Mighty Mini Workout #4

Copyright 2007 by Leonore H. Dvorkin

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

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

This article is the fourth 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.

Exercise tips: For each exercise, make sure you can do at least 10-12 repetitions (reps) with smooth technique. If not, the weight is too heavy. Or do one long set of 20-25 reps. Both methods provide good training. With each exercise, you should feel a muscular effort, but not a strain. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and a pair of athletic shoes.

1) Warming Up
Stretching is not necessary. Just work to get the blood moving. Do 3-4 of these: March in place for 1 minute. Stand with feet apart, toes turned out, and do shallow squats: 10-20 times, bend knees slightly and then straighten legs. Swing 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 floor, knees not locked. Stretch high to finish.

2) Turning Curls, for upper arms and front shoulders
Use medium to heavy DBs (see guidelines above). Stand erect. Start with arms down, palms toward sides of thighs. Lift DBs smoothly, turning hands as you go, so that palms end facing front shoulders. Reverse the turn as you lower the weights. Do 2 sets of 12-15 reps, or 1 long set of 20-30 reps. With no weights, push arms back behind the body to stretch them.

3) Modified Push-Up with Lower Back Stretch Strengthens upper-body muscles, benefits the lower back.
Lie face down on exercise mat or carpet. Put palms on floor beside torso. Keep legs and pelvic area on the floor as you gently push the torso up, bending at the waist. Don't strain the lower back. Hold briefly in top position, looking up, then lower torso. Repeat for 10-12 lift/hold motions. Rest, repeat if desired.

4) Twisting Sit-Ups, for front and side abdominal muscles
Lie on back, knees bent. Have bent arms beside body, elbows on floor. For each sit-up, raise torso just a few inches off the floor, twisting slightly to one side. Use elbows for support if needed. Lift to the right, then lower. Lift to the left, then lower. Repeat for 10-16 sit-ups. Breathe out for lift, in for lowering. To finish, stretch out long on floor.

5) Knee-to-Nose Kick with Hold, for lower back, buttocks, back thighs
Wearing ankle weights, get on hands and knees on carpet or exercise mat. Smoothly bring right knee toward face, head down; then smoothly push leg back and up, head up. Knee bends only slightly on the back lift. Arms stay nearly straight. Hold leg back and up for 2 seconds, then bring knee toward face again. Repeat "knee forward, leg back, hold" sequence 10-15 times right leg, then 10-15 times left leg. Rest, repeat if desired.

6) Pli�, for front and inner thighs
Pli�, pronounced plee-ay, means "folded" in French. This is a ballet exercise, good for the legs, easy on the knees. - Hold a heavy DB by one end with both hands, so it hangs down vertically in front of body. Stand erect, feet a moderate distance apart, feet and knees turned out to the sides. Keeping head up, not allowing buttocks to stick out in back, bend knees rather slowly, concentrating on thighs. Straighten legs, then repeat the smooth "bend, straighten" motion for 15-20 total. Rest, repeat if desired.

7) Ankle Rotations, for ankles, lower legs
Lie on back on carpet or mat. Have arms down by sides. Bend left leg, raise right leg. Slowly but with effort, rotate foot. Toes trace a circle in the air. Relax foot, working ankle and calf muscles. Circle 10-12 times clockwise, 10-12 times counter-clockwise. Repeat with left foot.
Stretch calves afterwards: Stand, resting hands on chair seat or table. Put one foot well back, then push heel down to stretch calf, holding for 15-20 seconds. Do other leg, then repeat as desired.

8) "Look Back" Stretch, for hips, back, waistline
Sit on carpet or mat. Have left leg straight and out to side, right leg bent in front of body. Hold right knee with left hand. Put right hand on floor, right arm straight. Keeping torso erect, twist body to right to look behind you. Hold. Reverse to stretch left. Repeat as desired.