We already know that exercise makes us feel good and improves overall physical fitness, but did you know exercise can also make you smarter? It’s true.
Exercise starts a chain reaction that boosts brain health. Researchers at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School have honed in on a specific molecule released during endurance exercise that improves cognition and protects the brain against degeneration. Wait. There’s more. Research at Harvard Medical School shows exercise improves memory and thinking skills. Aerobic exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.
Still need a little more motivation? The mental benefits of exercise gives you even more reasons to workout this week.
Work your total body AND brain with this 30-minute interval workout.
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I know I include the following with every workout and you’re probably tired of seeing it, but form and individual fitness level are so important for safety and to get the most out of your workouts.
MODIFY BASED ON YOUR INDIVIDUAL FITNESS LEVEL AND NEEDS
When choosing weights, each exercise should challenge your muscles enough that you struggled toward the end, but you’re able to complete the prescribed number of reps. If any exercise is too hard, use a lighter weight, choose an easier variation of the move or increase the rest time. If an exercise feels too easy, use a heavier weight, choose a harder variation or decrease the rest time.
For each exercise, you’ll work for 30 seconds and then rest 30 seconds. Perform each exercise as a circuit, doing one set of each exercise in succession. Do as many reps as you can in 30 seconds per exercise, rest 30 seconds, and then move on to the next. Do 1-4 sets based on your fitness level.
Time: approximately 30 minutes to complete the warm-up, circuits 1-3 one time through and the cool down
- dumbbells 5-8 pounds (depending on your fitness level)
- mat (optional)
- Keep your core tight
- Shoulders blades down and back
- Don’t skip the warm-up or stretching.
- Use proper body alignment and good form.
- Reps and rest periods should be based on your fitness level.
- Modify as needed to meet your fitness level by increasing/decreasing reps, weight and sets.
- Gradually increase intensity based on your progress.
I am a certified personal trainer, but this workout was not created for your specific fitness level and needs. Make modifications as needed. Intensity and rest periods should be based on your individual fitness level. See your physician before beginning any exercise program. This web site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your personal physician. Any application of this or any other exercise routine set forth in this program is at the viewer’s discretion and sole risk.
Front and Back Lunge with Lateral Raise (1) Stand with your feet hip width apart, with dumbbells in each hand and the weight in your heels. (2) Pull your abdominals in and stand with your shoulders squarely over your hips. (3) Perform a forward lunge, exhale and press off the ball of your foot, stepping back into the starting position. (4) In start position, with palms turned toward your body, keeping your arms straight, exhale and lift the weights out and up to the sides until they are parallel to the ground. (5) Hold for a beat. (6) Inhaling, slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. (7) With the same leg, perform a backward lunge. (8) Return to start position and repeat the lateral raise in between performing the forward and backward lunge. Targets: shoulders, quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves
Prisoner Squat (1) Stand with your feet hip width apart and back naturally arched. Brace your core throughout the entire exercise. (2) Place your fingers on the back of your head as if you were going to do a crunch. Keep your elbows and shoulders back, weight in your heels and eyes focused straight ahead. (3) Lower your body as far as you can (or until thighs are parallel to the floor) by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. (4) Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. Targets: quads, core, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
Dumbbell Step-Up (1) Hold a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides at arms length. (2) Stand in front of a bench or step, and place your left foot firmly on the step. (3) Press your left heel into the step and push your body up until your left leg is straight. (4) Lower your body back down until your right foot touches the floor, and repeat. (5) Complete the prescribed repetitions with your left leg, then do the same number of reps with your right leg. Remember: The step should be a very stable surface and high enough so that your knee is bent 90 degrees. Keep your shoulders back. Targets: glutes, hamstrings
Mountain Climber (1) Start in a plank position with your feet hip width apart. (2) Bend your right knee and with a springing movement, bring your thigh under the right side of your torso. (3) Quickly spring back out to the start position while jumping your left knee in toward your torso. Keep your pace as fast as possible. Targets: cardiorespiratory system, chest, shoulders, lower abs, traverse abs
