Lunden Souza: Save time with an intense at-home workout

lifelikelunden@gmail.com April 26, 2014 

Life can be a rush, with little time to smell the roses, let alone fit in a workout. News flash: Spring has sprung and summertime will be here before we know it.

I know the struggle it can be to find time to train when you have a busy and ever-changing schedule, and I have spent a lot of time working out at home. I get it – it takes time to wake up, get dressed, pack your things and drive to the gym – and every minute really does count.

So this week I have a workout that you can do at home, with no equipment, that targets your core and upper body with a hint of cardio. You don’t need hours at the gym to get the job done. You just need to focus and give it all you have got, even if it’s just 30 minutes or less.

Complete 20 repetitions of each exercise:

1. Jumping jacks: We all know this exercise, but make sure your hands come all the way up over your head. If you need to clap at the top to make it happen, go for it.

2. Push-ups: Knees are also fine.

3. Side plank oblique crunches (left side): Get into an elbow side plank position, with your left elbow placed directly underneath your left shoulder. Make sure your hips are pushed forward enough to keep your body as flat as a board. Lower down your left hip, until it almost reaches the floor, and then squeeze your core to pull it all the way back up to start. A modified side plank is also an option. You place your left knee on the ground and kick your left foot behind you so that leg is at a 90-degree angle. Perform the crunch the same way.

4. Side plank oblique crunches (right side): Same as left but on the opposite side.

5. Superman: Lay on your stomach with your legs together and your arms stretched out over head in line with your shoulders. At the same time, lift up your legs and arms to really isolate the low back. Make sure your head is neutral, you’re elongating through the crown of your head and you only go as far as your body permits and feels comfortable. Return to the starting position for one repetition.

6. Mountain climbers: Assume a plank position, as if you are getting ready to do a regular push-up. Alternate bringing one knee at a time toward the center of your elbows as quickly and controlled as possible. This is your cardio burst, so go hard.

7. Kick and dip: Get into a “crab” position with your hands and feet flat on the floor and your head and torso facing toward the ceiling. Make sure your fingertips are facing your feet, your feet are a hip’s distance apart and your toes are facing forward. Kick one foot up into the air and perform a triceps dip. Switch legs and repeat. You can count each leg as one repetition, for 10 on each side.

8. Punches: This is your chance to let your inner Rocky out. Pick a point in front of you, about shoulder height and aim for it each time. Make sure your arms are relaxed when you punch, and always keep a bend in that elbow. One repetition is a punch on the right and on the left. Keep your core tight and knees bent.

9. Alternating kicks: Stand with your feet a hip’s width apart and knees bent. Keep your fists lightly clenched and in front of your nose and chin to protect your face. As you kick, keep your elbows in close toward your torso, contract your abs and pull your elbows down toward your hips with each kick to get a little abdominal action as well. Ten on each side will do it.

10. V-ups: Lay on your back with your legs straight and together and your hands over your head, palms facing up. Engage your core, lift up your legs, while also lifting up your arms until your body comes up to the shape of a “V.” These are difficult, so if you want to start with single leg alternating V-ups that is also an option. In this case, make your abs burn with 20 repetitions on each side.

11. Up-downs: Get into an elbow plank, or modified elbow plank position. Push yourself up to a plank on your hands starting with the left hand, and then come back down starting with the left elbow. You can then switch to the right side and alternate until you get to 20 repetitions, 10 on each side. Make sure that you plant your hand directly underneath your shoulder when pushing yourself up to that hand plank.

12. Pike push-ups: Get into a downward facing dog position. Bend your elbows and try to get the crown of your head as close to the ground as you can and then push yourself back up.

Once you have finished 20 repetitions of all 12 exercises, rest and pat yourself on the back. Beginners can aim for one to two rounds of these exercises and advanced should aim for three to five rounds. I really love this workout, because it burns fat and tones muscle all at the same time.

Remember, there is always a way to make time if you really want it. Intensity trumps duration of a workout any day, so get intense and get fit.

Lunden Souza, a Merced native, is a personal trainer, health and wellness coach and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at lifelikelunden@gmail.com.

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