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No time? No equipment? No excuses. Our experts kick your training into overdrive with customized 30-minute workouts for every harried athlete.

Ryan Brandt

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Strength and Cardio

They say you can’t cheat on training, but this intense workout—from Vancouver-based personal trainer Shaun Karp, who’s spent more than a decade building fitness programs for pros like NHL veteran Petr Nedved and 21-year-old snowboard sensation Simon Chamberlain—qualifies as a shortcut. All time-strapped athletes will benefit from this full-body workout, which Karp devised for maximum strength and cardio payoff with minimum equipment (little more than a pair of dumbbells and a Swiss ball), so you can get real exercise even when you can’t leave the house.

Begin with five minutes of cardio—jogging in place, doing step-ups on a chair, or jumping rope—to get your heart rate to 60 to 80 percent of your maximum range. Then complete two sets of the following exercises in succession, transitioning without rest between each exercise into a 30-second cardio interval (your exertion level for these should be high). Use a weight that is challenging but doesn’t compromise form. If you can complete the cycle in less than 30 minutes, add 15 or 30 seconds to each cardio interval.

1. Alternate Lunges: Stand with dumbbells at sides. Step into a full lunge, step back, and repeat, alternating legs. Don’t let your front knee go beyond your toes. 15 reps per leg

2. Hamstring Dead Lifts: Stand with dumbbells at sides. Keep your back straight while hinging at the waist until your upper body is parallel with the floor. Return to starting position. 10 reps

3. Two-Arm Rows: With knees slightly bent and back angled at 70 degrees, hold dumbbells extended toward floor and pull them up to hips. 10 reps

4. Swiss-Ball Press: Lying back side down on a Swiss ball, with knees bent 90 degrees and dumbbells at chest, extend arms vertically in a bench press. 8 reps

5. Bent-Over Lateral Raises: Start in the same position as two-arm rows, but bend elbows so dumbbells are in front of your knees. Raise arms to the sides, away from your body, maintaining bent elbows and straight back throughout. 15 reps

6. Ball Roll-Outs: Kneel with your hands on a Swiss ball in front of you. Slowly roll out onto the ball until your body is a straight plank, then return to starting position. Keep butt in and torso straight. 8 reps

7. Hip Lifts: Lie on your back on the floor, with arms at sides and legs pointing straight up in the air. Push your hips and legs up two inches off the ground with your lower abs. 20 reps

Muscle Balance and Flexibility


There’s a reason you feel tweaked after work, and it’s not your boss. The problem with our daily grind is that it uses all of the same movements (sitting, reaching forward), leaving the opposing muscles unused and your body out of whack. To reverse these daily muscle imbalances, Karp created this regimen for you to do behind a closed office door (we won’t tell) using just an exercise band, yoga mat, and Swiss ball. It’s intentionally low-intensity, so you can still make that 1 p.m. meeting without taking a shower.

1. Ball Squats: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms extended in front for balance, and a Swiss ball pressed between your lower back and a wall. Roll ball down the wall by bending knees to 90 degrees in a squat position. 15 reps, 3 sets

2. Hamstring Ball Tucks: Lie on the mat face up, with calves resting on a Swiss ball, in a rigid reverse-plank position so that your hips are lifted off the floor. Roll the ball as far as possible toward your butt by bending your knees. 20 reps, 3 sets

3. Exercise-Band Rows: Stand with arms extended, holding on to the ends of an exercise band closed in a door. Pull your hands back to your sides. Maintain a straight back throughout. 12 reps, 3 sets

4. Ball Push-ups: With your legs resting on a Swiss ball and hands on the floor, complete a push-up. 12 reps, 2 sets

5. Arm Board Walks: Lie face up on a Swiss ball, with arms extended out to sides and knees bent at 90 degrees. Shuffle feet to the right so that the ball rolls and your weight shifts farther and farther onto your straight left arm. Continue until you feel unbalanced (probably when the ball is near your elbow), then slowly walk your feet back to the starting position. 6 reps per side, 2 sets

6. Alternate Swiss-Ball Crunches: With a Swiss ball supporting your lower back and your hands behind your head, rotate trunk while completing a crunch to 45 degrees. 15 reps per side, 1 set

7. Starfish and Hamstring Stretch: Starfish (illustrated): Drape yourself face up over a Swiss ball. 45 seconds, 2 sets. Hamstring: With foot on desk, stretch your hamstring. 45 seconds per side, 2 sets

Power and Agility


Whether you’re a mogul fiend or an NFL hopeful, you need quickness, and for that there’s no better coach than Neal Pire, director of the Fair Lawn, New Jersey–based Parisi Speed School. Pire works on improving speed for clients like Fabian Washington, who clocked the fastest 40-yard time (4.25 seconds) at the 2005 NFL Combine and was then drafted in the first round. For this workout Pire focused on increasing the speed that comes in the form of agility and power. On a stretch of turf or grass, complete three circuits of the Step 1 exercises (1-7) in succession, concentrating on form; then follow with two fast, explosive cycles of the five Step 2 exercises (8-12).

1. Forward Skips: In an exaggerated skipping motion, drive your right knee up to 90 degrees while pumping your left arm up and your right arm back. Alternate sides. 20 yards

2. Prisoner Squats: Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart and fingers interlocked behind your head. Squat to 90 degrees. 10 reps

3. Lateral Shuffle: Shuffle sideways with one foot always in contact with the ground and your entire body perpendicular to the direction of travel. 20 yards each direction

4. Alternating Lateral Lunges: Lunge wide to the left and crouch low with your left hip, then bring left foot back to starting position and lunge right. 10 reps

5. Carioca: Move laterally as quickly as possible, crossing and uncrossing your legs by placing one foot in front of, and then behind, the other. 20 yards each direction

6. Gate Swings: Start with feet less than shoulder width apart. Lower into a half squat and then hop, flaring both feet out to the sides, then bring them back together. 10 reps

7. Backward Cycle Run: In an exaggerated backward run, bring your heel to your butt and then fire the leg back as you jump off your opposite foot. 20 yards

8. Seated Hip Thrusts: Sit with your legs extended and hands next to hips, fingers pointed toward feet. Push your hips up so that you’re in a reverse push-up position. 10 reps

9. Scissor Jumps: Start in a split squat position with your right leg and left arm back and your left leg and right arm forward. Jump while switching the arm/leg pairs. 5 reps

10. Tuck Jumps: Bend into a quarter squat with arms back, then immediately jump up, simultaneously swinging your arms forward and popping knees to your chest. 5 reps

11. Standing Broad Jumps. Start like you’re doing a tuck jump, but jump forward while swinging your arms for momentum. Land in a quarter squat and repeat. 5 reps

12. Speed Skaters: Standing on your right foot with your left leg behind you, bend your right knee into a quarter squat and jump to the left. Repeat on opposite side. 5 reps

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