Plank with Shoulder Tap (1) Start in a push-up position except keep your hands directly under your shoulders instead of outside of your chest. (2) Legs are straight out behind you with feet together. (3) You are balancing on your palms and the balls of your feet. Hold this position. (4) Alternate tapping your shoulders with your torso and hips squared to the ground and no movement. Perform for the prescribed number of repetitions. Left shoulder tap and right shoulder tap is one rep. Targets: abdominals
Dumbbell Side Lunge (1) Stand with your feet hip distance apart and feet pointed straight ahead. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at arms length down by your sides with your palms facing each other. (2) Lift your left foot and take a big step to our left. Keep your foot flat on the floor as you push your hips back and lower your body by dropping your hips and bending your left knee. (3) Pause, then push yourself back up to start position with your bodyweight in your heels. Keep your core engaged and your torso upright. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Targets: quads, calves, glutes, hamstrings
Dumbbell Row with Rotation (1) Stand straight, feet hip-width apart with a dumbbell in one hand. Keeping your abs pulled in, bend forward at the waist until your torso is almost parallel to the floor (brace yourself on a chair or workout bench if needed for support). (2) Let the dumbbell hang from your shoulder, your palm facing behind you. (2) Keeping your arm close to your torso, exhale and pull the dumbbell up. (3) As you row the dumbbell, rotate the same side of your torso upward. (4) Pause, then lower your body and the weight back to start position. (5) Complete the prescribed number of reps with one arm, then to the same number of reps with the opposite arms. Targets: upper and middle back, biceps, rear deltoids, obliques
Push-Up (1) Lie face down with your legs straight out in behind you and your feet together. (2) Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor put to the sides of your chest. Position your palms so they are directly under your elbows. When your arms are bent they should form a 90-degree angle. (3) Your neck should be straight and your eyes focused on the floor in front of you. (4) Keep your abs tight. (5) Straighten your arms so that your body is hovering over the floor, balancing on your palms and the balls of your feet. (6) Bend your elbows and lower your entire body until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. (7) Exhaling, push back up to the starting position. Targets: chest, shoulders, triceps, abs
Crunch (1) Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor about hip width apart. (2) Place your hands behind your head being careful not to pull on your head and neck. Keep your elbows open and out to the side. Keep your chin up and off your chest. (2) Take a deep breath, then exhale curling up until your shoulder blades lift off the floor. (3) Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, fully exhale for complete contraction of the abs, then slowly lower yourself back to start position. Targets: rectus abdominis
Plank with Arm Lift (1) Start in plank position with your feet wider than your shoulders, instead of placing them close together. (2) Raise and straighten your right arm with your thumb pointing up and hold it at a diagonal in relation to your torso. (3) Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and switch arms. Each arm raise is one rep. Targets: rectus abdominis, lower back, chest, shoulders
Lateral Raise (1) Stand with feet positioned over the center of a tube band, shoulder-width apart. Hold each handle with arms down at your side and palms facing in. (2) Bending your elbows slightly, raise your arms straight out to the side to shoulder height. (3) Slowly lower down to start position. Targets: shoulders, upper back, chest and core
Twisting Dumbbell Curl (1) Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand letting them hang at arm’s length next to your sides. Turn your arms so that your palms face each other next to your thighs. Keep your chest up. (2) As you curl the weights toward your shoulders, rotate your palms to facing upward. Pause. (3) Slowly lower the weight back to start position rotating our arms so the palms return to facing inward. Repeat. Targets: biceps
Tricep Kickback (1) Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. (2) Bend over at the waist so your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Bend both elbows so that your upper arm is locked at your side and parallel to the floor. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor. (3) Keeping your upper arm still, straighten your arms behind you until the end of the dumbbell is pointing toward the floor with your palms facing in toward your body. Hold for a beat and inhale, slowly lowering your arms back to the start position. Repeat. Keep your abs tight and your back flat. Do not let your upper arm move during the entire exercise. Targets: triceps
Standing Russian Twist (1) Stand with feet just beyond shoulder width holding a dumbbell (or medicine ball) with both hands in front of your chest, with your arms straight out at shoulder level. (2) Keeping your arms straight out in front of you, pivot on your right foot and rotate the dumbbell and your torso as far as you can to the left. (3) Then, do the same to the right. That’s one rep. Complete the prescribed number of reps. Targets: rectus abdominis, internal and external oblique and transverse abs
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