Roll out of bed, wake up your brain, and work out your body in (good morning!) 6 minutes. It's even better with your eyes closed.
We're not saying that 6 minutes will turn you into Kim Kardashian. But this routine is more than genius. New York City trainer Michael Gonzalez-Wallace has been teaming up with a Columbia University neuroscientist for the last couple of years to design what can only be called the next generation of exercise.
"In the begining I was training all these very succesfful people, but their minds would be on something else," says Gonzalez-Wallace. So he began to add balance and coordination challenges to the strength-training moves, inspired by his years as a former semi-pro basketball player in Spain. Sometimes he even had his clients exercise with their eyes closed. "I started seeing incredible results. The older ones were thinking more sharply and the young people were getting massive definition-really fast."
Since then, science has confirmed his instincts and helped him perfect the technique. "We're still learning," he says, "but we know for sure that the more you challenge the brain when you move, the better the results-both mental and physical."
To try Gonzalez-Wallace's "Super Body, Super Brain" workout (also the name of his upcoming book), check out these four moves. They're great as a morning wake up, but you could also do them after work to wind down, or add them to your usual workout. Ideally, aim for three to five times a week along with 20 minutes of cardio each day. Because you're working multiple muscles and forcing your brain to concentrate with each move, you'll be maximizing the payoff.
Abs, Thighs, and Brain!
Do the following moves one after the other, as one circuit. Rest 15 to 45 seconds. Then, go back to the beginning and do two more circuits.
STANDING TWISTER Works: your core, obliques, glutes, hamstrings, and calves
A) From a standing position (right), hold a towel in both hands with arms straight up overhead. Cross your left leg behind your right and bend both legs. Your back foot should be on its toes.
B) Balancing on your right leg, raise your left leg-still bent-up and out to the side, at the same time as you twist your torso toward it (below). You should feel like your body is making a "C". Hold here for 2 seconds. "This is really challenging, because you're targeting the obliques, which are hard to get to, and where you tend to store fat," says Gonzalez-Wallace (who's showing the moves.) Do 10. Then switch legs and do 10 more to the other side.
DOUBLE PUSH Works: arms, shoulders, chest, glutes, calves
A) Start in a plank with arms straight, slightly wider than your shoulders. Your legs should be together, and your feet on your toes.
B) Lift your right leg behind you, holding the plank position (below). If you want more of a challenge, rather than straight toward the ceiling, direct it slightly to the right side on a diagonal. Then return to the plank (position A.) Now do the same with your left leg. Alternate leg lifts for a total of 10 (5 with each leg).
C) Now drop down from the plank into a pushup position, arms bent at a 90-degree angle, elbows out to the side, head straight in line with the back (right). If this is too difficult, bend your knees and rest them on the floor. Do 10 pushups.
Works arms, glutes, and thighs.
A) Start in a plank position, legs straight and together, on your toes. Your arm are bent, elbows in the floor, and hands clasped (right).
B) Holding the plank position, bend your right leg, so the knee is dropped toward the floor. Now lift the right leg to the side (left.) Do 10 raises (don't touch the knee when you lower.) Switch legs and do 10 lifts with the left.
GIVE AN ARM & A LEG
Works: the triceps, glutes, hamstrings, and back
A) Lie on your stomach, forehead on the floor, fleet flexed. At the same time, raise your right arm and left leg a few inches from the ground (below). Stay in your comfort zone-rather than going for height, just concentrate on lifting the limbs simultaneously until you feel the muscle tension. Then switch and raise the left arm with the right leg. To increase the challenge, add hand weights or use water bottles (hold the weights so that you start with the thumb and forefinger of each hand resting on the floor.) Alternate and do 20 lifts.
Now that you've finished your first circuit, go back to the beginning and do two more. For extra credit, try closing your eyes.
Hey ladies, Michael wants to answer your questions. Got anything you want to ask?
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[Photo Credit: Getty IMages