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The 1-Minute Mommy Workout for Upper Body Toning

By Patrick Drew, updated November, 2013
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I get it — you have a new child — and have absolutely NO time left in the day! I feel for you — with two children in our house, we have the same problems! Between the lack of sleep at night, the diaper changes, the food routines, parent groups, doctor appointments, etc. there is like no time at all to fit in a workout.

So I designed the 1-minute Mommy workout for the upper body. I will also be posting the 1-minute Mommy workout for the lower body soon. Also please note that when we say Mommy — it could also be Daddy!

Do you want to lose those flabby under arms? Do you want to tone up your core musculature and abdominal muscles? Tone and boost your pectoral muscles for bigger and firmer breast muscles? All this in 1-min a day? Here is how…

The 10-20-30 System is not rocket science — but it works! The concept is to take 3 upper body-toning exercises and blast them out in 1 minute flat!

If you are currently not doing any exercise routines — or only sporadically — and have no time at all to get to the gym or go for a run — then this will help you in 1 minute a day to tone your upper body! In 30 days you will see and feel the results! Of course — if you repeated this exercise 2 or 3 or more times a day… the results will come faster — and eventually will get more pronounced.

The 10-20-30 system is well known and can be used for many different things — from PowerPoint presentations to interval training… in this case we will use it for 3 exercises focusing on toning the muscular groups of the upper body.

We will focus on push-ups, sit-ups, and triceps dips.

The Individual Techniques…

Pushups

Pushups are at the heart of any upper body-training regime. They target a large number of muscle groups imperative to toning the upper body and looking good, including the triceps, brachialis, shoulder muscles, pectoralis major and minor and also firm up the abdominals and glutes.

Balance your weight on your toes and palms, with your hands a comfortable distance apart, probably just beyond shoulder-width. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abdominals, and keep them that way for the duration of the exercise. Slowly lower yourself to the floor, pause, and push yourself back up. Typically two seconds to lower and 4 to rise is the best — but for the 10-20-30 system just do one full rep per second.

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If you want to make things a bit more difficult you can try a few different options… (and maybe a child). Three-point pushup (place one foot on top of the other to make the exercise a little more challenging); decline pushup (set your feet on a bench or chair to strengthen your shoulders); and triceps pushup (place your hands close together, directly under your shoulders, and keep your elbows tucked close to your sides as you lower your body — an adjustment that shifts the work from your chest to your arms). If you really want to work your triceps consider placing your hands on the floor underneath you — directly under your chest — but as we will target triceps later — just do normal ones.

Typically the narrower the distance between your hands — the more the triceps are working and the further apart the distance between your hands, then the more your pectoral (chest) muscles are working.

In the beginning using this system keep your hands just outside the width of your shoulders — and as your progress then consider increasing the difficulty of the exercises. One example would be to have a few books underneath your hands, thus making you have to lower yourself a bit more than otherwise — with increased results.

Typically the narrower the distance between your hands — the more the triceps are working and the further apart the distance between your hands, then the more your pectoral (chest) muscles are working.

Abdominal Muscles

A regular weight training and exercise routine doesn't have to involve going to the gym or owning equipment. You can build muscle and get your heart pumping anywhere using your own body weight. Sit-ups help tone and develop lean and strong muscles. Sit-ups work your core and lower back muscles. With regular practice, this exercise will help you maintain overall stamina, balance and health.

Sit-ups help define abdominal muscles. While aerobic exercise burns tummy fat, sit-ups assist in strengthening and toning underlying core muscles. Core muscles are engaged while helping to support and stabilize the body.

Following a regular routine of sit-ups will keep your core toned and strengthened. A strong core will help you carry out other activities with more ease, such as lifting a box, playing tennis, playing with your kids, walking, running, or dancing.

Following a regular routine of sit-ups also assists in sustaining overall health. For example, toned abdominal muscles help with digestion and posture, which helps to keep things such as oxygen and blood flowing better throughout the body.

Weak core muscles also make you vulnerable to muscle injury and lower back pain. A frail upper body also leads to an increased susceptibility to injury and illness. Because muscle mass tends to diminish as people age, body fat also will increase without regular overall strength building.

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A regular routine of sit-ups can create a shapely and finely sculpted physique, flatten the abdominal area and give you the much-desired six-pack look.

Sit-ups help define abdominal muscles. While aerobic exercise burns tummy fat, sit-ups assist in strengthening and toning underlying core muscles. Core muscles are engaged while helping to support and stabilize the body.

Sit-ups

The exercise begins with lying with the back on the floor, typically with the knees bent in an attempt to reduce stress on the back muscles and spine, and then elevating both the upper and lower spine from the floor until everything superior to the buttocks is not touching the ground.

Proper starting form is lying face up on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. The movement begins by curling the shoulders towards the pelvis, with hands gently placed behind or below the ears. Try to keep your eyes on the ceiling even when you curl forward.

Avoid placing the hands behind the head itself as using them to exert force on the neck can cause injury. NB: Do not jerk the head forward with your hands.

Contract your abdominals and come up to an angle of no more than 90 degrees - and exhale as you sit-up. (Usually just come up as far as you can — typically your knees) The difference between crunches and sit-ups is one of degrees. When doing crunches you will typically only come up to about 30 degrees, focusing on contracting the abdominal muscles.

