Is your schedule too packed to hit the gym? You don't have to do hours of cardio to slim down. Instead, try fitting in fitness throughout the day with these simple moves. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
Efficient, effective workoutCrank up the pace
Incorporating intervals versus exercising steadily at the same pace not only burns more calories. It also does a better job of amping your metabolism for the 24-hour period after a workout. Whether you're swimming laps, running, riding a stationary bike, or using the treadmill, you can increase the calorie burn by picking up the pace to the point where you are so out of breath that you can't even talk for 30 seconds, then slow down for one-and-a-half minutes to recover. Start with a five-minute warm up, repeat your 30-second intervals eight times, and then recover for 10 minutes.
Try commercial cardio
"Doing some kind of cardio, such as jumping rope or jogging in place, burns about 10 calories a minute," says Marjorie Nolan, RD, CND, CPT and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "If you watch an hour of TV a night and add cardio moves during the 10 commercial breaks that typically air, you could blast up to 300 extra calories without missing your favorite shows."
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"Even if you're really pressed for time, you can usually find 15 minutes in your day to exercise," says Nolan. For the days when you don't have time to spare, try doing three five-minute circuits using free weights. "The key is to get your heart rate up while using as many muscle groups as possible." Do three sets of this circuit:
90 Seconds: Squat with a bicep curl, and stand to go straight into an overhead shoulder press. Repeat.
90 Seconds: Lunge forward with right leg while raising weights out to side to shoulder level, hold for one second, bring leg back and arms down to return to starting position. Alternate legs and repeat.
120 Seconds: Do a row while standing on right leg to engage your core muscles, repeat for one minute then switch to left leg.
Try a fitness DVD
Fitness DVDs eliminate the excuse factor because they're convenient, cheaper than a gym membership, and can fit into even the busiest of schedules by eliminating travel time to the gym. A good one for all fitness levels is the Weight Watchers: PointsPlus Fitness Series. The series has five DVDs that each work a different part of your body, from core cardio to lower body intervals. Each DVD features a 10-minute beginner workout, 15-minute express workout, and a full-length, approximately 30-minute workout with move options for all fitness levels. ($39.95, available to both members and non-members at any Weight Watchers locations).
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Know your heart rate
You may be moving, but are you getting the most bang for your buck? Take the guesswork out of working out with a heart rate monitor that tells you if you're exercising at your target heart rate, or if you need to increase or decrease your intensity. "It makes your time at the gym much more efficient," says Jennifer Cohen, CPT, trainer on the former CW reality series Shedding for the Wedding and author of No Gym Required. "It also counts your calories more accurately than machines, and the Polar heart rate monitors are super easy to use. I end up wearing mine all day." (Polar heart rate monitors start around $59; amazon.com).
The leapfrog plank
Even if you can't make time for a full-on workout, you can still keep your fitness level up by incorporating mini, one-minute moves throughout the day. Cohen recommends the leap-frog plank, a total-body move that works your arms, shoulders, abs and legs.
Try it: Get on the ground in a push-up position, keeping your core tight and your spine straight. Leapfrog your legs forward, so your knees tuck in under your arms. Then return to plank position, holding for five seconds while keeping your core tight. Repeat for one minute.
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The T push up
Cohen says this quick move is ideal for working triceps, chest, and core. Try doing five to 10 of these one-minute sets throughout the day for total-body toning.
Try it: In pushup position (on knees or toes), do one pushup. As you come up, shift weight to left arm, twist to the side while bringing the right arm up towards the ceiling in a side plank. Lower the arm back to the floor for another pushup and then twist to the other side. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.
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