“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot." - Michael Altshuler

When you only have thirty minutes to spend at the gym, you want to be efficient. But is it possible to get in a good workout in such a short time? Absolutely! The key is to choose your exercises wisely, meaning FOCUS ON EXERCISES THAT INVOLVE AS MANY MUSCLE GROUPS AS POSSIBLE. You may have heard of the terms "compound exercises" or "multi-joint exercises." Well, that's what I'm talking about here. Such exercises make you strong, firm, and improve your metabolism. They also get your heart rate up, giving you plenty of cardio benefits because of the simple fact that they involve so many muscle groups. Plus, the five compound exercises described below are all functional so you can stay active and independent in your life. The body is designed for movement, not sitting or lying down. Did you know that sitting down for prolonged periods of time is considered almost as bad for your health as smoking? We are all meant to stand, walk, run, balance, twist and turn, flex and extend, push and pull stuff, change levels as in lunging, jump and climb. Why not choose exercises that involve as many of those movements as possible? Avoid using strength-machines in which you have to strap yourself in and sit down, as they won't involve your core--a.k.a. abdominal muscles. Having a strong core is very important.

Do fifteen to twenty reps of each exercise one after the other. When you've completed all five, do all of them again two more times.


1. The Push-up. This guy has perfect form: His butt is neither sagging to the floor nor sticking up to the ceiling, and his neck is in a neutral position, meaning his chin isn't reaching for the floor. His spine is perfectly aligned. The push-up
strengthens your chest, arms, shoulders and core, while also getting your heart pumping.

2. The Row. This exercise involves your entire back as well as your bicep muscles. It will also use your core if you're doing standing TRX rows. You can do standing rows with a lat pull down bar or cables as well. Avoid the seated row machine. If you have to use one, don't use the thigh pad and instead engage your stomach muscles and maintain your spine neutral throughout the exercise.

3. The Squat to Overhead Press. You can do this exercise using a variety of equipment, including dumbbells, medicine balls, a barbell, or elastic bands designed for workouts. Grab the weight(s) and hold in front of your shoulders as you squat down. As you stand back up, press the weight(s) over your head. Squat back down again, the dumbbells or whatever you're using back in front of or on your shoulders. This exercise works your legs and butt muscles as well as your shoulders and core.

4. Jackknife Abs. Start by lying down on your back and extend your arms over your head. A traditional jackknife is done raising both your legs to the ceiling and you touching your toes at the top of each rep. You want to maintain the legs as straight as possible the entire time. Then you return to the starting position---lying back down supine on the floor, arms stretched out above your head, legs back on the floor. Imagine that your body is a jackknife closing and opening. If you want to, you can use one leg only and reach up with the opposite arm instead of doing both legs and both arms at the same time, i.e. lift right leg while touching with the left hand. Using just one arm and leg forces you to twist your body to reach the toe.

5. Wood Chops. The wood chop exercise is a phenomenal core exercise and uses lots of the diagonal fibers in your lats, glutes, and obliques. The exercise works both upper and lower body, while also burning lots of calories. I prefer to use cable machines at the gym when doing wood chops using as much as possible of my body, but you can use a dumbbells or a medicine ball if you prefer. It's a bit complicated to explain and visualize, which is why I recommend you look it up in a video online. Imagine chopping wood but instead of holding an axe, you hold the handle of a cable or just a weight in your hands over one of your shoulders. Then you move/pull the weight downward in a diagonal pattern until you reach knee-level on the other side of your body.. The bigger you make this exercise, the more you'll get out of it.

Do this five-exercise workout three times a week, eat a healthy diet, and you'll soon be in great shape!

Author's Bio: 

Julia Derek is a personal trainer with 20 years of experience. She currently works at Equinox Sports Club as a senior trainer and also does virtual training. When she doesn’t train clients or work out, she spends her time writing twisty thrillers. To find out more about Julia, go to www.JuliaDerek.com