How to Create Your Perfect Workout Routine
When you’re a busy parent, you squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Whether you’ve got 10 minutes while your partner chases the kids around the park or a free half hour before dinner, you’ve got to make the most of it. But coming up with a fun workout for that odd window of time can be tough.
To the rescue: Our customized plan helps you maximize your results. You don’t have to learn any super-complicated moves; instead, focus on perfecting the form of some you’ve likely already tried. There are also three levels for each move; choose the one that best suits your fitness level, says Fitz Koehler, a fitness expert and founder of Fitzness.com. Do a set of each move, and repeat the circuit for the amount of time that you have.
THE MOVE: JUMPING JACKS.
How to do it: Stand with your feet together, arms by your sides. As you raise your arms above your head, jump your legs to shoulder-width apart. Bring your arms down as you jump your feet back together. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Make it easier: When you jump, keep your legs shoulder-width apart and leave your hands on your hips.
Make it harder: Push off the ground when you jump, so your feet go higher. “Think cheerleader,” Koehler says.
THE MOVE: SQUATS.
How to do it: Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, with your arms in front of you. Bend your knees, sending your butt backward like you’re sitting down in a chair. Lower down as far as you feel comfortable, keeping your knees behind your toes. Keep your back straight and shoulders back. Push back up into a standing position. Repeat 10 times.
Make it easier: Hold on to a stable surface, such as a table, as you squat. Only squat as far as you feel comfortable.
Make it harder: Squat low to the ground. As you push up, jump up high. Another option: Do the squat standing on just one leg, holding the other leg out in front of you. Alternate sides.
THE MOVE: LUNGES.
How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both of your knees are bent to about 90 degrees. Check that your front knee is in line with your ankle. Press back up to the starting position. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
Make it easier: Only lunge as far as you feel comfortable.
Make it harder: Alternate sides as you lunge, walking up a hill. Or do plyometric lunges: Lunge on one leg. Then jump as you stand up. Switch sides mid-air, and land on a lunge on the other leg.
THE MOVE: PLANKS.
How to do it: Start on all fours, with your wrists beneath your shoulders. Extend one leg backward, with your foot flexed. Bring the other leg next to it. Engage your core; your weight should be resting on your hands and feet. Keep your back straight. Keep your head in line with your back, looking at a spot about a foot ahead of your hands. Hold for 30 seconds.
Make it easier: Place your hands or forearms on a stable elevated surface, such as a park bench.
Make it harder: While holding the plank, lift one arm or leg off the ground; switch sides.
THE MOVE: PUSH-UPS.
How to do it: Start in plank position. Bend your elbows as you slowly lower your body so your chest touches the floor. Engage your core so your body stays in a straight line, from your head to heels. Push back up to start. Repeat 10 times.
Make it easier: Do them on your knees, keeping your back flat. You can also do them standing, pressing against a wall, or on a raised surface, such as a bench.
Make it harder: Instead of letting your elbows go out to the sides, tuck them in so your forearms graze your body as you push down and up. Need more of a challenge? Try lifting one foot as you push up and down; switch sides. Then place one arm behind your back as you push up and down; switch sides.
THE MOVE: CRUNCHES.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head, elbows out to the sides. Exhale as you engage your core, curling forward as you lift your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the ground. Inhale as you slowly lower back to the starting position.
Make it easier: Lean back on a BOSU ball, keeping your butt on the ground. “This allows you to crunch without having to lift up completely,” Koehler says.
Make it harder: Extend your arms overhead as you crunch up and down. Or straighten your legs. Lift your legs as you crunch up, and lower them as you roll back down.
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