1-minute workouts: 10 to try

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Fitness is like a drug; each person needs a different dose. But if you're time-pressed you can still benefit from the bare minimum: a one-minute burst of movement.

"A quick pump up—something like a jumping jack—is an all-over body workout that can get you over the low slump in the day," said personal trainer and fitness expert Tracey Mallett, who includes one-minute cardio intervals in her book "Sexy in 6" (Lifelong, $17.95).

Sadly, one measly 60-second workout won't blast you into shape. It can, however, quickly boost energy levels, refocus your attention and increase your blood flow. String four one-minute exercises together—one lower body, one upper body, one core and one cardio—and you've got a decent full-body workout, said Karen Rzesutko, co-founder of Chicago-based Escape 2 Fitness, which provides in-home and office health and fitness services.

Try these exercises, modeled by Rzesutko, for at least one minute:

Stairs

Work your butt muscles or glutes by running up stairs, pumping your arms. Walk down. To make it harder, try going up sideways or two stairs at a time, said Rzesutko.

Kegels

If you want a strong core—the foundation for everything—exercise your pelvic floor muscles. To find them, squeeze the muscles that you use to hold in urine and gas. Try to hold the contraction for a count of five. Repeat five to six sets of 10 holds a day. Do them every time you wash you hands, feed or change a baby, wait for an elevator, or sit through a red light.

Lunges

Lunges, which work the hips, core and lower legs, are to women what squats are to men, says personal trainer and massage therapist Mark Villa. To lunge, slowly step backward with one leg in the lunge position, bending both knees and lowering your hips so that the forward thigh is parallel with the floor. The front knee should be vertically above the foot and ankle. Return to the starting position. To modify, lunge, then twist to one side. Or hook your back foot on a chair.

Plank

To strengthen your transverse abdominus, lie on your stomach with your palms on the floor. Keep your elbows close to your sides and hands directly under your shoulders. Lift into pushup position, keeping torso and legs stiff. Hold for one minute. For variations, bring your knees to your chest while in plank position, jack the legs in and out or take turns lifting each foot, said Rzesutko.

Push-ups

In addition to strengthening the core, push-ups develop the pectoral muscles and triceps. Get in plank position with your feet together. Lower down toward the floor and push back up. If it's too hard, spread your feet about 6 inches apart or lower our knees to the floor. To make it harder, put your feet on a chair. To make it easier, do a wall push-up.

Scale tip

Raise your arms overhead, stand on one leg and tip to a forward position so the back leg and the hands make a parallel line to the floor. The scale tip or "seesaw" requires both concentration and stability. It tones the lower back, abdominals, hips and thighs. You can also do this holding an exercise ball.

Close your eyes

In many one-minute exercises, you can improve your balance and core stabilization muscles simply by shutting your eyes. Try to balance on one leg while moving the other leg in circles, said Rzesutko.

Chair squats

Stand up just as you're about to sit in your chair.

Arm circles

Remember doing arm circles in elementary school? They work the whole shoulder "girdle" and are a killer after one minute. Start by making small circular motions with both arms on either side. After a few repetitions of small circles, enlarge your circles and do the same number of reps.

Jump rope

Jumping and turning the rope uses muscles in both your upper and lower body, according to Martin Winkler, author of "RopeSport" (Wiley, $14.95). Averaging 120 jumps or rotations a minute is a moderate beginner pace. Do either a boxer's shuffle or two-footed jump; stay on the balls of your feet with your elbows by your side.

Bicycles

One of the top exercises to do at home, says Andy Petranek, owner of Crossfit L.A., a strength and conditioning system. Lie on your back with your fingers laced behind your head. Bring one knee in toward your chest while lifting your shoulder blades off the ground. The other leg should be extended straight, and lifted off the ground, simultaneously. Bring the left elbow toward the right knee (by lifting and slightly rotating your torso), while extending the left leg straight. Alternate sides.

The hydrant

To work your glutes, get on all fours and shoot your leg out directly to the side, as if you were karate-kicking someone who was next to you, said Hollywood fitness trainer Eric Fleishman, known as "Eric the Trainer." A bonus: "The closer the knee remains to the corresponding shoulder, the more this movement helps whittle down your waist," said Fleishman, whose television show on the WB network debuts in January.

jdeardorff@tribune.com
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