Mighty Mini Workout #1

Copyright 2006 by Leonore H. Dvorkin

To go to the Exercise Instruction main page, click here.

Note: This article was originally published in the November 2006 issue of the Denver publication Community News.

This article is the first in a series of short but total-body workouts that you can do with simple equipment and in only about 20-25 minutes. These are shortened versions of the 1-hr. workouts we do in the classes I teach in my home. Click here for details on the classes.

For the exercises with weights, you�ll need only light ankle weights (1 to 3 lbs. each), and a few pairs of dumbbells (handheld weights). Women should start with 3 pairs of dumbbells that weigh 2, 4, and 6 lbs. each, or maybe 3, 5, and 8 lbs. each. That weight is per dumbbell, not per pair. Men can usually start with 3 pairs of dumbbells that weigh 5, 8, and 10 or 12 lbs. each.

Check out Play It Again Sports for good used or new weight equipment. When you progress past your starting weights, just sell those back to them and buy heavier ones.

So, put on some athletic shoes and some loose, comfy clothes, and get ready to get fitter! Do these workouts with a friend or your significant other for extra motivation and fun.

1) Warming Up
Just work to get the blood moving. Stretching is not necessary. Pick 3 or 4 of these suggestions: March in place for about a minute. Walk up and down a few flights of stairs. Stand with feet apart, toes turned out, and do shallow partial squats, bending the knees slightly and then straightening, 10-20 times. Swing your arms vigorously, up and down, around and around. Stand with legs apart, hands on hips, and lean from side to side several times. Then bob over gently, hands toward the floor. Now you�re ready to go.

2) Standard Curls
These work the biceps and front shoulders.
Use your heaviest dumbbells (DBs). Stand erect, knees relaxed (not locked), arms down by sides, palms turned outward, facing front. Smoothly and slowly bend the arms, so palms face shoulders. Lower slowly. Repeat for 20-25 repetitions, or do 2 sets of 12-15 reps each. Breathe in to lift, out to lower. Don�t jerk or drop the weights. At the end, you should feel a good muscular effort, but not a strain.

3) Dumbbell Kickbacks
These work the backs of the upper arms (the triceps), the back shoulders, and the mid back area.
Use light or medium-weight DBs. Hold weights with palms facing. Stand, then bend over with back flat, head up, knees slightly bent. Don�t round the back. Keep palms facing. Bend arms to swing weights forward, then push back and up to straighten arms behind body. Hold 2 counts in the back position. The count is �Forward, push back, hold. Forward, push back, hold.� Do 15-20 total, or 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions (reps).

4) Bicycling for the Abdominals
The best ab exercise!
Lie on your back on a carpet or exercise mat, hands under neck. Lift legs, then move them back and forth, around and around, in an exaggerated bicycling motion. Push out and pull back as much as possible. Go until tired. Stop and stretch out flat on the floor. Repeat bicycling motion, then stretch again.

5) Back Leg Lifts
For back thighs, lower back, and buttocks.
Wear light ankle weights, or heavy shoes if you have no weights. Get on hands and knees on a carpet or exercise mat. (Knee trouble? Lean over and brace your hands on the seat of a secured chair, legs back somewhat from the chair.) Extend right leg behind body. Smoothly lift right leg high, keeping it almost straight. Then lower, touching toe to floor. Repeat smooth lifts and lowerings for 12-15 per leg. Repeat if desired.

6) V-Sit Stretch
For back thighs and lower back. Nice after #5.
Sit on carpet or exercise mat, legs wide apart and flat to floor. Relax feet, toes toward ceiling. Lengthen torso out along right leg, aiming face toward foot, hands on lower leg. Don�t round the back much. Stretch 6-8 counts right, then 6- 8 counts front (to the center), then 6-8 counts left. Swing arms up and over, pulling high and then over to the right, and start back on the right again. Do "right, center, left" pattern 2-3 times.

7) Partial Squats
For thighs and knees.
Stand erect, feet about 1 ft. apart, toes turned slightly out to the sides. Hold medium or heavy DBs down by the sides, arms relaxed. Keeping head up, bend knees slightly, then straighten legs. Do not go down to where thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep these slow and smooth. Do 20-30 total.

8) Straight-Leg Toe Raises
For the calves.
Face any kind of handhold for balance. Keep legs straight. Go up and down on your toes 10-15 times, until the calves burn.

9) Straight-Leg Calf Stretch
Good after #8.
Place hands on seat of chair or exercise bench. Extend right leg far behind you. Bend left leg slightly. Toes of both feet face front. Push heel of right foot down toward floor to stretch calf muscle. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Repeat on left leg.

10) Stretches of Your Choice
Do any other desired stretches to conclude and relax. Then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.