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The 4-Minute Workout

Wake up a bit earlier and drop 6 pounds this month. Just follow these oh-so-easy tips from Chris and Heidi Powell of ABC's Extreme Weight Loss.

By Chee Gates

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The 4-Minute Workout
Barry Gossage Photography
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Get ready to slim down in less time than it takes to get through the checkout line at the supermarket. Chris and Heidi Powell, trainers and transformation specialists, designed this exclusive program with busy moms in mind. "When your time commitment is super small, the fear of failing disappears," says Chris, who wrote Choose More, Lose More for Life with his wife, Heidi. "Sticking to the plan becomes doable and you'll see results." Intense effort, however, is required -- along with a diet that will account for most of your weight loss. Carbs are on the menu (yeah, baby!) and you get to enjoy five meals a day to stay a step ahead of hunger. If you're in, read on.

The 4-Minute Workout

Give every sweat session your all -- well, 90% of your maximum heart rate, to be exact (see below). In a recent study, people who exercised only 4 minutes at 90% of their maximum heart rate showed similar improvements in blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and aerobic capacity to those who worked out 16 minutes at equal intensity. How is that possible? "When you train that hard, even if it's just for 4 minutes, your body changes for the better," Heidi explains. Doing multiple 4-minute workouts is like extra credit: It will fast-track your progress. Here's your slim-down schedule for weekdays only -- warm up with a minute of jumping jacks and get started.

HOW TO FIND YOUR 90

Break out your calculator and use this formula to figure out your 90% target heart rate.

  1. Subtract your age from 220 to get your max rate.
  2. Subtract 10% from your max. That's your 90.

Therefore, a woman age 45 would have a 90% HR target of 158.

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Monday Workout

50 High Knees: Lift left knee toward chest, followed by the right. Land softly on the ball of your foot.

10 Push-Ups: Place hands directly beneath shoulders as you lower chest toward floor.

Repeat couplet as many times as you can for 4 minutes.

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Tuesday Workout

Hamstring Bridge: Lie on your back with heels on the seat of a standard armchair. Lift and lower hips for 2 minutes.

Air Squats: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Quickly squat, keeping weight on heels, return to start and repeat for 2 minutes.

As you get fitter, reps should increase.

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Wednesday Workout

Hollow Rocks: Lie on your back, holding your legs and arms at a 45-degree angle. Use your core to lift upper body off the floor. Return to start, using momentum of rocking motion to go back and forth. Repeat for 1 minute.

Superman Lie: On your belly and perform the same rocking motion to work your back for 1 minute.

Alternate for 4 minutes. Up reps weekly.

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Thursday Workout

Reverse Lunges: Step left foot backward and drop left knee toward floor, keeping right knee behind right toe. Push off right heel to stand. Repeat with right leg.

Marching Soldiers: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Press hips upward as you raise your left knee, keeping it bent. Lower hips and left foot, and repeat on right side.

Perform each move for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. Alternate for 8 rounds.

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Friday Workout

Burpees: From standing, place hands on floor and pop legs back to push-up position. Pop legs forward, stand and jump, lifting arms overhead.

Swing-Ups: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor, arms extended overhead. Swing arms downward toward hips and do a sit-up. Return to start and repeat.

Complete 1 burpee and 1 swing-up. Then do 2 and 2; next, 3 and 3. Continue the pattern, seeing how many you can do in 4 minutes.

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