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oblique rotation on an exercise ball

Danny King, a master trainer at Life Time,  created three mini workouts — one upper body, one lower body, and one core (below) — each designed to take no more than 10 minutes. They can be done alone, stacked, or performed separately at different times on a given day. Doing one (or more) of these mini workouts might even inspire you to try another fitness activity, such as walking, cycling, or yoga.

They’re also great options for active recovery. If your legs are tired from a long run the day before, for instance, the upper-body or core routine might feel great.

The Core Workout

  • Complete at least two and as many as four rounds, resting as necessary between rounds.
  • If you can easily complete 15 reps of a dumbbell exercise, King recommends increasing the weight.

Dead Bug

This exercise strengthens your deep core muscles. Additionally, maintaining a flat back throughout the exercise can help strengthen neutral pelvic positioning. This is particularly helpful for people who default to anterior pelvic tilt (APT), in which the pelvis rotates forward and causes the spine to curve.

  • Lie flat on your back with knees bent and press your low back into the floor. Keeping your back flat, bring your knees directly over your hips and straighten your arms up toward the ceiling. You can place a folded blanket or towel under your head to help relax your neck and keep your ribs from thrusting.
  • Exhale to engage your core as you extend your opposite arm and leg.
  • Inhale as you return to the starting position.
  • Alternate sides for up to one minute, stopping if you start to feel your back arching.

Modification: Extend just your leg, or keep your knee bent as you tap your heel to the mat instead of fully extending your leg.

(For more on this move and four variations, see “BREAK IT DOWN: The Dead Bug.”)

Side Plank With Hip Dip

This exercise works your obliques, which are important core stabilization muscles.

  • Lie on your right side and press up into a side plank with your right elbow directly below that shoulder, legs straight, and your left (top) foot slightly in front of your right.
  • Drop your right hip toward the floor, keeping your hips and shoulders squared in front of you.
  • Lift your hip to return to the starting position.
  • Perform up to 20 repetitions on each side, as your form allows.

Modification: Set up your side plank on your knees instead of your feet.

(Refine your pose and find two more variations at “BREAK IT DOWN: The Side Plank.”)

Stability-Ball With Diagonal Crunch

This exercise gives you the traditional ab burn we associate with core training. The ball helps keep your low back supported and rotation incorporates the obliques.

  • Start seated on a stability ball, then walk your feet forward and lean back until your hips are slightly forward of the ball.
  • Hold your head in your hands and crunch up on an exhale, bringing your right shoulder toward your left hip. Think about your ribs gliding in toward your pelvis.
  • Perform up to 15 repetitions on each side, stopping at fatigue.

Modification: Adjust your hips lower on the ball to make the movement easier.

Feeling Great?

Try stacking with the 10-Minute Lower-Body Workout or the 10-Minute Upper-Body Workout from this workout or, try another fitness activity, such as taking a walk, biking, or yoga.

This was excerpted from “Three 10-Minute Workouts to Build a Full-Body Strength Routine” which was published in Experience Life magazine.

Photography by: Colin Simmons; Styling: Pam Brand; Model: Desyree Starr
Nicole Radziszewski

Nicole Radziszewski is a writer and personal trainer in River Forest, Ill. She blogs at

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