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The Busy Mom's Guide to Working Out

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Think you don’t have enough time to work out? If you think you need to set aside an hour to get in a useful workout, think again. You can get a great workout in just 20 minutes.

Try out this routine that repeats working your lower body, upper body, and core. Do each exercise for one minute, and you will keep your heart rate up and get an effective workout. Plus, you don’t need to go to the gym or spend a lot of money on expensive equipment; you can do this workout right at home.

Squats — Because they target the muscles of the hips, glutes, and thighs, squats are one of the best lower body exercises you can do. Hold on to a stairwell or a chair with your feet shoulder distance apart. Inhale as you contract your stomach muscles tightly, and slowly bend your knees as you squat towards the floor. Do not go below 90 degrees. Exhale as you contract your glutes and hamstrings to slowly bring your legs back up to standing position.

Push-ups — A great way to tone the upper body. Place your hands and knees on the floor. Keeping your glutes and abs tight, your back should be in one diagonal line with your head and neck. Inhale as you lower yourself to the floor, stopping as your elbows reach a 90-degree bend. Keep your body from touching the floor. Exhale and push yourself away from the floor. As you do the push-ups, do not lock your elbows or bend your back.

Planks — This is one of the best moves to strengthen your core, which consists of your abdominals, lower back, and hips. Start by lying facedown on the floor. Place your forearms on the floor, with your shoulders aligned directly over your elbows. Clasp your hands in front of you. Extend your legs behind you, and rest on your toes, as if you are going to do a push-up. Do not lift your hips or arch your back; instead, try to attain a straight line between your shoulders and toes. Tighten your abdominal muscles and hold this position as long as you can (it’s okay to take a break during the minute). Challenge yourself to hold the position for longer periods of time as you continue to do this workout.

Dips — Another great exercise to strengthen your upper body. Find a sturdy chair, bench, or table that will hold your weight. Place your hands on either side of your hips so your palms are resting on the furniture and your fingers are hanging over the edge. Place your feet together firmly on the floor. Try to get your feet as far in front of you as possible. Tighten your abdominal muscles to prevent injuring your back during the exercise. Carefully move your backside off the furniture, leaving your hands in place. Keep your held lifted up and your back straight. Slowly lower your hips as far as you’re able, bending your elbows backward while keeping your arms close to your sides. Do not sit back on the furniture. Using your arms, lift yourself up to the starting position.

Crunches — The classic exercise for strengthening the core, but you need to do it properly. Lie down on the floor on your back, and bend your knees. Hands can either be behind your head or across your chest. Pull your belly button toward your spine, and flatten your lower back against the floor. Slowly contract your abdominals, bringing your shoulder blades about one or two inches off the floor. Exhale as you come up and keep your neck straight, chin up. Hold at the top of the movement for a few seconds, breathing continuously. Slowly lower back down as you inhale.

Remember to keep breathing through the entire workout. Doing so sends vital oxygen to your muscles and helps them stay strong longer.

Repeat above two more times. If you complete the five exercises above a total of three times, this workout will take you 20 minutes.

If you do this workout three times per week, that’s only one hour per week. Just think, with just one hour every week, you have found the time to exercise. You’ll feel better and see results! Remember to keep it simple, set realistic goals, stay consistent, and set yourself up for success.

About the author. Ellen Yates, President and Founder of N2SHAPE®, has been providing personal training, group training, and corporate fitness programs to busy moms in the northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., areas for over 20 years. For more information about personal training or becoming part of a group training program, contact Ellen at ellen@n2shape.com or (703) 906-4413.

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