If you think you’re too busy to work out, you’re not alone. In fact, that’s the most common excuse given for not exercising. When your agenda is brimming with activities and obligations, it makes sense that your workout gets booted to the bottom of your to-do list.

As a mom of a fast-moving toddler, my schedule is not my own. It makes squeezing in self-care practices like exercising challenging most days. So I got to thinking, how can I — and the busy bees of the world — maximize our minutes to fit in vital fitness time?

The solution was simple: engage in a routine that consists solely of compound exercises. Unlike isolated exercises, like biceps curls that target only one joint and muscle group, compound movements recruit multiple major muscle groups for a better overall workout — in way less time.

On days when you think you’re too tight on time to work out, this routine is for you. In just under 20 minutes, you can stimulate, strengthen, and soothe your entire body with this compound movement sequence. For this, you will need a set of free weights and a sturdy step.

A full stretch

  • Begin on all fours with the shoulders over the wrists and the hips over the knees. Take a deep breath in to arch your back and dip the chin in toward the chest. Then exhale fully, adjusting your gaze and tailbone to the ceiling. Repeat eight times.

  • After the final rep, lace the right arm under the body and through the hole between your torso and left arm. Hold for a count then rotate the entire upper body (headed included), to the sky. Repeat five times, then switch sides.

  • Finally, bring your knees out slightly further and hinge back at the hips into a child’s pose, where the tush is resting between the heels and the spine is fully extended and straight. Slip the right arm under the body to stretch the shoulder while the left arm is straight out from the shoulder joint. Hold here for 20 counts, then repeat with the left arm.

Total power

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart. When performing this, aim for a weight that’s manageable but still provides enough challenge. The goal is to really be feeling it by the last rep. Keep your body weight in your heels as you hinge back at the hips to lower the weights to the floor.

  • Shoot the feet back so you’re in a plank position. The shoulders are over the hands and the spine is straight. Perform one push-up.

  • Jump the feet back to the outsides of the hands, push through the heels, and stand. Pull the arms up into a biceps curl, then lift the weights overhead into a shoulder press. Phew! That’s one rep. Complete all of these steps five times.

Balancing act

  • Using a sturdy step, position the entire right foot on its surface — no hanging heels. I’m using the second step for a greater challenge. The higher the step, the harder this will be.

  • Push through the right heel to stand, then elevate the left leg until the thigh is parallel with the floor. Extend the arms out from the shoulders and engage the core to help with balance. Rotate the arms forward for 10 reps, then backward for 10 reps.

  • Lower your right foot and switch legs. Repeat this entire sequence on the left leg. Perform 10 total reps (five per side).

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach in South Jersey. Learn more about her virtual training program at ashleyblakefitness.com.