Unless you're a bona fide gym rat, you're probably looking for the best results in the least amount of time spent exercising. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to use "compound" exercises during your workouts.
Compound movements save time by working muscle groups instead of individual muscles. They burn more calories; allow for a full-body workout; improve coordination, reaction time and balance; strengthen connective tissue; increase overall strength; and provide cardiovascular benefits.
The exercises below can be a workout by themselves or used to add intensity to your regular routine. Adjust weight and repetitions to your level of fitness, and warm up first with five to 10 minutes of light cardio.
One-legged bent-over rows
1. In a standing position, hold dumbbells in both hands and bend at the hips until upper body is parallel to the floor. Keep back flat and torso tight.
2. Lift one leg behind until level with hips. Pull dumbbells toward chest in a rowing motion. Continue to hold position through 10 to 12 repetitions of rowing motion.
Squats with push-ups
1. Start with knees bent, hands and toes touching the floor. Keep torso tight.
2. Bend deeper through knees to squat position, then jump back into a push-up position.
3. Depending on strength level, stay on toes or use knees while lowering body into a push-up.
4. At top of push-up, jump back to start position and repeat 10 to 12 times.
Dead lifts with shrugs
1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells in front, facing thighs.
2. Bend at the waist while keeping back flat and knees relaxed, not locked. Hold dumbbells close to body.
3. Squeeze glutes and slowly rise until you are almost completely upright (maintain a slight angle forward). Shrug shoulders toward ears. Lower shoulders and repeat, alternating dead lifts and shrugs, 10 to 12 times.
Pliť squats with upright rows
1. Start with feet wider than shoulders, toes pointed out. Hold hand weights or bar in front.
2. Bending knees, lower into a squat. Keep knees in line with toes.
3. As body lowers, bend elbows and raise weight to chest level, leading with the elbows.
4. Stand, lower weight and repeat, 10 to 12 reps.
Dips with leg extensions
1. Sitting on the floor, place weights next to your hips and hold onto them as you push off the floor. Keep knees bent.
2. Bend the elbows while lowering the body toward the floor and extend right leg out straight.
3. Lower leg as you push back up and repeat, alternating legs for each rep. Repeat eight to 10 times.
Front lunge with lateral raise
1. Holding weights in front, step forward into a lunge, bending knees to a 90-degree angle. Keep front knee behind toe and elbows bent.
2. During lunge, lift arms straight out to the side, elbows bent in a 90-degree angle, parallel to the ground.
3. Step back to starting position, lower arms and repeat 10 to 12 times.