Life gets busy and it’s not always optimal to carve out an hour or more in the gym.  Staying fit with a busy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean working harder, but smarter.  By super setting your exercises, doing a HIIT routine or combining several muscle groups into one exercise can help you save time and still get in a full workout.  This exercise targets legs, glutes, shoulders, core, and cardio all in one simple move.

Set up for the Plie Squat by placing your feet double hip width apart and turn your toes to a 45-degree angle, with the dumbbell or plate above your head, keeping your chest lifted and shoulders open.  To increase difficulty, come onto the balls of your feet instead of having your feet flat on the ground.  As you squat, keep your abs tight, and be sure your shoulders stay above your hips, not leaning forward. Allow your knees to follow the line of your toes, if they cave in, that could lead to injury. Pause at the bottom as if you were sitting in a chair, keeping your core engaged.

Depending on if you are on the balls of your feet or have your heels on the floor, you will work different muscles.  If you choose to keep your heels on the floor, as you rise, drive through the heels, squeezing your glutes and quads once you are back to your starting position.  If you are up for a challenge and are on the balls of your feet, you will feel work in the calves and hamstrings as well.

This exercise targets multiple muscle groups in one simple move as well as provides a quick burst of cardio.  If the cardio is too much, instead of having the weight over your head, hold it at your chest.  Anytime your hands are above your heart, it will increase your heart rate.  Weight is optional for this exercise as well, however, try using 25 percent of your bodyweight and do five sets with 10-15 repetitions.

Next time you find yourself overwhelmed by a hectic schedule or limited equipment on vacation, try combining muscle groups to save time and complexity, and remember to work smarter, not harder.

By Leslie Sosa

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