With sit-ups you continue to lift yourself up towards your knees — thus also using your core muscles, namely the rectus abdominis and the tensor fascilae latae. The rectus abdominis is the wall of abdominal muscle that connects to the lower rib cage and to the hips. When built up so that it bulges against its crossing tendons, it creates the six-pack effect. Its purpose is to tilt the rib cage and the pelvis toward each other. Like all abdominal exercises, the sit-up should be performed with the back at least slightly rounded at all times to protect the spine. This contraction works the rectus abdominis.

This is where the sit-up begins to differentiate itself from the crunch. The tensor fasciae latae attaches high up on the hips and to the upper front of the femur. Their function is to bend the body at the hips. Usually this is to lift the thigh, toward the torso, but in the case of sit-ups, it's to lift the body toward the thighs. Proportionately, they are very weak compared to their antagonist muscles, the gluteus maximums, which are some of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. This is one good reason to work them with sit-ups.

Triceps Dips

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To sculpt bigger, stronger biceps and triceps, it helps to arm yourself with a bit of knowledge about your arm muscles and how they work. Your upper arms are divided into three main muscle groups.

Firstly, we have the biceps, which run along the front of the arm, from your elbow to your shoulder joint. The main function of the biceps is to bend the elbow.

Secondly, we have the triceps, which also run from the elbow to the shoulder, but their main role is to straighten the elbow. The triceps are a larger muscle group than the biceps, which means they have more potential to grow.

Remember to try to keep your elbows as close as possible throughout the exercise.

The third group is the brachialis, an upper arm muscle that runs under the biceps. It's really only visible when looking at the arms from the side, but will make your arms appear much larger when viewed this way. Although most people focus on biceps training, if you want toned arms then you need to work your triceps as well.

Sit in a chair and place your hands, palms down, on the seat. Keeping your arms straight and supporting the weight of your body, move your bum forward and off the chair just a bit.

Slowly lower your body down toward the floor. Your elbows should be bent behind you horizontally. Press back up until your arms are almost straight, and then repeat the up-and-down motion.

Remember to try to keep your elbows as close as possible throughout the exercise.

Try to start off with straight legs to give you the most resistance. If you cannot do 30 then try with bent legs. For increased resistance place your feet on an object at the same height as your arms.

The 10-20-30 System for upper body toning

The 10-20-30 System for upper body toning is very simple and equally effective.

Just do 10 push-ups, immediately followed by 20 sit-ups, which in turn are immediately followed by 30 triceps dips.

USE A CHAIR! For push-ups — put your feet on the chair, and for sit-ups the same. For the triceps dips place your hands on the edge of the chair.

FOCUS on your body and feel the muscles working. Make sure that you are doing the techniques correctly and your body position is correct. When doing the pushups make sure you lower yourself all the way down and raise your self all the way up, while your body is firm and straight as a plank. Feel the pectorals working. For the sit-ups feel the abdominals working. Make sure you are coming up as far as you can as you exhale. For the triceps dips, make sure your elbows are close together and that your legs are straight out in front of you (if you can). Feel the triceps working.

The very first time you try this maybe do it slowly and take your time to learn to do the exercises correctly. Then speed it up! You should do all three exercises in 1 minute — including moving around time!

FOCUS on your body and feel the muscles working. Make sure that you are doing the techniques correctly and your body position is correct.

FUN

Remember to have fun with it! If you are doing this at home — put on some music that really inspires you as loud as you like it! Some people really like Rocky's "Eye of the Tiger" as max volume — it is all personal. Crank it up and have fun!

After you do the first 1-minute exercise you will feel your muscles burning slightly and you will be out of breath. Rest for one minute… and then see how you feel about doing another one.

I typically recommend doing this in the morning before going to work. You will wake up really well… and as you are going to have a shower in any case… it is OK to get a bit sweaty!

To make this exercise even more fun — you can consider doing it WITH your child! For the push-ups, place your child underneath you and deliver a kiss each time you come down. For the sit-ups you child can be sitting on your pelvis. For the dips. depending on how comfortable you are with the child's balance you could place them on you pelvis, leaning against your upper thighs.

More on training WITH your child in other articles here.

The 10-20-30 System for upper body toning is very simple and equally effective.
Just do 10 push-ups, immediately followed by 20 sit-ups, which in turn are immediately followed by 30 triceps dips.

Caveat

As with all body exercises with the goal of losing weight or toning the body for a leaner more muscular look — your diet is of paramount importance! If you are eating unhealthy fast food every day then there is no way you will ever look lean and mean. If you want a healthy body then you need to change your diet to a healthy one!

Losing weight is very simple — if not easy. You need to use more calories each day then you ingest. One simple way of getting there is a nutritional plan and some cardiovascular exercises. Done together the results will be great.

Done on it's own — the 1 minute 10-20-30 System for upper body toning will help, and you will see and feel results. For increased results — repeat often!

Again as always - No advice that is given should over-ride or replace the advice of a physician. If you have any conditions, illnesses, concerns, etc. please do check with your doctor first.

Enjoy!



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