You Do Have Time to Work Out! Get Motivated

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You can fit in fitness. We worked with trainer Annette Lang to bring you the very best 5-, 15-, 30-, and 45-minute toning routines for your crazy busy schedule.

5-Minute Routine

If you have 5 minutes…

YOU CAN: Get your heart rate soaring, jolt your energy level, tone all of your muscles, and help your bones. The key? Plyometrics, or jumping exercises, which are best when done in small doses, so they’re perfect for a micro-mini workout.


ROUTINE: Do all moves, then repeat sequence 1 time, resting as needed between exercises to catch your breath.

  1. Jump squat
    Stand with feet slightly more than hip-width apart and squat down, keeping knees in line with ankles. Immediately jump back up, using your arms for momentum, and land quietly in a squat. Do 7 reps.
  2. Jump lunge
    Stand with feet hip-width apart and lunge back with right foot. Bend both knees, keeping left knee over ankle. Exhale and jump up, switching legs midair so right leg is forward and left leg is back when you land. Do 10 reps, alternating legs with each jump.
  3. Plyometric push-up
    Start in push-up position (hands under shoulders, back straight, abs engaged, toes tucked under). Bend elbows, bringing chest toward floor, then push off floor powerfully enough to lift both hands a few inches. Land softly, bending elbows. (To modify, keep knees on floor.) Do 5 to 10 reps.
  4. Medicine-ball pretend throw
    Stand with feet slightly more than hip-width apart, holding a medicine ball (or a soccer ball or basketball) at chest level in front of you. Squat down, then stand up and rapidly bring ball overhead, as if throwing it behind you. Lower. Do 5 to 8 reps.

15-Minute Routine

If you have 15 minutes…

YOU CAN: Target your biggest trouble zone. Fifteen minutes is just enough time to effectively work either your upper or lower body, says Lang.


ROUTINE: Complete either all of the shoulders/arms exercises or all of the butt/legs exercises, using a pair of 5- to 10-pound dumbbells. Work both muscle groups twice a week.

Shoulders & Arms

(Perform as a circuit; do 4 sets, 12 to 15 reps each)

  1. Lateral raise
    Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at sides, with palms facing in. Lift arms out to shoulder height, keeping elbows soft, palms facing forward. Hold for 1 count and then lower. For last set in circuit, do 15 reps using only right arm, then switch sides and repeat.
  2. Biceps curl into shoulder press
    a. Hold dumbbells in front of thighs with palms facing forward. Bend elbows and curl weights toward shoulders.
    b. Once weights reach shoulder height, turn palms forward, bring elbows up to shoulder height, and lift weights together overhead. Lower to start and repeat. For final circuit, do 15 reps using only right arm, then switch sides and repeat.
  3. Triceps kickback
    Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding dumbbells with palms facing sides. Bend from waist until upper body is almost parallel to floor, keeping back straight. Bend elbows up to ribs, then slowly straighten arms behind you, keeping upper arms still. Bring weights toward chest and repeat. For final circuit, do 15 reps using only right arm, then switch sides and repeat.

Butt & Legs

  1. Single-leg squat
    Stand facing away from a chair, holding dumbbells at sides. Step forward about 2 feet. Place top of right foot on seat and slowly bend left knee into a squat, being sure not to let knee go past toes. Stand back up. Do 12 reps. Squat one more time with left leg and hold in down position for about 20 seconds. Switch legs; repeat.
  2. Wall sit with body weight
    Stand with your back and butt against a wall, feet hip-width apart and about 1 foot away from wall. Bend knees and slide body down wall until knees are almost at 90 degrees and in line with ankles. Hold for 30 seconds. Do 3 reps.
  3. Single-leg deadlift
    Stand with feet together, dumbbells at sides. Lift right foot off floor and lean forward from hips, keeping abs engaged and back straight, until weights are in line with left shin. Pull through glutes to lift body back up. Do 12 reps. Lean forward one more time and hold in down position for 20 seconds. Switch legs; repeat.

30-Minute Routine

If you have 30 minutes…

YOU CAN: Get an amazing total-body workout, says Lang. Each of the following moves targets multiple muscles (think arms, legs, butt, and core) at the same time. Moving from one exercise to the next without resting, and adding in quick cardio bursts, will help you tone up and burn more calories.


ROUTINE: Use dumbbells that will keep challenging your muscles for 15 to 20 reps (5 to 10 pounds). After each move, do 1 minute of cardio (jumping jacks, jump rope, fast walking, jogging, step-ups, etc.), working at an intensity level of about a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Do the circuit 3 times.

  1. Walking lunge with overhead press
    Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing forward, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Lunge forward with right leg, bending both knees, keeping right knee directly over right ankle. As you lift back up, slowly press dumbbells overhead until arms are straight. Then lunge forward with left foot and bring arms back down to shoulder height. Do 30 reps, alternating legs.
  2. Deadlift with row
    Stand with feet hip-width apart, dumbbells facing sides, knees slightly bent. Hinge forward from hips, pushing glutes behind you and keeping back straight, until dumbbells reach your shins. Hold here for a breath, then bend elbows toward ribs, keeping arms close to sides. Lower arms back to shins, then pull through glutes to lift back up. Do 20 reps.
  3. Lateral lunge with chop
    a. Hold a dumbbell with both hands at chest level and lunge to your right, bending right knee 90 degrees as you push hips back; keep left leg straight. At the same time, bring weight down toward right foot.
    b. Return right foot to center and lift back up, bringing dumbbell diagonally across body toward left shoulder. Do 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
  4. Walking plank with push-ups
    Start in full push-up position (hands under shoulders, abs engaged, back straight, toes tucked under). Walk hands and feet 6 steps to left. Drop knees to floor and do 5 push-ups. Repeat to right. Do series 3 times on each side.
  5. Side bridge
    Lie in a straight line on your right side, legs and hips stacked, elbow under shoulder, abs engaged. Lift hips to form a straight line with upper body; lower. Repeat 10 times. For last rep, hold hips up for 10 seconds, then lower.

45-Minute Routine

If you have 45 minutes…

YOU CAN: Blast more than 400 calories while sculpting every muscle. Doing a steady-paced cardio session after each strength circuit will burn fat, improve your heart health and get you strong all over, says Lang.

ROUTINE: After completing 1 set of the strength moves in the 30-minute circuit (skip the cardio bursts), do 10 minutes of the aerobic activity of your choice (running, riding a stationary bike, using the elliptical or stairstepper machine, walking on an incline, etc.). Work at an intensity level of about a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 (you’re slightly breathless, but able to maintain your pace). Do this strength/cardio circuit 3 times through.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July 2007.

By Lindsey Emery

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