Let’s face it, being a working mom is more than a full time job. Often you are starting your day very early and ending it super late with little down time in between. But you still want to have a little “you” time to exercise because not only does being in shape feel great, but it sets a good example for your kids about leading a healthy lifestyle.
So with a tight schedule one of the best options is to perform full body routines when you are at the gym to attack all of your muscles. The simplicity of a 3 day routine is that you can easily adjust it based on your schedule; if you are tired or too busy then you just workout the next day instead.
The routine is geared around getting you in and out of the gym within 60 to 90 minutes maximum. That gives you enough time to decompress a little bit and get a good workout in without taking up more than 4 hours a week in the gym, which is a good compromise to a busy schedule. Each day starts with cardio which provides a warm-up, fat burning, and a chance to get into a groove about working out. Using music is highly recommended. Weight workouts will involve dumbbells and machines. We are going for tone so the repetition ranges are a little higher. Try to only take 30-60 seconds rest between sets. Use a heavy enough weight to challenge yourself, but don’t sacrifice form. Repetitions should be slow and steady for both directions.
Each day starts with 30-40 minutes of cardio that involves a 5 minute warm-up, 20-30 minutes of exercise, followed by a 5 minute cool down. We have included a few options so feel free to vary the cardio aspect of the routine for variety. If your schedule allows more time then try to add more cardio. No matter which option you choose, attack it using your arms and legs.
- Treadmill - Start with a 5 minute warm-up followed by 20-30 minutes of either walking, jogging, or running (depending on your ability). If you are walking, make sure to increase the elevation of the treadmill every few minutes to increase the intensity. The idea is to get that heart rate up and burn some calories! Follow-up with a 5 minute cool down.
- Elliptical - Start with a 5 minute warm-up followed by 20-30 minutes of either fat burning or interval training programs (depending on your ability). Follow-up with a 5 minute cool down.
- Stair Climber - Start with a 5 minute warm-up followed by 20-30 minutes of either fat burning or interval training programs (depending on your ability). Follow-up with a 5 minute cool down.
- Machine Crunches – 3 sets of 30+ repetitions with a light weight. Preferably you have a crunch machine that raises your legs slightly to work both the upper and lower as well as adjusts to hit the sides. If so, for the first set it to the middle, the second set to the left, and the third to the right. Exhale hard on each rep and really squeeze the abs hard.
- Plank – This simple core movement is a great starter for many people. Assume a pushup position but instead of resting on your hands, place your elbows and forearms underneath you to support your weight. Hold this “plank” position with your body flat for at least a 30 count or longer to work your entire core. Do 2 to 3 sets.
- Dumbbell Lunges – 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions. Pick a light weight to start with. You will step backwards with your foot and then lower that knee to the ground before pushing back up. This is a fantastic and underused exercise to blast and shape your legs and rear.
- Lying Hamstring Curl Machine – 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions. Focus on squeezing the hamstrings at the peak of the curl.
- Standing Calf Machine Raises – 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions. Go slow to get a good stretch on the bottom and hold at the top for a 1-2 count.
- Machine Bench Press – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. For variety you can also use incline and decline press machines if available. These will help with the shapeliness of your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- Machine Rows – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. For variety you can also use machine pull-downs. This works your back muscles.
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. You can do these standing or seated. Slowly raise the dumbbells from your shoulders until they touch and then lower slowly to work your shoulders and triceps.
- Dumbbell Curls – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. These really help to shape the arms. I prefer doing them alternating and twisting your wrist as your curl to help with the shape of the muscle.
- Triceps Rope Pushdowns – 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Using a rope changes the angle a bit and helps work the longer part of the muscle with is a trouble spot for many women. Go slow and really squeeze and hold for a second on the extension.