Mighty Mini Workout #3

Copyright 2007 by Leonore H. Dvorkin

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

Note: This article was originally published in the January 2007 issue of the Denver publication Community News.

This article is the third 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, use light 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 DBs (dumbbells) weighing 2, 4, and 6 lbs. per DB, 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. Sears has good equipment, and Play It Again Sports has new and used weights. As you gain strength, you can sell them back your old weights and get heavier ones.

Caution: For each exercise, make sure you can do at least 10-12 repetitions (reps) with good form with the weight you choose. If not, the weight is too heavy for you. If 15-20 reps feel easy, then the weight is too light. Aim for 2 sets of 12-15 reps per set. (A set = repetitions done without pausing.) After 2 sets, you should feel a good muscular effort but not a strain. You might prefer one long 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. Do 3 or 4 of the following: March in place for 1 minute. Stand with feet apart, toes turned out, and do shallow squats: 10-20 times, bend the knees slightly and then straighten the legs. Swing your arms vigorously forward and back, then up 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, knees not locked. Stretch high to finish.

2) Hammer Curls, for biceps and front shoulders
With heaviest DBs, stand erect, knees relaxed, one arm bent, the other down by the side, palms turned inward. Smoothly reverse arm position, then continue. As one hand goes up, the other goes down. Don't jerk or swing the weights. Each arm bend = 1 lift. Repeat for 2 sets of 24-30 lifts, or 1 set of 40-50 lifts.

3) Dumbbell Push-Back, for backs of upper arms and back shoulders
Use light to medium DBs. Stand erect. Hold DBs with palms inward. Bend arms to bring weights up by front shoulders, then push arms back to straighten them behind the body, then hold briefly. Count is "bend, push back, hold." Do 2 sets of 10-12 reps or 1 set of 18-25 reps. Variation: When pushing back, turn palms upward.

4) Windmill Pose, a simple yoga exercise for abdominals and lower back, plus stretching
Lie flat on back on carpet or mat. With right leg flat to floor and right arm stretched straight overhead on the floor, pull left knee toward chest with left hand. Hold briefly, then reverse. Inhale as you change position, exhale as you hold the knee bent. Do 10-12 changes.

5) Standing Leg Curl, for back thigh strength and buttocks
Wear ankle weights. Lean forward, hands on firm chair seat, table, or weight bench. Extend straight right leg behind body as far as possible, toe touching floor. Smoothly bend and straighten the leg, touching toe to floor each time. As leg bends, pull toes toward shin bone, then point toes as leg straightens. Do 15-20 curls (bends) per leg, or 4 sets of 10-12 curls, alternating legs per set. Afterwards, sit on floor, legs in a wide V, and stretch out gently over thighs to stretch back thighs.

6) Side Lunges, for thighs, balance, coordination
Wearing athletic shoes with good traction, stand with feet wide apart, toes turned out, unweighted arms out to sides or with medium or heavy DBs held down in front of body for extra effort. Keeping torso and head erect and centered, smoothly bend right leg to lunge right, then lunge left. Do 20-30 lunges total. Bend the knee just enough to work the front thigh. Don't bend so much that you lose balance or feel knee strain.

7) Leg Raise with Calf Stretch, for calves, legs, abdominals
Lie flat on back on carpet or mat, arms by sides. Put a rolled towel under your neck if desired. With left leg straight, inhale to lift right leg straight up, then flex right foot so toes pull toward shin bone. Stretch, don't strain. Exhale to lower the leg. Inhale and lift left leg, flex foot, exhale to lower. Repeat 8-10 times. If you feel any back strain, keep the non-lifting leg slightly bent, sole of foot on floor.

8) Final Stretches
End with any desired stretches for any or all body parts. This is for relaxation and to prevent muscular soreness. Try this one: Stand with feet wide apart. Bend left, left hand down along outside of left leg, right arm curved overhead (hand toward left), then turn head to look up at right arm. Hold, then reverse, bending right. Do 4-6 bends total.