Best Exercises for 20-Minute Body Workout

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Bent-Over Row: For Back and Biceps: The bent-over row works all the major muscles of the upper back as well as the biceps. Begin the exercise in a bent-over position with your back flat, one knee and one hand on the same side of the body braced on a bench. Hold a free weight in the other hand with arm extended. Lift the weight toward the hip until the upper arm is just beyond horizontal, see right. Then slowly lower weight to the starting position. Do 10 times.

Shoulder Press: For Shoulders

A shoulder press works the shoulder muscles and can be performed standing or seated. For extra back support, use a bench with a backrest. Begin with elbows bent and weights at shoulders. Slowly reach toward the ceiling, keeping the elbows under the hands and the shoulders away from the ears; slowly lower back to the starting position. Do 10 times.


Cable Pull-Down: For Upper Back

For the last upper body exercise, do the cable pull-down, which works the upper back. Using a cable machine, sitting straight with a neutral spine, grasp the bar with arms extended. Slowly pull the bar down past the face and toward the chest. Only go as far as you can without leaning back, and control the weight on the way back up. Do 10 times.

Bicycle Crunch: For Core & Abdominals

Lying on your back on the floor, fold knees toward the chest and curl the upper body off the floor. With hands behind the head, slowly rotate the upper body to the right while drawing the right knee in and reaching the left leg out. Then rotate left and pull the left knee in and extend right leg out. Focus on bringing the shoulder toward the hip (rather than the elbow to the knee), and keep the opposite shoulder off the floor. Do 10 times.


Side Plank: For Core or Abdominals

For another abdominal alternative, lie on your side with a bent elbow directly under your shoulder, and use your torso muscles to lift the body up into a side plank. Then lift the hips higher, then back to the plank, then lower. Do as many as you can with proper form, then repeat on the other side. If this exercise hurts your shoulder or neck, lift only your legs, keeping the hips stacked. Your head will rest on your bent arm. 

Go For 20 Minutes

Before moving on to the cardio portion of the workout, be sure you’ve completed 20 minutes of resistance training. If you have, now’s a good time for a water break to keep your body well-hydrated. If you haven’t, go back and start the circuit over again until you reach the 20-minute goal.

Cardiovascular Training

Vary the intensity during your cardio workout. Use intervals, taking about a minute to get from moderate speed to intense. Whether you’re on the stair-stepper, the elliptical trainer, or the treadmill, do:

30 seconds of the highest speed you can tolerate, then 30 seconds of normal speed.

Then 30 seconds of the stiffest resistance you can handle, then 30 seconds of normal.

Keep moving back and forth between speed and resistance until you’ve completed 10 minutes.

How Often? Do this 20-minute workout routine every other day, or do it two days in a row if that’s better for your schedule. These are not hard-core exercises where you need more rest to recover 🙂 🙂

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