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How to Build Sexy Muscles in Less than 30 Minutes a Day

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 Yes, I’m dressed as a pirate. It was my daughters 3rd birthday party!

By Christine Ardigo MSRD

Build Muscles and Burn Calories at the Same Time

No, this is not an Ad for the Thigh-Master or the Shake Weight. But my post last week, How to Drop your Body Fat by 8% in 8 Months, sparked the next question in the series. Exactly what exercises did I do to build all that muscle in only a few months. Did I have to perform 250 lb squats? Did I have to lift weights for 3 hours a day, seven days a week? Today I am going to share with you what I did. It wasn’t hard at all. In fact, everything I do, whether it be exercise or eating, I make simple, because I have to do it every day.

Before I start, just know that I had been lifting weights for 15 years before I started this routine. I was familiar with the gym, weights, machines. I did not, however, know what I was really doing. At least not in the aspect of doing it correctly to build muscle. I was like everyone else, going through the motions, thinking that I must be doing something, right?

With that being said *Disclaimer* I am not responsible for anyone doing anything stupid, that they are not familiar with or pushing themselves beyond their safe exercise range. All of you should go into this understanding this and take it slow at first if you are not sure what you are doing. You don’t need to be a gang buster on day one. That will happen on day ten. (Just kidding). The most important thing now, is to get used to the routine, the machines, the exercises and learn to do them correctly. Then you can pick up your game. I also don’t know what previous injuries you have, so ask you Dr or know what you can or cannot do. Most gyms give you one Free Personal Trainer session. Ask for it. Or ask for a personal trainer package for a Christmas/Holiday gift instead of another pair of boots. 😛

5 Days – Half Hour a Day- Anyone can do that, right?

In my former post about Women & Weight Training, I explained that I was in a Zone. Lifting weights harder & heavier than I ever imagined, following specific routines via Oxygen Magazine, and doing them properly. Well, here’s another tidbit: my co-workers and I decided that instead of sitting in the cafeteria for an hour every day, eating and venting and bitching, we should find a gym close to our job and fly there every day and work out for a half hour (Thus the 30 minute proven workout). We found a gym 5 minutes away, worked out for 30 minutes (no talking, resting or adjusting our lipstick), came back and ate in 15 minutes. It worked, what can I say. Plus none of us (with kids) had time to do it at any other time. It was either lunchtime or no time.

We also we came back high on Endorphins, excited by our great workout and that made us want to eat a healthy lunch. FYI, I am always cold and I’d come back with my muscles all heated up and I wanted a cool, refreshing salad and a glass of cold water. It worked all around.

First, let me recommend a wonderful website. ANY body part that you want to work out, you just click on that body part (for example, shoulders), then choose the type of resistance (Barbells, Dumbbells, Pulleys, etc) and VOILA!  Not only do you get a description of what to do, but an amazing tiny video showing you the move. For me this is king because I am a visual person and I need to SEE it to understand it.

Try it now. Click on the link, click on Shoulders, page down to Dumbbell, then choose Front Raise. See that guy in white shorts and a black tank top? He’s doing it. Simple. This directory will help you with every body part and if you get bored with your routine, you can switch it up.


 Yes, that’s me rollerblading in weird clothes. It was an 80’s themed birthday party!

Key Points

Before I show you my routine, let me tell you a few key points:

  • I lift very slow up and down. 5 seconds up and 5 seconds slowly down. Dont let the weight plop back down, that’s cheating.
  • Your back is straight, shoulders back like you are pinching a quarter in between your shoulder blades and you cant let it fall!
  • Choose a weight that you can ONLY do ten reps with. If you can do more than ten, it is too light. If you can do more than fifteen, then what the hell have you been doing all these years!! Heavy means by the 5th or 6th rep (rep=every time you lift the weight up and down), you are wondering if you will be able to make it to ten. Once you get to 10 you are just able to make it
  • I also do one side at a time, meaning, remember that tiny video you just saw? He’s lifting both arms at once. I do one arm at a time so I can concentrate and not have one arm doing all the work, or one arm is struggling while the other is flying away. I’m not in that much of a rush and I want to do it correctly.
  • Because I work until failure, (where you CANNOT lift that weight even one more time) and do many different exercises for each muscle, I only do one set per exercise. (Set=the full 10 reps) Which I always liked. Who wants to sit there doing 3 sets on the same machine over & over. One set, done and move to the next exercise. It makes it more interesting.
  • You will be sore the first week!  It gets better though. The first week you will want to kill me but that’s because your muscles are not used to being trained properly. Pretty Pink weights wont do anything. Once your body is over the initial shock, each week you will get less sore but one last thing: I LOVE feeling sore. If I work out and that muscle group is not sore the next day I immediately wonder why. Did I not work hard enough? Still using the same pound weight for a while now? Not enough sets? Same routine for weeks now? Then change it up!
  • Head up and BREATHE dammit!

