Fitness in No Time
By Melissa F. Pheterson; Photography by John Rizzo
Want to fast-forward through your fitness routine? We asked four local personal trainers for three moves that deliver results in just 20 minutes. Here’s how to tone, stretch, and strengthen in the space of a sitcom—without commercials!
Owner, the Personal Training Center for Women in Scarsdale
❝In three basic moves, you’ll work all major muscle groups, plus the core—maximizing toning plus metabolic fat-burning.❞
1. Walking lunge
This lunge utilizes all major lower-body muscles and gives significant stabilization through the core for serious fat-burning and aerobic benefits.
Take a full stride forward with right leg, ensuring knee doesn’t extend past toe. Left leg should almost scrape floor. Switch legs and repeat. Lunge across floor for 20 reps. For a challenge, hold dumbbells.
|2. One-arm dumbbell row|
This move works the upper body’s “pull” muscles, including back and biceps.
Place one hand on a chair, bending forward so torso is parallel to the ground. With a dumbbell in right hand, arm perpendicular to ground, pull weight toward hip, keeping elbow close to body. Return to start. Complete one set of 8 to 10 reps, increasing sets to two or three as you develop proficiency in the movement.
|3. Dumbbell chest press|
A complement to the row, this move employs the “push” muscles in the shoulders, chest, and triceps.
Lie on floor with weights in each hand. Extend arms above chest, then lower until they just tap floor. Lift again, pressing weights up and in to form a “V.” Gently tap weights together. Return to floor. Complete one set, increasing to two or three as you develop proficiency. Or, as an alternate, lie back on a Swiss ball (or stability ball) with upper back stabilized against ball. Gently lower until upper arms are parallel with torso. This version of the exercise, says Schoenfeld, offers more core stability and a greater range of motion.
Instructor at Debbie Frank
Exercise Studio in Larchmont
❝These moves promote the stability that creates core strength. They also let you slow down to achieve a mind-body connection.❞
|1. Forearm plank|
This exercise strengthens the upper body, and offers bonus core toning.
With forearms pressed into the floor and fingers spread, align ears, shoulders, hips, and knees into a sideways plank. Beginners can rest on their thighs. Make an effort to keep your pelvis tucked, which protects the back from arching. Focus on your breath, exhaling to engage your abdomen. Hold for as long as possible, building up to two minutes. Afterwards, sink back into your heels, with knees bent and feet close together, arms extended, to enjoy a deep stretch.
A classic “hold-the-position” exercise, the hinge sculpts and strengthens the thigh muscles.
Kneel on mat or carpet with knees wider than hips and feet close together, pressing shins against floor. Tuck in pelvis; engage abdomen to avoid arching back. Arrange upper body in plank position. Press hips forward and straighten arms, hinging back and forth from knees. Hold a one-to-two-inch hinge for two to three minutes to engage, sculpt, and stretch thigh muscles.
This bracing motion improves balance and strength, reducing lower back tension.
Sitting on floor, lean back onto forearms with feet hip-width apart and parallel, elbows slightly in back of shoulders with palms facing upward. Keep lower back pressed against floor. Tuck pelvis under pulled-in abdominals. Detach elbows from floor and reach toward outer thighs; grip beneath crease of knee to form a “c-curve.” Hold elbows high and wide, with shoulders drawn back. Keep chin lifted. Release hands from legs and hold for 30 seconds. Roll up to a seated position, placing hands on outer thighs. Roll back one vertebra at a time until back rests fully on ground. Hug knees into chest and gently rock side to side for a lower-back massage. Return to starting position on forearms and repeat for three minutes.
Trainer with Ultimate Health Pro (throughout Westchester; 845-825-3285)
❝These moves knock out several muscle groups at once. Perform ten to twenty reps of each with a minute’s rest, for three to six cycles.❞
|1. Squat-thrust with push-up|
This move hits everything—legs, arms, glutes, triceps, shoulders and core—for maximum efficiency. Crouch down to squat position, placing hands on floor. Kick out legs into push-up position; do one push-up. Pull legs back underneath body in one motion; feet should almost touch hands. Stand up and complete squat, lowering all the way down before coming back up.
|2. Full medicine-ball lift |
To work the back (lats) and ab muscles, this move enlists a weighted medicine ball. Crouch into a half-squat position, with elbows inside knees, arms straight. Swing a medicine ball (start with an eight-pound ball for women; 12-pound for men) between legs, rounding back. Lift ball straight up while bending elbows in a bicep curl motion, over and behind head as far as you can reach, arching back slightly. Return ball to starting position as swiftly as possible; the acceleration works abs and lats.
|3. Modified pull-up|
This move strengthens your biceps and back to tone your upper half.
At the gym, hop on the Gravitron machine, selecting the amount of assistance you need.
At home, hook a towel to a rail or doorknob, gripping both ends; then sit facing door and pull towel taut, keeping arms close to sides. Lean backward for more resistance to intensify the move, which works all the back muscles.
Hartsdale-based trainer with Jiva Wellness, an on-site wellness company that provides personal training to clients at their own locations (845-544-2472).
❝In twenty minutes, my goal is interval training—getting your heart rate up and down by exerting energy at various levels. Jump rope for one minute, followed by fifteen
push-ups and fifteen squats. Repeat the cycle. While one muscle group works, the others take a rest. This maximizes your workout without overworking your muscles.❞
|1. aerobic warm-up|
This high-intensity warm-up works the calves as it boosts your heart rate.
If it’s too demanding on joints, try jumping jacks or the stationary bike, also for one minute at a time.
|2. traditional Push-ups|
Infamous but effective, this move builds strength in your upper body and core.
Start with a modified push-up on knees; as you progress, elevate legs on a stability ball. Then try the standard military push-up (with legs extended). For an advanced move, bring hands together, fingertips forming a triangle–or try a straight-leg push-up with hands on a medicine ball. Twelve to 15 reps build upper-body strength and help with core muscles.
Sinking into a wide-leg squat fires up your glutes and quads.
Beginners can use a stability ball to cushion the back, relieve joint pressure, and ensure knees don’t extend past toes. After progressing to an unassisted squat, integrate upper body by holding weights or adding bicep curls. Perform 12 to 15 reps.