Skip the gym for exercises at home or work
By Amy Bertrand
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
By Amy Bertrand
Kathy Luther used to dread lifting weights at the gym.
"I'd make myself go," she says. "But it was boring as all get out, and I hated the waiting to get on the equipment."
Now Luther, 49, skips the gym. Does that mean she's gone all flabby?
"Oh no," she says. "I feel better than ever. I say I feel stretchy and smooth," she says. "And my balance is so much better."
Her secret: new exercises that combines upper- and lower-body strength-training moves for an efficient and thorough workout.
Earlier this year Luther came upon an exercise instructor, Andrew Francis, at a community center in Bridgeton, Mo. Since then, Luther has Francis visit her at work, where she and her co-workers enjoy the benefits of his combination moves.
"This is just so different from lifting weights at the gym. You get your heart rate up and you sweat, and it's very lively and the time goes by so quickly," she said. "You don't get that 'uhhh' of waiting between sets or of knowing there's something you don't like to do but have to do."
In addition to a quick strength-building workout, you are working so hard there's a cardio component and a balance component.
With the help of Francis, a trainer, yoga instructor and group fitness teacher, we've devised five great moves that work big muscle groups for maximum efficiency. Do as many as you can at first, working up to three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
1. SQUAT, CURL, SHOULDER PRESS, CALF RAISE
How to do it: Start with a dumbbell in each hand, hanging at your sides, palms up. Feet are slightly more than hip-width apart. Inhale and squat toward the floor until your knees are bent to approximately a 90-degree angle, making sure your knees do not go over your toes. On your way back up from the squat, exhale and curl your arms up so the weights reach your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your body. Inhale. Then turn the weights so your hands face forward and raise them over your head in a shoulder press. Next, with your arms raised, lift your heels off the floor for a calf raise.
Target muscles: Quadriceps, biceps, deltoids and calves
2. IRON CROSS
How to do it: Start in a squat position with dumbbells in your hands, arms out in front of you, parallel to the ground, palms turned in. When you raise up from the squat, exhale and fly your arms out to the sides, forming a T. Inhale and return to the starting position.
Target muscles: Pectorals, deltoids, quadriceps
3. LUNGE, FRONT RAISE, ABDOMINAL TWIST
How to do it: Lunge your right leg in front of your body so your legs form 90-degree angles, with your left knee almost touching the ground. Raise your arms in front of you, parallel to the ground, with your fists to the ground. Slowly exhale and twist your upper body to the right, keeping your arms in position. Return to starting position and do as many reps as possible. Switch to the other leg and repeat on opposite side.
Target muscles: Quadriceps, deltoids, abdominals
4. HAMMER SQUAT PULLOVER
How to do it: Stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Take one (heavier) dumbbell overhead with both hands. Bend your arms at the elbows, bringing the weight behind your head, to the back of your neck. Raise the weight back overhead, exhaling, then lower the dumbbell slowly to the floor while your lower body does a deep squat. Inhale. Exhale and raise back up to starting position.
Target muscles: Glutes, quadriceps, triceps
5. THE PLANK
How to do it: Lie face down with your palms and forearms on the floor. Raise your body off the floor, rising up on your toes and with your forearms supporting your upper body. Keep your back flat, with your body in a straight line from head to heels and your abs tight. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds.
Target muscles: Abdominals, lower back, shoulders