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For the biggest bang for your buck, pair the strength-training routine with a cardiovascular exercise that provides muscle-building resistance. Walking, jogging, or biking are your best bets, says Dr. Theodosakis, a Family Circle Health Advisory Board member. "Most important, it's got to be a routine you enjoy, so you will stick with it," he says. Aim to do cardio exercise for 30 minutes, four to five times a week.
At least twice a week set aside 20 minutes to increase your muscle tone. Here are four simple moves that work the larger muscles in the body (the bigger the muscles, the more energy they burn). You'll need two 5-pound weights and an exercise band.
Works quads, hamstrings, and butt muscles
Stand with feet farther than hip-width apart, legs bent slightly, toes turned out, hands holding the back of a chair for support. Pull abs in and keeping back straight, slowly bend knees to lower hips as far as possible without leaning forward or backward. Straighten up to starting position and repeat. Begin with two sets of 10-15 repetitions and progress to 25 reps. Once you can do that, hold the 5-pound weights while you squat.
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Works quads, hamstrings, butt and calf muscles
Take a long step and place one foot about 3 feet in front of the other, front knee aligned above front ankle, back heel lifted, hands entwined behind your back. Slowly lower hips about 8 inches and hold that position for three counts. Slowly raise hips up again to starting position. Start with two sets of 5 to 10 reps, then switch sides. Aim to progress to 20 reps. Once you can do this, add the weights to this move too.
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Works shoulders and arms
Sit on a chair or bench, feet flat on floor, holding a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand, elbows at your sides, hands near shoulders, palms facing forward. Pull abs in and slowly straighten your arms so they're fully extended overhead. Lower arms (again slowly) to starting position and repeat 10 times, progressing to 15 over a few weeks. Once you can do this, take a short rest and add another set of 15 reps.
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Works upper and middle back, shoulders, and biceps
Sit on floor with legs extended in front of you, back straight. Wrap an exercise band around the bottoms of your feet and hold ends in hands, arms extended in front of you. Pull abs in and then pull your hands toward your waist, stretching the band, while keeping back straight. Return to starting position and repeat 10-12 times. Once you can do this, add another set of 12 reps.
Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.