Mighty Mini Workout #2

Copyright 2006 by Leonore H. Dvorkin

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

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

This article is the second 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 weight exercises, you'll need a light pair of ankle weights (1-3 lbs. each) and a few pairs of dumbbells, the handheld weights shown in this picture:

Women should start with 3 pairs of dumbbells (DBs) weighing 2, 4, and 6 lbs. per dumbbell, or maybe 3, 5, and 7-8 lbs. each. Men can start with 3 pairs of DBs that weigh 5, 8, and 10-12 lbs. each. Use a bit more weight if you're strong, a bit less if you're not so fit. For new or used weight equipment, visit Play It Again Sports here in Denver. As you gain strength, you can sell back your used weights and get heavier ones.

Caution: For any exercise, make sure you can do at least 10-12 repetitions with good form with the weight you choose. If not, the weight is too heavy for you. If 15 or more reps feel very easy, then the weight is too light. Aim for 2 sets of 12-15 reps per set (a set = repetitions done without pausing), at the end of which you should feel a good muscular effort but not a strain. You might prefer a single set of 20-25 reps. Both methods provide good training.

Now put on some loose, comfortable clothing and a pair of athletic shoes, and we'll get going!

1) Warming Up
Stretching is not necessary. Just work to get the blood moving. 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: 10-20 times, bend the knees slightly and then straighten the legs. 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 floor, knees relaxed, not locked. Stretch high to finish.

2) Palms-In Curls, for biceps and front shoulders
Use heaviest DBs. Stand erect, knees relaxed (not locked), arms down by sides, palms toward outer thighs. Smoothly bend arms so DBs come close to front shoulders. Then lower smoothly to straighten. Breathe in to lift, out to lower. Don't jerk the weights. Repeat for 2 sets of 12-15 reps each or 1 long set of 20-25 reps.

3) Alternating Overhead Press with Palms Facing, for shoulders and backs of upper arms (triceps)
Use light or medium-weight DBs. Sit erect on firm chair or weight bench, feet on floor. Hold DBs up by shoulders, palms facing, elbows down. Lift one arm high, then begin a smooth "press, press, press" motion, alternating arms. Each "press" is a high lift, straight up. Upper arm comes up even with the ear. Stretch through ribcage. Breathe in for one lift, out for the next. Do 20-30 lifts total. Repeat if desired.

4) Alternating Hand-to-Ankle Sit-Ups, for the abdominals
Lie on back on carpet or exercise mat, legs apart. Do sit-ups as able, each time reaching for an ankle with the opposite hand: left hand to right ankle, etc. Alternate hands. Knees will bend slightly. Torso goes down between lifts. Breathe out for lift, in for lowering. Stretch out long on floor to finish.

5) Knee-to-Nose Kicks, for back thighs, buttocks, lower back
Wearing ankle weights, get on hands and knees on carpet or exercise mat. Bring right knee and face toward each other, then push right leg smoothly back and up, knee slightly bent. Repeat "forward, back" motion 12-15 times, then change legs. Keep it smooth, not jerky or forced. At end, sit with legs in a wide V and gently stretch the lower back and back thighs by stretching out over the thighs.

6) Front Lunges, for thigh strength, coordination
Do with or without DBs, arms down by sides. Use handhold for balance if necessary. - On non-slip surface, stand with left foot forward, right foot far back with toes pointing out (right). Torso faces front. Smoothly bend left leg, then straighten. Repeat "lunge, straighten" 12-15 times, then change legs. For extra effort, hold briefly at bottom of lunge.

7) Calf Raises on Stair Edge, for calf strengthening and stretching
Face staircase. Place balls of feet on edge of one step, heels off the step. Use handhold for balance. With knees straight, rise up on toes. Then lower heels past stair edge, letting calf muscles stretch. Go up and down until calves burn, 10-12 reps minimum. Then hold in the bottom position for a last calf stretch.

8) Final Stretches
Do any stretches you like for 3-5 minutes. This is for relaxation and to help prevent muscular soreness. Note: You can stretch every day, but working out with weights 2-3 times per week is plenty.