We’d all love to have time for an hour workout on a regular basis, but just because you can’t squeeze more than 20 minutes doesn’t mean you can’t effectively work on strengthening and toning your body from the inside out. “I don’t believe in segmenting the body for workouts,” says Amy Jordan, founder and CEO of WundaBar Pilates. “Everything should work as one beautiful cohesive machine.” With that as well as time maximization in mind, we asked Jordan to show us a sequence, using dumbbells, to power from the core to sculpt your body head-to-toe at home.
Do these four moves as a circuit by following Jordan’s detailed directions below.
1. Tree hugger clock sweeps
Stand with shoulders over ankles over hips. Use a counter or chair back for balance support if you need it. Feet are positioned with heels touching and toes open like a slice of pie. Reach left leg forward, big toe grazing the floor (don’t lean torso back). Hold two 3 lb dumb bells at chest height as if you’re hugging a beach ball or tree trunk. Inhale, left big toe grazes the floor as you sweep your straight left leg around the clock from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock – but stop at 7 or 8 o’clock if you feel your low back shorten and tummy tip forward when you get all the way to 6. Exhale, big toe continues to graze the floor as you sweep around the clock from 6 (or 7 or 8 o’clock!) back to 12 o’clock.
Pro tip: Keep the pelvis still and your navel reaching up and back at a diagonal the entire time — it doesn’t move when your leg does.
Do 16 reps each side.
Bonus challenge: Finish at 12 o’clock and add 8 left leg raises — lift from the upper inner thigh not your toes — this will engage deep abdominal muscles and the right waistline.
2. Touchdown lunges
Stand with feet parallel and 4 to 6 inches apart. Really gauge if you’re standing in parallel – all 10 toes shining straight forward. I often see folks with toes pointing out who would swear that they’re parallel. Take one large step forward with your left leg, left foot will be flat and right heel will be lifted off the floor. Dumb bells at chest height in front of you. Exhale, lower into a lunge by softening both knees and allowing the left knee to reach a bit in front of the ankle and keep it aligned with your big toe and second toe. Hold at the bottom of lunge to wag your tailbone a bit to the right (levels your hips), check that your torso remained upright and didn’t tip forward like a long jump skier. While holding in the lunge position, inhale, melt your shoulder blades down like pulleys, to draw the dumb bells up to the sky. Softly bend your elbows if you feel your shoulders rising up. Exhale, return dumb bells to start. Inhale, think about your inner thighs like a pair of scissors closing from the top, narrow through the hips and lift through the core back to two straight legs. Avoid the temptation to push through your left heel, you’ll lose so much of the beautiful core work if you do.
Pro tip: As you hold the lunge low, think about your left inner thigh spiraling up to the sky while your right inner thigh spirals behind you. Nothing will visibly move, but you’ll feel your inner thighs, pelvic floor and low belly fire up!
Do 8 reps each side.
Bonus challenge: Do the sequence as described above — but balance on the balls of both feet — both the left heel and the right heel remain lifted through the entire range of motion (as pictured).
3. Side plank scoop
Sit on your left hip, place left hand in line with left shoulder and extend legs long with left foot in front of right on the floor – head, shoulders, hips and left heel are in a perfect line like a pencil. Actively lift out of your left wrist by narrowing your imaginary corset around the waist and drawing the back side of your left underarm forward. Inhale, right hand has dumb bell extended to the sky, actively reaching for length through every limb – top, bottom, side to side. Exhale, right hand sweeps towards floor as pelvis pivots to the floor, torso rotates towards the floor, and right arm reaches under the torso. Hips simultaneously reach up and back like a downward dog.
Pro tip: Keep length along the left waistline as you rotate to avoid collapsing or shortening the side body. Inhale, unwind the right arm, torso and pelvis to return to side plank. Re-commit to the organization in your original set up and repeat.
Do 8 reps each side.
Bonus challenge: Do the sequence as described above, but stack right foot on top of left. The smaller “base” for your feet creates crazy core and balance stability work.
4. One-legged bridges
Lay on your back with knees bent, both feet flat on the floor and outer thighs magnetized to keep legs closed. One 3 lb dumb bell in each hand with arms reaching straight to the sky. Exhale, roll the pelvis like a gear wheel towards your navel to peel your hips off the floor and slowly follow with the rest of the spine — lift with LENGTH — until you are in a bridge with no creases on the front of your hips, and length through the low back.
Pro tip: Ribs soften around your heart to activate deep core work. Flared ribs will take away from the core connection. Inhale, keeping the knees glued together, extend the right leg at a 45 degree angle, front of ankle is open. Hold in the single leg bridge; exhale, both arms open to the sides with a soft bend at elbows until hands hover over the floor. Inhale, arms bend to 90 degree angle with elbows hovering over the floor and arms sweep through back to start position straight to the sky. Exhale, slowly roll down starting from behind the heart and the pelvis follows. Lower down the spaces between your vertebrae rather than the bones themselves to really find length through your downward motion.
If this feels aggressive, do the same sequence but keep both feet flat on the floor. Do 4 reps each side.
Bonus challenge: Do 6 reps each side, but for the last 2 reps hover the standing heel 1 inch off the floor throughout the entire range of motion.
For those feeling inclined to take their workout outside the home, use promo code WUNDACHEATSHEET at any of WundaBar’s locations for a free class.