Juggling between work and family is already an exercise, and many women do not have time for a full two-hour workout at the gym. This is why doing compound -- or full-body -- exercises can get you stronger and leaner while saving time, says the IDEA Fitness Journal. Compound exercises, which move more than one body part at a time, also work on your abdominal muscles without having you do a single crunch. Besides helping you breathe better during exercise, your abdominals keep your body stable and in balance when you move.
If you want stronger and toner legs, shoulders and abs, the squat press combines the squat and shoulder press to give you a quick and powerful workout. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart and hold a 15-pound dumbbell in each hand near your shoulders with your elbows close to your ribs. Inhale and squat as low as you can while keeping your chest facing forward. Exhale and stand up, pressing the dumbbells over your head at the same time. Your abdominals and legs should be helping you lift your body upward. Lower the weights to your shoulders and repeat the exercise for three sets of eight to 10 reps. You can also do this exercise with one dumbbell to make it more challenging.
Deadlifting uses your buttocks and legs to produce force while your abdominal muscles stabilize your spine and torso to prevent injury. This exercise teaches you how to lift a heavy weight off ground by using your lower body. Put a 30-pound kettlebell on the ground and stand facing it with your legs about should-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and bend forward at your waist to grab the kettlebell with both hands. Shift your weight to your heels slightly. Thrust your hips forward to bring your torso upright and to lift the weight off the ground. Exhale forcefully at the same time to brace your abs. Do not round your spine or lift with your arms. Inhale and bend forward at your waist to lower the kettlebell to the ground. You should feel your abs work to keep your spine in alignment. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps.
Medicine Ball Chops
Medicine ball chops work on all of abdominal muscles while working both your upper and lower body together. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart and hold a 6-pound medicine ball near your chest. Bring the ball over your right shoulder and turn your body slightly to your right. Exhale and swing the ball down toward your left hip, pivoting your left hip and leg at the same time to increase the rotation. Swing the ball back to the starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps per side.
Free weights and machines may get you stronger, but they tend to target muscle groups individually rather than training for movement, says Dr. Jason Karp, contributing writer for IDEA Fitness Journal. Nearly all body-weight exercises work multiple body parts together, including your abdominal muscles. These include lunges, pushups, pullups, ground crawling and burpees. You may not feel your abs burn as they do during situps, but they are constantly working to keep your body in alignment when you move. To maximize your workout time, do several body-weight compound exercises with very little rest in between. For example, perform five exercises for two to three sets of eight to 15 reps each and rest for one minute. Then repeat the workout again one to two more times. Do body-weight exercises three to four days a week for six to eight weeks to see and feel significant results.
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Body Weight Training Program
- Athletic Development; Vern Gambetta
- Functional Movement Systems: Maintain the Squat -- Train the Deadlift
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.