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If time is a factor or it’s tough to be motivated to do a long workout, you can set 10 minutes aside to perform a mini workout.

What do you need:

  • Yoga mat
  • Set of dumbbells
  • Stopwatch

The weight factor should make the exercises challenging but still done with proper form. This is an intermediate level workout that can be done anywhere but requires dumbbells or hand weights. If you like to work at an easier level you may do the routine with no weights at all. These exercises involve compound movements, which is working multiple muscles and joints at once. Compound moves are more challenging than single joint exercises (isolating working muscles) and can maximize the workout’s effectiveness in less time.

Start with a short warm up of body weight squats, lunges, side bends, and a light march or jog. This will get your joints and muscles warm and prepared to workout.

The objective is to perform each exercise for 30 seconds (around 12-15 reps) with little or no rest in between. This is to keep the heart rate up continuously to challenge your cardiovascular system and muscular endurance in the short session. After completing the first set of moves, take a short break and repeat three more times.

Dumbbell squats:

Have one dumbbell held up by the chest or two resting on your shoulders. Stand with legs about shoulder-width apart, squat down through the hip and knee like you are about to sit into a chair. Keeping the knees from going past the toes and the chest upright, drive with your heels in the floor as you rise up. Continue with the squats for 30 seconds.

Straight leg deadlift with bent over row:

With dumbbells in each hand, soft knees but relatively straight legs, hinge forward from the hips. Your shoulders are rolled back and the back is straight. Row the dumbbells towards your torso by squeezing the upper back muscles, bring the weights down, and contract the glutes and hamstrings as you hinge back to standing upright, repeat. Watch for any rounding of the back, if that happens do not tilt as far down and focus on bringing the glutes towards the back wall.

A variation is to use one leg for those with no weights.

Reverse lunges with bicep curls:

With weights in each hand, lunge one foot back and bend the knees to make a 90-degree bend in both legs. Make sure your front knee is above the ankle. As you lunge, perform a bicep curl with the weights. Bring the feet back together and lower the weights, then do a lunge on the other leg.

Chest fly in bridge:

Lie on the floor with your back and head on the mat. Bring the soles of the feet close to the body and the knees towards each other. With your core tight, lift the hips up into a bridge pose. Take the weights and hold them above the chest you’re your palms in. Bend the elbows slightly open and squeeze the chest to bring the weights back up. If you have no weights, a set pushups can be an alternative.

Crunch with leg extensions:

Place the weights away and lower your hips down. Have your knees above your hips and hands by your ears. Keeping the chin off the chest, curl up in a standard crunch. You can continue with the crunches or extend one or both legs out at the top part of the crunch. Make sure your lower back is not arching excessively, if so bend the knees or take it down a level.

Rest for about 30 seconds to a minute before repeating the set. Aim to do the combo three times for approximately 10 minutes of work.

—Submitted by Florence S., University of Saskatchewan