The Busy Woman's Workout

The Busy Woman's Workout

You haven’t seen your walking shoes in weeks. Your philosophy? If you can’t work out for 40 minutes, there’s no point in exercising. Ditch that all or nothing approach. Instead, break your workout in half — walking off pounds in the morning and toning up in the evening. Our two 20-minute routines — one cardio, one strength — show you how.

Quickie Cardio

"Twenty minutes allows enough time to get your heart rate up and work up a sweat,” says Helen Kim, fitness manager of the Sports Club/LA in Miami. The key is intensity. This plan increases heart rate to boost cardio results. We recommend using a heart-rate monitor for accuracy, but if you don’t have one, here’s how to gauge your activity:

To determine your resting heart rate, place your first two fingers on your wrist or at the side of your neck and count your pulse for 10 seconds. Then multiply that number by six.

For your maximal heart rate (MHR), subtract your age from 220. Then figure your heart rate zones by multiplying that number by 50 percent, then 60 percent, and finally 80 percent. Those are the numbers you’ll want to hit on the routine below:

  • 2 minutes: Walk at a slow pace (50% of your MHR).
  • 5 minutes: Walk at a moderate pace, pumping your arms back and forth (60% of your MHR).
  • 7 minutes: Walk faster, feeling your breathing increase (80% of your MHR).
  • 4 minutes: Walk at a moderate pace (60% of your MHR).
  • 2 minutes: Walk at a slow pace (50% of your MHR).

The Super-fast Strength Routine

Designed by Kim, these moves utilize numerous muscles at once, giving you the most calorie burn in the least amount of time. First, warm up by marching in place. Then perform 12 to 15 reps of each exercise. Move from one to another, and when you reach the end, repeat once more from the beginning.

Bridge Tilts (abs, back, glutes, hamstrings)

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Arms rest at your sides. Contract your glutes and abdominals and slowly lift your hips off the floor until your knees, hips and shoulders form one line. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly release hips to the floor. Repeat. To make this more challenging, cross your arms over your chest.

Squats with Shoulder Presses (glutes, hamstrings, quads, shoulders)

Stand, feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and bend elbows to bring weights to shoulders. Shift your weight onto your heels and lower into a squat as if you were sitting into a chair, thighs almost parallel to the ground. (Keep your knees behind your toes.) At the same time, press dumbbells straight up, keeping elbows slightly bent. Release and repeat.

Lunge and Lift (quads, hamstrings, glutes)

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Step forward with your right foot, landing with your heel first and keeping the knee over the ankle. Keep your left heel lifted and lower knee toward the floor. Right thigh is almost parallel with the floor.

From this position, push off your right foot, lifting the right leg off the floor, and balance on your left leg. (If this is too challenging, place your right foot on the floor.) Continue lunging and lifting the right foot for one set, then repeat on left side.

Push-up with a Twist (chest, abs, back, shoulders)

Start in a push-up position with your hands and feet on the floor, hands aligned under your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. (Drop to your knees if this is too difficult.) Contract your abdominals and, without letting your back sag, bend elbows to lower body toward the floor.

Push up and rotate your body so you’re facing right, the outer left foot and inner right foot on the floor for balance. Extend your right hand overhead so it’s in line with your left shoulder. Both arms should be fully extended without locking your elbows. Place your right arm back on floor. Do on opposite side; return to start and repeat.

Lean-Forward Kickbacks (arms, back, quads)

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hinge forward from your hips, place your left hand on left thigh and hold dumbbell in your right hand. Let the arm hang toward the floor. Keeping your abdominals tight and your back flat, pull the dumbbell toward your armpit, then slowly extend it behind you. Bring the weight back toward the armpit before lowering to start. After completing one set, switch to the left side and repeat.