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The 15-Minute Strength-Training Workout

Learn to Lunge
Lunges are basically just one-legged squats. They work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. You can use your body weight as resistance or, in a pinch, you can hold light dumbbells or anything else you have around (jugs of water work well). If you use weight, be sure to hold an equal amount in each hand. When you perform the lunge be sure to keep your torso upright and keep your front knee from passing forward of your big toe. Note how Jonathan's back is straight and his knees are behind his toes as he finishes his lunge.

Creative Calisthenics
With just these three exercises and a couple of ab exercises, you can give your muscles a good workout. Try this routine:

  • Lunges
  • Push-ups (standard shoulder width hand placement)
  • Push-ups (feet elevated, shoulder-width hand placement)
  • Push-ups (narrow-width hand placement)
  • Pull-ups (military grip)
  • Pull-ups (wide grip)
  • Chin-ups
  • Crunches
Because you're moving your body weight (and not an adjustable stack of weights), you can't adjust the resistance – unless you have a spotter who can help give you a nudge on the way up. As a result, some people will do two or three pull-ups while others will be able to do 15 or 20. Your concern should be to gradually improve – don't worry about how many reps you can do. The key is maintaining good form and pushing yourself to failure.

Clearly, 15 minutes isn't a lot of time, but it is enough to give your muscles a good pump. Any of these routines – bands, manuals, or calisthenics – can be done in your office, living room, or hotel room. Remember that while 15 minutes isn't the same as a full workout in the gym, it's far better than a day without exercise. Think about that the next time you're lounging on the couching watching ESPN.

The Least You Need to Know

  • While 15 minutes of strength training isn't enough time to enable you to be in the next Mr. or Ms. Olympia contest, it is enough time for you to get a basic foundation of strength.
  • Though not our favorite choice, resistance bands can give you an effective workout when you have no alternative.
  • Manuals can be a fun way to work out with a buddy and they are killer routines to boot.
  • Forget all the fancy stuff; some of the best athletes sculpt their fabulous bodies by doing good old calisthenics.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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