The American Council on Exercise has officially declared the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 27th, Workout Wednesday in an effort to inspire people to get moving and to engage in physical activity not only that day, but all year long.
To launch this national initiative ACE is hosting a photo contest on Twitter and Instagram, the full rules of which can be viewed here. Using the hashtag #ACEWorkoutWed, share a photo of yourself participating in any type of fitness activity and you’ll be automatically entered to win prizes each week. The grand prize winner, who will be chosen on Workout Wednesday, November 27th, will receive an all-expenses paid trip for two to the ultra-luxury wellness and spa resort Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic!
To support this initiative and to help you stay active during the holiday season, every Wednesday during the month of November we’ll be sharing a free, time-efficient workout in our Fit Life blog that you can do at home or at the gym using little or no equipment!
This workout is designed to take only 15 minutes, yet it’ll work your entire body and train all of the foundational movements using a tried-and-true piece of equipment—dumbbells. After a short, five-minute warm-up of your choice, perform 10 repetitions of each exercise on both sides, with a 30- to 45-second transition between exercises. Select a weight that is challenging, yet does not compromise proper form.
How: Hold onto two lighter dumbbells as you balance on one foot and hinge forward into a tabletop position. With both elbows slightly bent, lift arms out to the side squeezing behind the shoulder blades. Lower the arms and then return to a standing position, ideally not touching the elevated foot all the way to the ground until all 10 repetitions are complete.
Why: This exercise is a great beginning to a workout because of its focus on balance, upper-back and postural strength, and hip stability and mobility.
Careful: Keep the spine extended during the hip hinge, similar to a Warrior 3 pose in yoga.
How: Begin by holding a medium-weight dumbbell in your right hand next to your right ear. Drop your hips down and back and, driving through your glutes, return to standing while thrusting the dumbbell into the air. Slowly return the dumbbell to your ear and repeat.
Why: Squats are a great lower-body exercise, and adding the one-arm press helps improve power and engages the core.
Careful: Press the dumbbell straight up and avoid leaning to compensate for the weight on one side.
How: Lie on a bench (or the floor), brace your core and press up one dumbbell at a time toward the ceiling.
Why: This is a great exercise for your chest, shoulders and triceps, and by only using one arm at a time your core also plays a major role.
Careful: Keep your core and glutes tight during this exercise to avoid arching the back.
How: Step forward with the right leg and bend both knees to 90 degrees. Hold the dumbbell in both hands and extend your arms in front of you; rotate to the right. Rotate the arms back to the center, pull the dumbbell back into your chest and return to standing.
Why: Adding the dumbbell rotation to your walking lunges not only adds additional resistance, but also improves hip strength and core stability.
Careful: Ensure the front knee stays aligned with the second toe during the lunge and rotation.
How: Find a bench on which to rest your inside hand and knee. Keep the spine extended, brace your core and row a heavier dumbbell up. Be sure to lead with the elbow, pausing when it reaches a 90-degree angle.
Why: Strengthening the muscles of your upper back is essential for good posture.
Careful: Keep the shoulders square and back flat to avoid using momentum to lift the weight.
How: Begin standing upright, holding a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand. Step to the side, keeping the lead foot pointing forward and the knee in alignment with the foot. Sink the hips down and back, while framing your knee with the dumbbells. Squeeze through the hips for stability, bring the straight leg in and return to standing.
Why: Lateral lunges target all of the muscles of the legs, but are especially beneficial for strengthening the gluteus medius and minimus—the muscles responsible for stabilizing the hip. Keeping these muscles strong can help prevent, or facilitate recovery from, lower-extremity injuries.
Careful: During the movement ensure the knee tracks over the foot (don’t let it buckle in or out) and the back stays flat, as you keep the chest up and open during the dumbbell reach.
How: Beginning in a seated or a standing position, hold both dumbbells at about ear level. Press one dumbbell up at a time, while bracing the core and hips.
Why: By alternating the presses, posture and core strength are also challenged in this staple dumbbell exercise.
Careful: Avoid arching of the back to push too much weight, and keep the shoulders down and away from the ears.
How: Begin in a straight and tight plank position with feet wide for support. Avoiding rotation, row one dumbbell up at a time, squeezing behind that shoulder blade.
Why: Planking is a gold-standard core exercise for enhancing spinal stabilization. By adding the rows, upper-back strength and a resistance to rotation are also necessary.
Careful: Avoid letting the hips sag (especially during the row) to prevent low-back pain and potential injury.
As these exercises become easier (which they will!), continue to increase the amount of weight used. After mastering this short and effective workout, lack of time should no longer be an excuse to keep you from achieving your fitness goals!