As I’ve noted several times, if you want a lean, fit body—with increased muscle mass, more strength, and less body fat—you need to follow a basic checklist. For starters, you absolutely need to eat at a calorie deficit with a healthy diet. Consider it a bonus that doing so isn’t just great for your waistline. One new study just published in the journal Circulation found that pairing exercise and cutting 200 calories from your daily diet (which is the equivalent of roughly three eggs, a single glass of whole milk, or nearly one glazed doughnut) will drastically improve your heart and vascular health.
Now, if you have any questions on how to eat a better diet for reaching your goals, I’d like to direct your attention here. (Spoiler alert: You’ll need plenty of protein and vegetables.) That said, as it pertains to the exercise portion of your lean-body efforts, your checklist includes both strength training and cardio exercises, plenty of “non-exercise” moving around (such as getting in plenty of walks), and you need to get good sleep.
If I had to rank the most important of those, however, it’s strength training. After all, building and maintaining your muscle while burning lots of fat is the single most important aspect of getting in shape.
With strength training, one of the biggest fitness myths out there is that in order to get results, you need to train for at least an hour. For many people—including many of my clients—doing hour-long workouts seems daunting, especially if they live a busy lifestyle and don’t have much time to focus on their fitness. However, you can still get in great shape with workouts in half that time or less—you just have to be smart about it. (In fact, one new study found that you can get fit training just once-per-week, and for a remarkably little amount of time.)
Don’t have much time? Then here’s a workout you can do in 10 minutes with only a set of dumbbells. (Trust me, it works.) Set a timer for 10 minutes and perform each exercise back to back with no rest. Get in as many rounds of the following movements as you can in the time allotted—and keep going if you’re feeling it. And if you want a lean body? Remember: Pair this workout with the right diet (at a calorie deficit), get in good sleep, and never stop moving around. And for more great exercise advice, don’t miss The One Major Side Effect of Walking Every Day, According to Science.
Start by standing tall and holding a dumbbell close to your chest. Keeping your core tight, push your hips back and squat down until your hips are parallel to the ground. Drive through the heels and hips to stand back up, flexing your quads and glutes to finish. And for more amazing workout advice, don’t miss The Secret Exercise Tricks for a Better Body After 40, Say Experts.
In a standing position, hold two dumbbells up next to your shoulders. Your palms should be facing you. Keeping your core tight and glutes squeezed, rotate the dumbbells out and press the dumbbells up at the same time, flexing your shoulders and triceps at the top. Lower the weight under control before performing another rep. Complete 10 reps before moving onto the next set.
With your feet shoulder width apart, push your hips back and bend your torso so you’re bent forward at least 45 degrees. Tighten your core, and row both dumbbells towards your hips, squeezing your lats at the end. Straighten your arms fully before performing another rep.
Holding a pair of dumbbells, get into a split stance with one foot forward and one foot back. Lower yourself under control until your back knee touches the ground, then push yourself up using the heel of the front foot. Perform all reps on one side before switching over to the other.
Stack your legs and get into a side plank position. Begin by keeping your core tight and glutes squeezed, reach across your body with the top hand, stretching your shoulder blade. Pull your elbow back to starting position, squeezing your upper back when you finish. And for more exercise news, make sure you’re aware of The #1 Sign You Don’t Exercise Enough, Says Science.