Challenging Workouts To Make You Strong (When You Make The Time!)

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eyes closed, breathing


Sometimes we get so busy and bogged down with everyday life that we are hard pressed to find even 5 minutes for ourselves. It’s on those days that we reap huge benefits when we stop, close our eyes, take a big breath in and let if fully out. Now take a few more just like that. Such a small practice can have a big effect on the rest of our day. Take a minute to be in touch with you.

When you’re taking a moment, remember this: Very few things are more important than your health. The meeting at work, the pile of emails and phone calls to return, the laundry…none of it matters if we aren’t well.

Physically strong and mentally calm is wellness at its peak. When we can’t work a class into our schedule we can design a simple workout to do anywhere, any time. If we can’t find 30 minutes surely we can find 15 minutes….twice a day, most days! And you know we don’t actually find time for exercise, we make it. Here are some ideas for a home, travel or vacation workout — or read below to see how to design your own workout.

All you need is a timer and the willingness to do the work!

Workout #1

Complete the following circuit. If you have 30 minutes to exercise, run through the circuit 3 times. If you’re pressed for time try 3 rounds at different times during the day.

Set your timer for 50 seconds exercise, 10 seconds rest. Perform each exercise for 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next.

  1. Jumping Jacks: elbows tucked in close to body, palms facing in
  2. Push Ups: nose to mat
  3. Squat Jumps: quads parallel to ground
  4. Mountain Climbers
  5. Standing Side Crunches: 50 seconds each side
  6. Diamond Push Ups
  7. Bicycle Crunches
  8. Skater Jumps
  9. Side Lunges: lifting knee as you come up, 50 seconds each side
  10. Push Ups: turning side to side with high plank

Workout #2

Complete reps with good form as fast as you can:

Side Push Ups: 20 each side
Plank Skiers: From high plank position jump both feet forward to left hand bending knees slightly, jump feet back to high plank, then up to outside of right hand and back to high plank. That’s 2 reps. Do 20 (alternate: step foot forward to same hand from high plank)
Russian Twists x 20, double count

Squat Thrusts: clap x 30 seconds
Hi Planks: bring knee under body to opposite wrist x 30, alternating
Reverse Lunges: kick through x 30 each side

Plank Jack Push Ups: x 20
Starburst Jumps: x 20 (alternate: Jumping Jacks)
Low Side Planks: lift & lower top leg or thread the needle x 20

Burpees: x 10
Wide Squat Jumping Jack Touches: x 20
Tricep Dips: x 30
Standing Side Kicks: x 40 each side

Repeat up to 3 rounds!

Design Your Own

You can design your own workout too. Pick at least 5 exercises: 1 upper body, 1 lower body, 1 abdominal, 1 cardio and 1 core exercise.

Here’s a list of some of my favorites. Some require weights, some just your body weight.

Reps: Set your timer for 30 or 50 seconds with a 10 second rest in between:

Upper Body
Push Ups
Tricep Push Ups
Push Ups, alternating knees under
Spiderman Push Ups
Renegade Rows: push up lifting weight as you come up, alternate sides
Bicep Curls: balancing on 1 leg, alternate sides
Front Raises: palms facing in
Bent-Over Rows: Keep spine straight
Arnold Presses or Arnold Presses with Squat Press

Lower Body
Body Weight Squats
Squat Jumps
Walking Lunges, with or without weights
Lunge Jumps
Good Mornings/Dead Lifts
Monkey Squats: Sit back into a low squat with feet wider than hip distance, holding ankles. Drive tail bone up to straighten legs and return to squat.
Squat Side Leg Lifts
Side Lunges

Double Crunches (legs up)
Scissor Kicks
Flutter Kicks
Reverse Curls
Knee Grabs (lower back off ground or stay down if you have back issues)
Side Crunches
In-Out-Up-Down (knees into chest, extend legs out, lift straight legs up/down)

High or Low Planks
High Planks, bring alternating knees to same elbow
Commando Planks (high to low plank)
Downward Dog to Push Up
High or Low Side Planks
High or Low Planks, tap opposite shoulder
Alternating Rows with weight from high plank

Eight-Count Body Builders
Plank Jacks
Squat Thrusts
Run Hi Knees
Mountain Climbers
Starburst Jumps
Knee Ups on elevated surface
Side Shuffles

Add Strength To Your Run or Power Walk

Another idea is to build strength training into your cardio workout. Whether you run three miles or 10, look for benches or steps along your route to beef up your workout. Stop along the way and perform tricep dips and/or push-ups off a bench. Advanced moves might include elevating your feet on the bench, place your hands right underneath your shoulders to form a plank. Then bring alternating knees to your chest. You can support yourself on the back of the bench and do standing side crunches. Do multiple sets or just one set of maximum (as many as you can using good form) and then repeat at your next bench.

tricep dips

If you design your own workout, please share it with us.

Have fun, work hard, get fit!

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