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The 10-minute workout

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  September 18, 2012 08:52 AM

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RyanHealy100.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

Remember; please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Do you ever have those days when despite your best efforts, because of travel or time constraints it looks like you might have to skip your usual workout? Here’s a 10-minute full-body routine that you can easily do in your home, office, hotel room, or at the park with your kids and not miss a beat. Let the excuses fall by the wayside!
The Workout: Consisting of five exercises that work most of the major muscle groups in the body, this workout is great when you’re short on time and can easily be made more or less challenging. It requires no exercise equipment and very little floor space.
Sets: If you have 10 minutes to spare, try doing this circuit of five exercises back to back without any rest, twice. If you have more time then you could add a third or fourth round.
Repetitions: When performing an exercise, do each one in a controlled manner with proper form about 15 times before moving onto the next exercise in the circuit. To add some variety to the workout, on occasion you could perform each exercise for a set amount of time instead. Anywhere from 40-60 seconds is a good place to start.

The Circuit:
1. Squat

Starting with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your side, send your hips back and down behind you as if sitting into a chair as you raise your hands straight out in front. Go as low as you can while still keeping a flat back. If your back starts to round you’ve gone too far down. Return to start position.

Tip: make sure your heels stay in contact with the ground the whole time (keep your weight back) so your knees don’t move beyond your toes. Hold dumbbells or raise your arms overhead to make this move more challenging.

2. Push-up

Begin with your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, arms outstretched, on the toes with feet shoulder with apart, and forming a straight line with your body from toes to ears. Keeping the abs and glutes braced and contracted, lower your body down as far as possible with proper form before touching the ground, then push back up to the start position.

Tips: Keep the neck in line with the spine while performing this exercise. Lower and raise the body all together, as opposed to pushing the hips up first and then the chest.
Modifications: Perform this exercise with the knees in contact with the floor as featured here or elevate the hands to a higher surface such as a table or step to make the exercise easier.

3. Supine Bridge

Lay flat on your back, bend your knees, arms straight out to either side, with feet in contact with the floor. Squeeze your glutes while pressing through your heels to lift the hips up off the floor until fully extended. Return to start position with hips back down on floor and repeat.

Tip: Keep the palms facing up towards the ceiling so as not to press into the floor.
To make this exercise harder, perform with one leg at a time as shown here.

4. Plank

Facing the floor, hold yourself in a position so that the only body parts that will be in contact with the ground will be both forearms on the floor (elbows bent at 90⁰) and the toes (tucked under) with legs extended. Your body should form a nice straight line from toes to ears much like the push-up position mentioned above. Hold still in this position for 30 to 60 seconds while keeping the abs braced and the glutes contracted. There should be no movement to this exercise.

Tip: Keep shoulders packed down and above the elbows. Palms face each other.
To make this exercise less challenging, perform with knees in contact with the ground instead of the toes as shown here.

5. Bird-Dog

Start on hands and knees from the floor with a 90⁰ angle at both the knees and hips and a flat back. Simultaneously raise both the right arm and left leg, reaching out to opposite sides with the fingers and toes. After a brief pause, lower down to the start position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Tip: Keep arms and legs straight in the raised position. Squeeze the glute on the active leg as you lift up. Keep shoulder blades away from your ears.

To increase the difficulty, hold a very light (under five lbs.) dumbbell in each hand.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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