A PLEASANT SPACE for your home gym is essential. You won't respect your workout or be inspired to exercise at all if the setting is a messy afterthought. And remember: Equipment stashed under the bed or in a closet tends to be forgotten. » SEEK GUIDANCE from pros. With your goals in mind, a trainer can help you figure out what gear you need. (See www.acefitness.org and www.nasm.org for trainer databases.) » TUNES GOOD, PHONE BAD: Crank the stereo or watch TV when exercising, but don't gab on the cell or readyou'll only sabotage intensity. » STRUCTURE RULES: Before you attack, you've got to have a sound strategy. Personal trainer Karen Merrill knows how to make home-gym time as productive as possible. Her weekday regimen, detailed below, takes a little over an hour a day to complete. You can do it with both the minimalist setup shown here and the primo fitness center laid out on pages 4041. Work through the cardio sessions on any machine. For the day's lifting exercises, complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps, starting with a light weight, and finish every session with five minutes of stretching.
Karen Merrill Workout
For a step-by-step guide to each exercise in Merrill's regimen, go to www.outsideonline.com/merrill
MONDAY » Cardio: 30 minutes, moderately hard
Strength: (1) flat bench press (vary grip width on each set); (2) incline bench press; (3) decline bench press (vary grip width on each set); (4) staggered-stance push-ups (place one hand on a thick dictionary or phone book and alternate hands on the book with each set); (5) bent-over one-arm dumbbell rows; (6) bent-over barbell rows; (7) upright dumbbell rows; (8) crunches; (9) crunches with heels on bench
TUESDAY » Strength: (1) bench step-ups/step-downs; (2) walking lunges with light dumbbells; (3) squats or leg press; (4) single-leg squats (tip of one shoe rests on a bench behind you; squat with other leg) or single-leg press; (5) leg curls (if no machine, position your upper body on a bench, facedown, knees on the floor, then clamp a dumbbell » between your shoes and curl it toward your glutes); (6) bridging (with legs straight, place heels up on a bench, back on the floor, then squeeze your butt and back off the ground, holding for five to ten seconds, then repeat)
WEDNESDAY » Cardio: ten minutes, moderate intensity, followed by five minutes of bench step-ups/step-downs; repeat in same order
Strength: (1) barbell curls (vary grip width on each set); (2) reverse-grip barbell curls; (3) hammer dumbbell curls; (4) triceps dumbbell kickbacks or cable push-downs; (5) triceps barbell extensions or triceps cable pulls; (6) bench dips; (7) reverse crunches (keep shoulders on the floor and curl knees to your chin); (8) bicycle crunches; (9) dumbbell, or cable, side crunches (while standing, hold a dumbbell or cable handle in one hand, then lean away and return upright)
THURSDAY » Cardio: five-minute warm-up, then 30-second sprint and 90-second recovery (moderate intensity); repeat 30/90 cycle for 25 minutes; five-minute cooldown
Strength: (1) seated toe raises (place a weighted barbell across thighs) or calf press; (2) single-leg toe raises (hold dumbbell or cable in one hand, then balance on same-side foot while extending up onto your toes)
FRIDAY » Cardio: five-minute warm-up, then 30 seconds increased resistance and 90 seconds original resistance; repeat 30/90 cycle for 20 minutes; five-minute cooldown.
Strength: (1) overhead barbell press; (2) alternating overhead dumbbell press; (3) lateral dumbbell or cable raises; (4) upright barbell rows; (5) front dumbbell raises; (6) bent-over dumbbell lateral raises; (7) bicycle crunches; (8) oblique knee lifts (sit on edge of bench, keeping knees together, then bring one knee toward opposite shoulder, alternating knees); (9) bent-leg pike crunches (curl your knees and shoulders toward each other simultaneously)