Fitness Blitz: The 30-Minute Workout (cont.)

Upper-Body Horizontal Pushing Movement.

Push-ups are a great choice here, with many different variations depending on your strength. Ross recommends doing a push-up with an exercise ball under the hips, knees or feet as you lower and lift the body.

Kolber does a variation on a traditional push-up: From a face-down position on the floor, come to a plank position, supporting your weight on your toes and your extended arms. Lower your body down slowly, then bend your knees to the floor for a push-up.

A chest press is another example. Lying face-up on a bench with knees bent and spine in a neutral position, press a body bar or free weights from your chest up toward the ceiling. Fully extend arms without locking the elbows and move slowly in both directions, keeping shoulder blades on the bench. For an extra challenge, do the chest press with your head and upper back on an exercise ball.

  • Upper-Body Horizontal Pulling Movement.

    If you have access to cable machines, this the best way to do an upright row. If not, try this free-weight version: Sitting straight with a neutral spine, lift weights up to shoulder height with straight arms. Then slowly bend the elbows and pull back, drawing the shoulder blades together.

  • Upper-Body Vertical Pushing Movement.

    To do an overhead or shoulder press with free weights, 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.

  • Upper-Body Vertical Pulling Movement.

    This motion is best performed on a cable machine. Sitting straight with a neutral spine, 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.

  • Core or Abdominal Exercise.

    The choices here are almost endless. Ross suggests a slowed-down bicycle crunch: Lying on your back on the floor, fold knees in toward the chest and curl the upper body off the floor. With hands behind head, slowly rotate upper body to the right while drawing the right knee in and reaching the left leg out on an angle. Then rotate left and pull the left knee in. Focus on bringing the shoulder toward the hip (rather than the elbow to the knee), and try to keep the opposite shoulder off the floor.

    Another alternative Ross likes is a side plank on the elbow. Lying on your side with a bent elbow directly under your shoulder, 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.

  • Do 10 challenging repetitions of each exercise, moving from one to another as a circuit. After you've completed every exercise once, start the cycle again and continue until you reach 20 minutes.

    "Try to make the exercises as close together as possible as well," says Ross. You don't want to waste time walking back and forth across the gym to get to a specific machine.

    Once the 20 minutes are up, move right to 10 minutes of cardio.

    "Use intense intervals" during your cardio session, taking about a minute to get from moderate speed to intensity, Ross recommends.

    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 toggling back and forth between speed and resistance until you've completed 10 minutes.

    "Intensity doesn't have to be a scary word," says Ross. "It's not a Gatorade commercial. It just has to be a little bit more than your body's used to."

    And how often should you do the workout? While Kolber recommends doing this type of workout every other day, Ross notes that it's OK to do it two days in a row if that's what fits your schedule.

    "They are not like bodybuilding-style routines where the high degree of muscular overload requires full rest to recover," he says. "This is real-life fitness for the rest of us."

    Published December 22, 2006.

    SOURCES: Jonathan Ross, personal trainer; owner, Aion Fitness, Bowie, Md. Petra Kolber, spokeswoman, the IDEA Health and Fitness Association; contributing editor, Health magazine.

    ©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

    Last Editorial Review: 12/22/2006