A Real 8-Minute Fitness Routine

Eight minutes in the morning -- that's all it takes to help launch you toward a fitter, trimmer lifestyle, according to fitness trainer Jorge Cruise, author of "8 Minutes in the Morning: A Simple Way to Start Your Day That Burns Fat and Sheds the Pounds."

While 30 minutes a day of any kind of physical activity is the most widely advocated prescription for getting active, strength training is an important key to weight management, Mr. Cruise suggests. He bases his successful weight-loss program on a firm foundation of brief morning strength-training sessions, plus healthful eating and -- when one feels ready for it -- fitness walking for the aerobic benefits.

"Americans are among the most overweight people in the world," says Mr. Cruise. "About 80 percent of Americans are overweight and 35 percent are clinically obese. People think fat itself is the problem, but that's just the symptom -- the source is the lack of lean muscle tissue."

Before beginning any exercise program, check with your doctor first. Once you've done that, start with muscle-toning exercises, he advises. Not only can they more quickly shape up your body, they'll also strengthen your bones, reduce your injury risk and increase your metabolism so you burn calories more quickly.

Eight minutes in the morning

Time is one of our scarcest and most precious commodities. So Mr. Cruise asked himself, what can I do to help get people healthy that doesn't require a lot of time? He determined strength training at home in the morning was an ideal solution.

Mr. Cruise's tips for a workout include:

  • Use a hand weight that causes muscle fatigue by the 12th repetition. If you can do only five or six reps, the weight is too heavy. If you can do 15 to 20, it's too light.

  • Vary your routine daily, starting with major muscle groups and moving to smaller ones. For example: Work the chest and back on Monday, shoulders and abdominals on Tuesday, arms on Wednesday.

A Sample Program

Mr. Cruise's book and Web site (www.jorgecruise.com) illustrate exercises you can do at home. The following sample session from "8 Minutes in the Morning" requires no equipment.

Begin with a brief warm-up. Do 12 repetitions of the first exercise, then 12 of the second one. Repeat, for a total of four sets of each exercise. End with a brief cool-down. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Knee Pushup: Kneel on a mat on all fours with your knees hip-width apart, your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your fingers pointing forward. Bring your pelvis forward so your body creates a straight line from your knees to your head. Inhale and lower your chest toward the floor -- keeping your back straight and your abs tight -- until your elbows are even with your shoulders. Exhale and push back up to the starting position, keeping your elbows slightly bent.

Bird Dog: Kneel on a mat on all fours with your knees hip-width apart, your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your fingers pointing forward. Keeping your head up, exhale and simultaneously lift and extend your left arm and your right leg. Keep your back straight and abs tight throughout the move. When your arm and thigh are parallel to the floor, hold for a count of three. Inhale as you lower them back to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Continue to switch sides until you've done 12 reps on each side.

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