If you’re going to the trouble of getting fit – double-up your workout with these ‘Bust One, Get One For Free’ exercises that target two or more parts of the body in just one move.
While the weekly supermarket sweep might sometimes feel like a weightlifting session (especially with kids in tow), there are easier ways to get your fitness fix. And, if you’re busting a gut trying to squeeze some spare time into your schedule, try packing cardio and conditioning into one workout instead of two.
Former Gladiator stars Jenny Pacey and Wayne Gordon, from Pace and Go fitness in London, says faster always means fitter.
“So many people waste time in the gym because they bounce around without any real goal; doing a little bit of this machine and a little bit of that,” says Jenny, who also happens to be a retired Olympic Bob-sleigher, international pentathlete and long-jumper for Great Britain! “The simple rule is: exercises that force your body to move the most (and the quickest) offer the biggest benefits – think squats, deadlifts, sprints and push ups.”
So, okay… while not all of us will be able to achieve those gladiatorial glutes, even a few small exercises each day can make a difference to our body shape and weight, especially if they are combined.
“Combination moves are a time-short mum’s best friend,” affirms London personal trainer Anna Reicht from A-PT Personal Training. “The more muscles you use in one exercise, the harder your heart has to work – so they’re super pulse raisers and big time calorie burners in one!”
Here’s four to try…
1. The bottom line
What? The Deadlift.
Targets? Lower body: strengthens the back and tones glutes and hamstrings.
How? Stand with your legs hip-width apart, dumbbells in front of your thighs and a slight kink in your knees. Drive your hips back and lower the dumbbells to your knees, or just past, with a flat back and eyes up. Reverse the movement back to the start position and repeat. Remember to only move from the hips here.
Why? “This exercise targets our biggest muscles so it burns the most calories and creates the biggest ‘after-burn’,” says Anna from A-PT.
Tip: If you don’t have dumbbells, use two plastic bottles filled with water or 2x cans of beans.
2. A weight off your shoulders
What? Dumbbell Thruster.
Targets? Essentially a squat with a shoulder press – this exercises your lower and upper body in one swoop.
How? Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding your weights at chin height in front of you with a tight core to support your back. Perform a squat, pushing the bottom backwards slightly and flexing at the knees. Continue down until you are in a full squat position then drive up, pressing the weights overhead as you stand. Repeat.
Why? “Exercises that incorporate two or more muscle groups like this are a sure fire way to get more out of your session,” says David Kingsbury, fitness trainer to the stars and responsible for Hollywood hunk Hugh Jackman’s muscle-bound physique in Wolverine.
Tip: “If you really want to stretch yourself, add a five minute warm up (jogging, skipping), a 20 second thruster, have 10 seconds rest and then add another eight thrusters and a five minute cool down,” says David.
3. The thigh’s the limit
What? Warrior lunge
Targets? Glutes, thighs and hamstrings.
How? Keeping you upper body straight with shoulders relaxed and tummy tight, step forward with one leg, lowering your hip until both knees are at a 90-degree angle and lift your arms. Ensure your front knee doesn’t go over your toe; keep the weight in your front heel and your back heel lifted. Repeat.
Why? “Perform an equal number of reps on each leg, between 12-20 each side, and you’ll burn calories for weight loss and tone up at the same time,” says former Tottenham Hotspur footballer Paul Ellis from Ellis Stockwell personal training in North London.
Tip: “Try stepping forward with the leading foot and do a glute activation lunge instead,” says Paul, who helped whip Eastenders’ Jessie Wallace into shape. “Cross your right leg in front of your left, lunging and then twisting your torso to the right.”
4. Tri it on
What? Arnold Press.
Targets? Shoulders and triceps.
How? Get Schwarzenegger shoulders by standing with two dumbbells positioned in front of your shoulders, palms facing the body and elbows under wrists. Start by bringing the elbows out to sides, palms turning out then press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are straight. Reverse back to start position and go again.
Why? “Not only are they an efficient use of a shorter window of time because they target the front and side of the shoulders, as well as the triceps, but they’re a good way to introduce strength training in to your workout week if you’re a cardio addict!” says Anna at A-PT.
Tip: Begin with a light set of 2kg dumbbells and move up to a heavier weight as you get more proficient.
This article originally appeared in Essentials Magazine