The TV workout

Forget the gym’slip in a workout during your favourite half-hour TV show. Here’s how

The TV workout

Source: Web exclusive: December 2009

Pretty sure you have no time to squeeze in a workout at the end of the day? Well, if you’ve got time to learn about what Barney and the gang are up to on How I Met Your Mother, then you can fit in exercise. ‘If everyone did half an hour of daily exercise, nobody would need to spend hours at the gym,’ says Libby Norris, a Toronto-based personal trainer.

So we spoke with a group of experts’Norris; Sharon Mann, the Vancouver-based host of In Shape with Sharon Mann; Krista Popowych, the 2010 Olympic Oval’s executive director in Vancouver; and Ivy Lim, a Toronto-based personal trainer’to craft the perfect 30-minute workout. Grab your cross-trainers to start with this workout, which mixes strength training and cardio, all within a half-hour TV show.

How to get started

While weights are not a necessity, they do help once you advance yourself in your workout. So you might want to invest in a set of 2- to 5-pound dumbbells, an elastic body band and an inflatable fitness ball to fully stock your home gym. Rather save your dough? Then pull out two 28 oz. cans of tomatoes from the pantry or even fill two milk jugs with water to give yourself some resistance during your workout.

First show segment: Lower-body strength training

If you’re an exercise ingénue, try repeating each exercise 15 to 20 times, or as many as you’re able, aiming to increase reps in future sessions. If you’re a little advanced, try two sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

Starting with feet shoulder-width apart, take a large step forward, ensuring your front knee is no farther forward than your toes. Slowly lower yourself down into a lunge position until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold and come back up so your legs are in the starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times and then switch to the other leg.

The switch up! Hold a dumbbell in each hand as you do your lunges, or slow your lunges down. (The slower you go, the harder it gets.)

You can do this with a chair or without. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, slowly lower your buttocks as if you’re about to sit in a chair, keeping your torso upright and more weight in your heels. (If you’re using a chair, don’t actually sit down in it’merely hover an inch or so above the seat.) Hold momentarily and then slowly stand back up. Repeat 15 to 20 times.

The switch up! Lean your lower back against a fitness ball held against a wall. Slowly lower into a squat, keeping the ball held between your body and the wall, and hold for as long as you can. Or try sumo squats’same as regular squats, only your feet are slightly wider apart and toes are pointed outward.

Calf raises
Standing on a set of stairs or a step, stand with only the balls of your feet on the stair/step, heels hanging over the edge. Slowly lower your heels down off the step until you feel a stretch in your calves. Then lift the heels back to the starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.

The switch up! Lower and raise only one foot at a time, keeping weight off the non-working foot.

First commercial break: Cardio burst

Pick one of these activities to do for the entire commercial break if you can. (If you can’t, take a mini-breather and resume when you can.)

‘ Running up and down your stairs
‘ Skipping with a rope (real or imaginary)
‘ Jogging on the spot
‘ Jumping jacks

Second show segment to second commercial break: Upper-body strength training

Standing slightly more than an arm’s length away from a wall, place palms against the wall at shoulder height, so you’re on a slight lean, keeping your body as straight as a board. Bend your elbows to lower your upper body until your nose is to the wall. Push back up slowly to the starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.

The switch up! Try these on the floor, either with your knees down or, if you can, knees up so you’re pushing up your entire body weight.

Biceps curls
Take your weights/cans and, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold hands by your sides, palms facing in front of you. Slowly curl your arms up, bending at the elbows but keeping elbows held next to your body, until your hands are up at shoulder height. Slowly curl back down to starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.

The switch up! Increase the weight you’re curling.

Triceps dips
Sit on the edge of a firm chair (not the couch) or coffee table. Place your hands on the seat directly next to your hips, fingers over the edge and facing forward, and then shift your buttocks so they’re off the seat. Lower your body down, bending only the elbows, and then press back up. Keep your elbows close to your body so they only bend backward, not out.

The switch up! Lie on your back with dumbbells in your hands, palms facing outward, knuckles facing you, hands straight in the air at a 45-degree angle to the side. Slowly lower your hands toward each other and your face, again making sure your elbows stay in place, until your arms are at a 45-degree position. Hold and then slowly straighten to starting position.

Second commercial break: Cardio burst

Select a cardio activity from the list to do during the commercials.

Final segment: Core and abs

Start by lying on your stomach on the floor (use a mat if you need it). Put your forearms on the floor below you, clasping your hands together so your forearms and hands make a triangle position. Lift up onto your knees and forearms, ensuring your body is straight like a plank, angled upward slightly from your knees to your arms, with elbows directly under shoulders, and hold in your abdominal muscles. Hold for 20- to 30-second bursts.

The switch up! Move to the next level by going onto your toes instead of your knees and holding for as long as you can.

Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on floor, hands held at your temples. Using your abdominals (don’t pull with your arms), pull up slightly, lifting your upper body up toward the ceiling (rather than to your knees). Hold and come back down to lying position slowly.

The switch up! Try full sit-ups. Making sure your toes are supported under something heavy and focusing on your abdominals, slowly curl your body all the way up to your knees, making sure to not use your arms to complete the action. Then slowly lower back down.

Final commercial break: Cardio burst

Select a cardio activity from the list to do during the commercials.

End credits/final joke: The cool-down

‘ Gentle stretching of your choice.

If you prefer to have more cardio in your routine than strength-training, just reverse the cardio/strength training breaks. For example, do your cardio activity from the opening credits to the first major commercial break, at which point you’d stop and do your lower body program for the duration of the commercials. Consider it another switch up!

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