A workout you’re doing now can be made better, says fitness coach and author Alwyn Cosgrove. And all you need is an extra five minutes. Simply choose one of the bonus muscle builders that follow, and tack it on to the end of your current routine. “It won’t take long, and it’ll yield great dividends, allowing you to customise your training to achieve almost any goal,” he says. “Whether you want to build bigger arms, sculpt a rock-solid core, or eliminate back pain, it’s just five minutes away.” Start today and you’ll instantly improve your workout. Your body will soon follow.
BUILD SLEEVE-BUSTING ARMS
You can accomplish a lot in five minutes, and this arm-building routine is proof. To do this workout, simply pick any two exercises that target your arms: One for your biceps and another for your triceps. For example, you might choose the EZ-curl-bar curl (biceps) and the dip (triceps). For either, select the heaviest weight that allows you to complete eight to 10 repetitions, and then alternate between the exercises, doing sets of five or six repetitions without resting. It’s not uncommon to do four or five sets of each. And this means you’ll be logging a total of eight to 10 sets of challenging arm work in just five minutes.
PERFECT YOUR POSTURE
Sitting hunched over a keyboard for 10 hours a day trains your muscles and connective tissues to adapt to that position, adding a hunch to your posture. But you can unravel your slump with an exercise called the prone cobra, which helps counteract the damage of your daily grind.
How to do it: Lie facedown on the floor rest your arms at your sides, palms down. Contract the muscles in your glutes and lower back to raise your upper torso and legs off the floor. At the same time, rotate your arms outward until your thumbs point towards the ceiling. Hold this position for 60 seconds, rest for 60 seconds, then repeat two more times, for a total of three sets.
BANISH BACK PAIN
“Lower-back problems often stem from tight gluteal muscles,” says personal trainer Nate Green. His solution: A foam roll (from $20 at
Optimum Performance, 38 Carpenter Road Level 3). “Your muscle tissue is like a rubber band. If it has a bunch of knots in it, you won’t be able to stretch it very far,” says Green. By using a foam roll to alleviate these knots, you’ll make your muscles more pliable – and quickly relieve back pain.
How to do it: Sit on a foam roll on the floor, with your feet up and your hands on the floor for balance. Now slowly roll your butt over
it, stopping on the tenderest spots (these are knots) for 20 to 30 seconds or until the pain subsides.
BENCH MORE, SAVE YOUR SHOULDERS
“One of the keys to both a bigger bench press and better shoulder health is the ability to stabilise your shoulder blades,” says personal trainer Bill Hartman. The reason: When you’re able to squeeze your shoulder blades down and together – and hold them that way while you bench-press – you create a more stable surface from which to push the bar. This allows you to lift heavier weights while reducing the stress on your shoulder joints. Do the two exercises that follow in the order shown. Hold each movement for 10 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat until you can’t maintain a 10-second hold. As you improve, increase your hold time.
HANGING SCAPULAR RETRACTION
How to do it: Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands just beyond shoulder-width apart, and hang at arm’s length. Without bending your elbows, squeeze your shoulder blades down and together. (Your body will rise slightly.) Hold, then rest by relaxing your muscles without letting go of the bar.
How to do it: Grab the bars of a dip station and lift your body until your arms are completely straight (shown above). Without bending your elbows, press your shoulders down as you push your torso up. Hold, then relax your muscles, which will cause your torso to lower relative to your shoulders – as if you were shrugging them.
PUMP UP YOUR PECS
This workout is designed to trigger a growth spurt by maintaining tension on your chest muscles for a full five minutes. Make sure to use a timer – you’ll need to know when to stop.
How to do it: Set an incline bench to a 30-degree angle and grab a pair of dumbbells, choosing the heaviest weights that allow you to complete 10 repetitions of the dumbbell incline fly (described below). You’ll use this weight for both exercises 1 and 2. Do the moves in the order shown, following the step-by-step instructions for each.
Exercise 1: Dumbbell Incline Fly
Hold the weights above your chest, with your arms slightly bent. Without changing the bend in your elbows, lower the weights out to your sides. Reverse the motion to return to the start.
● Do one set of eight reps.
● Don’t release the weights; hold them straight above your chest, and rest for 15 seconds in that position.
● Do as many more repetitions as you can.
● Rest for 15 seconds, then move on to exercise 2.
Exercise 2: Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
Hold the weights above your chest with your arms straight. Bend your elbows to lower the weights to the sides of your chest. Pause,
then push the weights up.
● Do as many repetitions as you can.
● Rest for 15 seconds with the weights held above you.
● Do as many more repetitions as you can.
● Rest for 15 seconds, then set the weights down and move on to exercise 3.
Exercise 3: Wide-grip Push-up
Get into push-up position, but with your hands placed about twice shoulder-width apart.
● Do as many push-ups as you can.
● Rest for 15 seconds and repeat until your 5 minutes are up.
THE 5-MINUTE SIX-PACK
If you do only crunches, you’re short-changing your abs. Why? Because in addition to flexing your trunk – as you do in a crunch – your core muscles also allow you to fl ex your hips, rotate your body, and stabilise your spine. So for the best results, you need to target each of these functions. For the full workout, read the rest of this article.