that includes cardio, strength, balance, core, and stability training.

There are many exercises that are time efficient and effective and are exactly what you need to work your entire body in a short, intense workout.  Here is why:

• Target multiple muscle groups at once- the more muscles you work, the higher the intensity and the more calories you burn both during and after your workout.

• Functional-Your muscles don’t work in isolation in the real world, so why should you work them that way in your workouts? These moves mimic the real-life activities we do on a regular basis, from picking up groceries to pushing open doors while our hands are full.

• Efficient- Any time you can work more than one muscle at a time, you shave off precious time from your workout, making a busy schedule one more obstacles you can cross off your list.

• Intense- if you’re short on time, the one thing you want to focus on is intensity. The harder you work, the greater the afterburn.

The following are just a few of the many exercises that will give you a better bang for your buck:

Squat with overhead press- this is a total body, compound exercise targeting all the muscles of the lower body, as well as the shoulders. Because you’re combining an upper and a lower body move in the same exercise, your workout becomes more functional, more efficient, and more effective. The more muscle groups you involve, the more calories you burn and the more weight you lose.

If you’re new to this exercise, start with a light or moderate weight, 5-10 pounds for women and 10-20 pounds for men.

• Begin with the weights over the shoulders, elbows bent, and feet about hip-width apart.

• Squat down, sending the hips back and keeping the chest up and the abs engaged.

• Squat as low as you can and keep the weight evenly distributed between the balls and heels of your feet as you push back to standing position.

• As you stand, press the weights straight up and overhead without locking the elbows.

• Repeat for 30-60 seconds.

Turning kettlebell lunges- You may not recognize this move, but it’s an excellent one for working the entire body and it’s a great way to incorporate a kettlebell into your training. The lunge works the lower body, of course, but having to circle the kettlebell overhead involves your upper body and quite a bit of core work.

If you’re new to this exercise, start with no weight or very light weight. You can always substitute a dumbbell if you don’t have a kettlebell.

• Begin with feet wider than the hips and hold a kettlebell or weight in the right hand.

• Pivot and turn the body to the right so that you’re in a split stance and lower into a lunge so that knees are at about a 90-degree angle.

• As you push back up, swing the weight up and over the head as you pivot back to the front.

• Switch the kettlebell to the left hand as you pivot to the left, lowering into a lunge and taking the weight towards the floor.

• Continue alternating sides while swinging the weight up and over for 30-60 seconds.

Push-up to side plank or T-twister- This is another favorite because it works the upper body as well as the core muscles, with an emphasis on the obliques.

The rotation is what adds more challenge to the exercise. You can keep the feet stacked, which is harder, or stagger the feet on the floor when you move into your side plank.

• In a pushup position, on the toes or the knees, bend the elbows into a pushup.

• As you push up, rotate to the right, taking the right arm straight up in a side plank.

• Lower the arm and repeat on the other side for 30-60 seconds.

These are just three of the numerous exercises that utilize all of the elements to creating a functional, effective and efficient workout.

You can take these exercises and add them to your usual workouts or, if you really want a challenge, put them all together in a killer circuit workout.

These are advanced moves, so watch yourself and be sure to see your doctor if you have any conditions, injuries, etc.

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