Not Enough Time to Workout? That’s No Excuse

When you do lateral shoulder raises, you may burn about 5 calories per minute. However if you do a push-up, which not only works the shoulder but also other muscles of the upper body and the core, you can increase the caloric expenditure by twofold.

So, when you are pressed on time and want to maximize the caloric expenditure while getting muscles to show off, include exercises that work more than one muscle at a time.

Two for the Price of One

Muscle work does not necessarily need marathon sessions. In fact, the most effective workouts are high intensity using exercises that work multiple joints simultaneously – the way the body moves and works on a daily basis. Involve as many muscles in the shortest time possible. This raises the pulse quickly, which not only helps increase total caloric expenditure, but also benefits the most important of all muscles, the heart.  So, instead of having to do a dumbbell curl for the biceps and a row for the back, you’ll just do an inverted row. This way you work the biceps, the back and the core at the same time.

In and Out

To maximize your time and calories burnt at the gym, this routine is designed in a circuit, which means to perform one exercise after another without rest. Just rest at the end of each circuit, unless you need it in between due to your fitness level.

The idea is to work on strength and strength endurance so if you are:

a)    Beginner: perform one circuit, 12 to 15 reps until you can progress to the intermediate/advanced level. Add one circuit every time if you stick to the program

b)   Intermediate/ Advanced: Perform three circuits changing the weight and reps for each one. After warming up for 10 minutes or so, do one circuit for 8 reps each exercise, do the second one for 10-12 while lowering the weight and perform the last one for 15 reps.

c)    There’s a bonus exercise at the end: the incline push-up. For this one, do as much as you can for 30 to 45 seconds. Make sure to change the position of the hands at each circuit to tackle different muscles. The lower the bar, the harder the exercise is.

d)   Stretch at the end of the whole routine.

e)    Have different sets of dumbbells ready to change to challenge yourself at the proper level. The last reps should always be challenging. For the purposes of the photo, I am using a simple weighted bar, but you can use a regular barbell, dumbbells or the Smith machine..

f)     Do this routine when you are pressed on time or any time that you want to round up an aerobic workout.  Rest at least one day in between.

The Exercises (click on top slideshow for visual instructions)

Inverted row: Works the back, biceps and core. Grab a fixed bar (a barbell inside a squat rack or Smith machine works well) and pull yourself up bringing the top of your chest to the bar. Keep your body in a straight line using your core.

Backward lunge to shoulder press: Works the gluteus, quadriceps and shoulders. Using a barbell on your back, take a step backward into a lunge. As you return to standing bring the barbell to the front of your shoulders, press it straight overhead.

Squat to deadlift: Works the quadriceps and hamstrings. With the barbell resting comfortably on your upper back, sit back and go into a squat. Press the weight up through your heels. Do a stiff-legged deadlift with the barbell starting in front of your thighs letting your arm hang loose, like anchors. Bend forward, keep your back straight, lowering the weight as low as you can without rounding your back. Return to standing using your hamstring and lower back muscles under control.

Plank to tricep extension: Works the core and triceps. Get into the plank position and row a single dumbbell up. From there use your triceps to do a kickback.

Bonus move

Incline push-ups: In three positions (shoulder width apart, wider and narrow): Works the pectorals, triceps, shoulders, core. Set the Smith bar at a height that is an appropriate challenge. The lower the bar is, the harder the pushup is. The two other positions are not shown, but the variations work different areas of the pectorals and triceps.

Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.

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