“This total-body routine uses compound moves, which means you move more than one muscle at the same time,” says Dixon. “Not only does that strategy mimic the demands of real life, it also fires up your metabolism more efficiently than if you were doing simpler moves.” Go through the following sequence three times, performing 15 reps of each exercise in each set. Equipment: hand weights (3–15 pounds) and a Swiss ball.
1. Squat with raise. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a 5- to 15-poundhand weight in both hands in front of you, palms facing in. As you squat down, keep knees over toes; raise the weight by bending your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Lower it as you stand up.
2. Press and lift. Lie with your back on a knee-high Swiss ball, feet flat on floor and knees bent 90 degrees. Hold a weight in each hand with your upper arms parallel to the ground and elbows bent 90 degrees. As you lift hips, squeeze glutes and straighten arms above chest; lower.
3. Curtsy lunge. Holding a weight in each hand, cross your left leg behind your right, as if you’re curtsying. Keep your weight on your left foot, and bend your left knee as you raise your arms, still straight, out to the sides. Go no higher than shoulder-height. Lower arms and straighten leg.
4. Sumo squat and curl. Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders and toes turned out 45 degrees; hold a weight in each hand. Squat straight down, and curl palms toward shoulders, holding upper arms still. Lower forearms and stand up.
5. Tuck outs. Sit on the floor with your feet up and knees tucked toward chest. Place hands behind you for balance (easier), or keep them by sides (harder). Slowly extend legs and drop upper body toward the floor at the same time, keeping your shoulder blades back; work toward getting both upper body and legs about 2 inches off the ground. Return to tuck position.
Other 30-minute ideas
>>Hilly retreat. Go for a 30-minute walk or run on a hilly route. When you hit the uphills, power up them—drive your arms, shorten your step, increase your intensity—and then catch your breath on the downhill.
>>Mix-and-match circuit. Get a pair of 5- to 15-poundhand weights, and put them next to some kind of cardio equipment (possibilities: a treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationary bike at the gym; a flight of stairs or jump rope at home; a running path outside; or some combination of those). Warm up with cardio at an easy pace for 4 minutes. Stop, pick up hand weights, and do squats for 1 minute. Go back to cardio for 2 minutes; up the intensity gradually if you like. Do lunges with hand weights for 1 minute. Repeat pattern—2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute of strength training—with this sequence: squats, push-ups, plank, sumo squats, bicycles, your choice. Cool down with a walk until the clock hits 30 minutes.