With spring finally here and the warm months of summer quickly approaching, it only makes sense that you’d be thinking about ways to turn up the dial on your weight loss routine. Not only do you want to look fantastic in your spring attire, but you want to be fit enough to enjoy all your favorite warm weather activities as well.
Thankfully, you don’t need an expensive gym membership to enjoy a great fat loss workout. You don’t need a lot of free time, either. Just set aside a 20-minute window in the morning to run through some basic exercises. You’ll get your metabolism revved up first thing, maximizing your energy levels and calorie-burning potential all day long.
Photo credit womenshealthandfitness.com.au
When it comes to exercises you probably don’t do, but absolutely should, windmills are definitely on the list. They’re fantastic for improving the strength of your midsection, especially your abs. They also help alleviate lower back pain and stiffness. Windmills help improve the stability and mobility of your shoulders, as well. You can even do them with kettlebells or a pair of dumbbells to incorporate strength training into the mix.
- Stand up straight with your arms extended to either side. Make sure your ab muscles are activated and engaged.
- Bend from the waist and touch your left toe with your right arm. Repeat with your right toe and left arm.
- Continue until you’ve completed 25 reps, alternating from side to side with each repetition.
2. Pulsing Lounges
No morning workout would be complete without at least one exercise that targets the lower body, and lunges are incredibly effective. Plus, they’re relatively easy to execute for people of all fitness levels. Lunges engage the quadriceps while also activating other muscles. These include the glutes, calves, and hamstrings. Your core muscles come into play, as well. Lunges are also great for your posture, as they require you to lift your chest and maintain a straight back throughout the movement. This pulsing version is an especially good way to limber up first thing in the morning.
- Keeping your back straight and your core engaged, lunge forward with your right leg.
- Hold the position for a count of 4 seconds. Then gently pulse up and down five times.
- Repeat with your left leg.
- Repeat all steps 2-3 more times.
3. Dumbbell Kickbacks
When it comes to arm muscles, everyone remembers to pay enough attention to the biceps. The triceps, on the other hand, are often neglected because they’re on the back of your upper arm. Out of sight, out of mind! Dumbbell kickbacks are a great way to strengthen and tone these muscles. When done properly, they do a great job of isolating for better results. Add this move to your morning workout routine, and you’ll be rewarded with strong with strong, lean arms.
- Hold a dumbbell in your left hand.
- Bend forward at the hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor.
- Bring your elbow in toward your ribs, straighten your forearm, and return.
- Repeat the sequence with your right arm.
- Continue until you’ve completed 15 reps for each arm.
4. Plank Push-Up Combo
Getting into a plank position is a simple process; it’s holding the position that delivers the challenge. Being able to do so correctly requires solid strength in your midsection, back, and abs. For that reason, it’s one of the best exercises around for building core strength, improving posture, aiding balance, and boosting endurance. Planks also activate your glutes and hamstrings for extra benefits. Push-ups deliver many of the same benefits while working your arms and chest to perfection. Combine the two for a great addition to any morning routine.
- Get into a standard plank position—palms on the floor, abs engaged, and back straight.
- Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.
- Drop to your knees and do 15 push-ups.
5. Squat Biceps Curl Combo
Photo credit womanista.com
Even if you only have limited knowledge of standard fitness moves, you’re probably familiar with squats, and with good reason. Squats are excellent at building and toning various leg muscles, including your hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps. However, they also result in an anabolic environment within the body, which promotes muscle building in other parts of the body. When you’re pressed for time, squats pair perfectly with classic bicep curls, making this combo a perfect fit for even the busiest morning routine.
- While holding your choice of a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand, lower into a squat position. Hold it for a few seconds, and then return. Repeat until you’ve completed 10 reps.
- On your last rep, stay down in a squat position and do 10 biceps curls.
6. Bridge Chest Fly Combo
No strong, fit physique would be considered complete without a well-toned chest, and this goes for both males and females. Dumbbell flys are among the most effective ways to strengthen your pectoral muscles. They’re also among the simplest, fastest moves to work into a routine for first thing in the morning. Bridges work to engage your abs while also activating your hips, glutes, and lower back. Improvements in flexibility, strength, and tone are the inevitable result.
- Lie face up on a yoga mat (or the floor, if you prefer). Hold your dumbbells over your chest with your arms extended and your palms in.
- Pressing into your heels for leverage, lift your hips toward the ceiling until you’re in the bridge position.
- Lower the dumbbells out to either side toward the floor. Repeat for five reps. Lower your hips back to starting position.
- Continue until you’ve completed the sequence five times.
Once you’ve worked your way through all of the above exercises, rest for one minute. Then repeat the circuit one more time. That’s it!
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Carole Klein is the manager of social media and content for Unique Fitness Concepts located at their headquarters in Vernon Hills, IL. She has a B.S. in exercise physiology and is a fitness industry expert with more than 20 years of experience as a competitor and personal trainer.