20-Minute Toning Workout

Gain core strength and trim your arms, abs, and legs in this all-over toning routine that only takes 20 minutes.

By Irene McCormick, M.S., C.S.C.S.


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20-Minute Workout
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    Make this the month you trim your tummy, strengthen your core, and gain confidence in your appearance.

    The plan: Complete these strength exercises two or three times a week (they'll take about 20 minutes). Warm up first with some moderate-paced cardio (walking in place, for instance) for five minutes. Do the number of repetitions specified for each given workout.

    The strategy: Combining exercises back to back is one of the best ways to maximize your time. "Because you're constantly moving, you keep your heart rate elevated and burn more calories," explains New York City trainer Lacey Stone, who masterminded our routine. As the month progresses, increase the number of times you do each exercise and the number of reps while decreasing the amount of rest time.

    What you'll need: A set of 3- to 5-pound (beginners) or 8- to 15-pound (advanced) dumbbells, a mat, and a sturdy chair.

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Lift 1: Standing Shoulder Press

    strong>Targets: shoulders, back, quads, glutes, and hamstrings

    Reps: 5-10

    Total time: 3 minutes

    Step A: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing forward, wrists straight. Keep abs tight and body weight in heels without allowing knees to move past toes.

    Step B: Stand up, pushing through heels as you extend arms, bringing weights together above head. Hold for 1 count.

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Exercise 2: Slight Lunge with Biceps Curl

    Targets: biceps, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core

    Reps: 5-10

    Total time: 3 minutes

    Step A: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding weights with arms at sides, palms facing forward. Step your right foot behind you, bending knee; keep left knee aligned over left ankle. Press your arms slightly behind you so that weights are held a few inches from your back.

    Step B: Curl weights toward shoulders, keeping elbows pressed into sides and palms turned out slightly. Return to start. Do the given reps, then complete the same combination with the other leg in back.

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Exercise 3: Modified Power Jump

    Targets: abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves

    Reps: 5

    Total time: 2 minutes

    Step A: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at sides. Squat down by slightly bending your knees.

    Step B: Perform a little jump as you rise up.

    Tip: This exercise is great for decreasing your risk of osteoporosis.

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Exercise 4: Wall Push-Ups

    Targets: shoulders, chest, and core

    Reps: 5-10

    Total time: 3 minutes

    Step A: Begin in a standing push-up position, hands placed against the wall, palms under shoulders. Legs should be extended with feet placed comfortably on the floor; keep abs tight and head in line with spine. (If you like, put a mat on the floor so your feet don't slip.)

    Step B: Lower chest toward the wall, flexing elbows and keeping abs engaged; press back to starting position.

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Exercise 5: Tricep Kickback

    Target: Triceps

    Reps: 5-10

    Total time: 2 minutes

    Step A: Sit on the edge of a firm, straight-back chair. Hold hand weights at 90 degrees, parallel to your thighs, next to your hips.

    Step B: Lean slightly forward from your hips while staying seated in the chair and extend the elbows back, straightening the elbow joint and contracting the tricep muscle on the back of the arm. Hold for 1 count and return to starting position.

    Tip: Sitting in a chair while doing this exercise helps you focus on isolating the triceps, which can be a tricky muscle to tone.

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Exercise 6: Bent-Knee Crunches

    Target: abs

    Reps: 10-15

    Total time: 3 minutes

    Step A: Lie face up on ground with legs extended at a 90-degree angle, hands behind head with elbows out to sides.

    Step B: Use your stomach, not your neck or arms, to rise up from the head and shoulders. Hold for 1 count and return to starting position.

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Exercise 7: Modified Plank

    Targets: shoulders, chest, and core

    Reps: 1

    Total time: 2 minutes

    Begin in a plank position, forearms on ground with elbows under shoulders and knees resting on the floor. Keep the abs tight, forming one long line from crown of head to knees. Hold here for 1-2 minutes, keeping abs engaged and hips neutral.

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Exercise 8: Standing Windmill

    Target: Abs and obliques

    Reps: 5-10

    Total time: 2 minutes

    Stand with feet just wider than shoulders, toes turned out slightly. Slowly bend torso to the right, bringing right arm toward ground and left arm toward sky. Hold for 1 count and return to start. Do the given reps, then switch sides.

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