Fitness Friday: The Fifteen-Minute Super-Workout

It’s Friday! Here’s a 15-minute workout that will get your weekend off to a great start! This workout alternates between cardio and strength exercises, and is ideally suited for the outdoors.  All you need is a bit of floor space (or lawn) and an exercise mat, towel, rug or picnic blanket for cushioning.

Warm-up (3 minutes): Walk briskly, jog slowly, march in place – just get your blood pumping. Vary your stride length and step height (high knees, butt kicks) to move your knees and hips through a full range of motion, and loosen up your upper body by doing arm circles in both directions as you go.

Cardio/Strength Circuit (9 minutes): Move right into the following circuit. Do each exercise for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.

Jumping Jacks
Pushups
High-Knee Jog In Place
Lunges – Left Leg Forward
Lunges – Right Leg Forward
Mountain Climbers
Crunches (Never do crunches with straight legs!)
Triangle Pushups (Same as regular pushups, but place your hands close together and form a triangle with your index fingers and thumbs)
Squat Jumps

Cool-Down (3 minutes): Take a slow walk around the block to let your heart rate return to normal.  If time allows, add 5 or 10 minutes of stretching afterward.

Modifications: Remember that you should only exercise if you are healthy enough to do so (ask your doctor).  If you’re only able to exercise at a light or moderate intensity, you can modify the exercises in this workout to meet your current level of fitness.  If you are injured, you should skip any exercises that involve the injured joint or muscle group.

Jumping Jacks: If regular jumping jacks are too tall an order, try doing 20 seconds of arms only (wave arms overhead like you’re trying to get someone’s attention) and then 20 seconds of legs only (hands on hips, hop or step your feet a comfortable width apart and back together).

Pushups: If you can’t do pushups on your toes, drop to your knees.  If that’s still too challenging, then from a standing position, do your pushups while leaning forward agains an immovable object (a wall or a large tree, for example).

High-Knees: Instead of jogging, just march in place with high knees.  Still too tough?  Just march in place.

Lunges: You can modify these by simply not going down as far.  As long as you can feel some muscle strain in your thighs, it’s working!

Mountain Climbers: These are a tough exercise.  You can modify it by stepping one leg forward at a time, rather than jumping to switch foot positions with each repetition.  If you’re not able to support your body weight on your arms, just repeat the jumping jacks for this 45-second interval.

Crunches: Even if you’re not coming very far off the ground, as long as you can feel some activity in your abdominals, the crunches are working.  If an injury or chronic condition prevents you from doing crunches, simply lie on your back in sit-up position and do 5-second Bracing intervals: Clench your abs like you’re about to be punched for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds, repeating for the entire 45-second interval).

Triangle Pushups: See modification notes for Pushups, above.

Squat Jumps: These are exhausting and high-impact!  Tone them down by slowing your pace (only do 5 – 7 jumps in 45 seconds) or removing the jump (just doing the squat portion, to whatever depth you’re able).

If you’re unsure about how to do a particular exercise, consult the ACE Exercise Library HERE.  (You can type any exercise name into the search bar in the far upper-right-hand corner of that page to quickly find what you’re looking for.)

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