A '1 Minute Workout' that Works

Does a “1 Minute Workout” DVD sound like instant gratification gone crazy? Designed to play on “shuffle,” it packs infinite workout combos onto one disk—the perfect antidote to those workout vids that get boring after a few go-rounds. Read on to learn how you can make every minute count.

Who can argue the convenience of a workout DVD? It’s there when you need it, and in the comfort of your living room there’s no competition for space and no shame in pausing for a bathroom break. But there is an obvious drawback: After watching the DVD a few times, you practically know it by heart, and so do your muscles. And boredom is the enemy of a good fitness regimen. Enter 1 Minute Workout, which uses the shuffle feature of your DVD player to create a new, customized routine every time you press play.

“If you do the same choreography over and over, your body adapts to it so quickly," says the DVD's instructor, Minna Lessig, a former contributor to the CBS Early Show. "It's important to surprise your muscles."

Sorry, but the title 1 Minute Workout does not mean you can wrap up your exercise in 60 seconds. It actually refers to the length of each of the 127 workout segments in the DVD's database, designed by Phil and Michelle Dozois. After one of the three 3-minute warm-ups, you select whether you want to work your upper body, lower body, abs or total body and pick level one or two. Finally, you're asked how long you want to work out, and choices vary depending on level and body part: For a level-one upper-body workout, you can select 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 or 24 minutes; level-two ab workouts range from 2 to 20 minutes; and a level-two total body routine runs between 12 and 72 minutes. Your player will shuffle the prescribed number of exercises, and — voila! — you have a fresh routine and a quick workout.

The system can come up with so many different permutations that it's safe to say you won't do the same one twice. But it's not so random that you'll be jumping from bicep curl to bicycle crunch and back—the order of the types of exercises you do is predetermined. In any given level-two upper-body workout, for instance, the DVD will give you two chest exercises, two back exercises, two arm exercises and one total body exercise before repeating again. (Note: You should have two sets of weights available: one set of two to three pounds and one set of five to eight pounds.)

Say one day you have half an hour of workout time to squeeze in before dinner. After the warm-up, you can do a level-two 20-minute lower-body workout—side lunge with arm reach, squat with calf raise, leg circles, plie; squat, stationary lunge and leg lift, lying-down front leg kick, single-leg squat, squat with feet together, side-lying knee-to-heel tap, side squat and about 10 other exercises, followed by one of three 3-minute cool-downs. If you have just a few minutes, the 4-minute lower-body routine can be alternating reverse lunge, squat with feet together and kneeling leg abduction. If an exercise happens to repeat within one routine, you definitely won't mind, since the sets are so short. When the burn kicks in, it's such a relief to know you'll be doing something else in a minute. Moving quickly from exercise to exercise keeps your heart rate up as well.

On the days when you're really pressed for time, skip the process of choosing your workout and take the "fast track" — the DVD will automatically select three or four exercises from the total-body category. This isn't cheating, Lessig assures us. "The latest research found that if you accumulate a total of 30 minutes of exercise a day, even in shorter bursts of energy, you reap the same type of benefits for cardiovascular health and weight loss [as you would with 30 continuous minutes]," she says. "I'm a full-time mom with two daughters and my own business, so I do a few minutes here, a few minutes there."

Since the whole point of 1 Minute Workout is its flexible nature, Lessig shies away from recommending any particular regimen. It's all up to you to make it as effective as possible, and that might be bad news for slackers. But now that one DVD like this has been released, it's exciting to imagine what others will follow in today's in-demand, instant-gratification climate. Personal trainers, watch your backs!

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