My Complete Workout

I am including the link for each exercise so you see what I am talking about it. Just click on each blue link to get the video. All exercises shown are 10 reps, one set, then move on. *IMPORTANT* Whatever weight you choose, on your first set SEE how many reps you can do (count), then pick up a bigger one until you can ONLY do 10 reps. Find out now what size weight you need so your second time doing these you will be ready to go and not floundering around with the wrong weight. (Bring a pad and pen).


Triceps, Biceps, Shoulders

Shoulders: (Choose 3 or 4 of these, one set of each, 10 reps)

Front raise 

Lateral Raise

Upright Row

Seated Rear

Arnold Press (Advanced, look at picture closely)

Triceps: (Choose 3 or 4, one set of each, 10 reps) Important, keep elbows very close to your ribs or head, depending on the move)

Tricep Dip


Tricep Extension

Lying Down

Bench Dip (My favorite, but hard! Don’t use weighted Plate at first)

Biceps: (Do all 3, one set of each, 10 reps)

Bicep Curl (I do this seated, but couldn’t find a picture. I feel it supports my back)

Concentration Curl

Hammer Curl (Again, I do this seated. Notice the weight faces up, unlike the Bicep Curl)

DONE! If it gets too easy or you’re not sore, increase your weights or do all 5 exercises for each body part.


Legs and Butt: (Choose 3 or 4, one set of each, 10 reps)

Front Lunge  (Get the form correct before you add weights to your hands (and you WILL be adding weights). See how the knee does not go over foot. You should be able to lift your toes up too, when completely down).

Step Up (You need good balance for this)

Deadlift (Bar weighs 45lbs without any weight. Don’t do if you have a bad back.)

Single Leg Split Squat (Need good balance, but a killer!)

Dumbbell Squat  (Don’t let knees go over toes like this guy. Sit back like there’s a chair behind you).

Barbell Squat (Advanced. The bar alone is 45lbs. You need good balance. Get a spotter the 1st time).

DONE! If it gets too easy or you’re not sore, increase your weights or do all 5 exercises.


Abs (For a full post on Abs, Click Here)


Chest & Back

Chest: (Choose at least 4 of each, one set of each, 10 reps)

Bench Press


Lying Bench Press 

Seated Fly

Seated Chest Press

Push-ups! (I don’t want to hear that you can’t do a push-up. If you don’t DO them how are you going to know? It’s like saying you cant Hula Hoop. Practice and you will. Also, no cheating, do a real one, no knees. Start with ONE if you have to, then do two tomorrow, then 3 the next day. Work your way up to at least 10). You’ll be surprised what you can do if you actually TRY.

Back: (Choose at least 4 of each, one set of each, 10 reps)

Lat Pull Down (Hands go where the bar dips down, don’t put behind your head. If you want to work your biceps too, you can turn palms to face you and hold bar shoulder width apart and pull down)

Seated Row  (Pretend you have that quarter in between your shoulder blades again)

Pulley Row (Every gym I’ve ever been to, has this machine where you are sitting right on the floor. See how his back barely moves, only his arms move. Make sure that quarter is still there)

Seated Reverse Fly (Quarter)

Bent Over Row

Pull-ups! (First of all, don’t laugh at the video. There are machines that assist you, not this guy. I’ve never had someone help me like this but you can. Secondly, don’t say you cant do this. (remember Hula Hoop story) Do it assisted with the machine and work your way to lighter and lighter weights until you can do it yourself. Every once in a while I try to do it myself, I think i can do 5 Unassisted pull-ups!  You never know. It helps with my rock climbing too!).

DONE! If it gets too easy or you’re not sore, increase your weights or do all 5 exercises of each body part.


Same as Tuesday. You can change up the exercises though, and do the ones you didn’t do on Tuesday. If you can’t work out 5 days a week, and can only do 3, you can do ALL the upper body one day, all the lower body another day, and the Abs on the third day. If you can only do 2 days (excuses, excuses) then do all upper body one day and on the second day do all lower body and the Abs. You have to realize though that it will take longer than a half hour, probably an hour and then you only have one day of legs.


How Heavy Should I go?

This is enirely up to you but just to give you an idea what I lift (and this is after many years)

  1. My shoulders I use 10 lbs
  2. Triceps a 25lb Plate on my thighs & maybe 40lbs on the machines (not sure of that one)
  3. Biceps between 25-30lbs
  4. Legs I hold 25lbs in each hand for lunges, step-ups, squats and split-squats. The Barbell squats 85lbs
  5. Chest and back ranges so much, all the machines are so different. Maybe 60-70lbs on the machines, and the dumbbell ones I use 25lbs.

But as you can see from the pictures, I am not huge, I don’t look like a man. But that’s because I got rid of all that nasty body fat and you need Heavy weights to BUILD the muscles and trust me, it doesn’t happen over night. It takes a while. When you get to where you want, just don’t raise the weights anymore, or slack off a little here and there. That’s the best part of busting your ass for a few months: you can take it easy in the future. I don’t work out 5 days a week anymore. In fact, when I started this blog back in July, I only worked out once in 3 months!!!  No joke. I felt like crap though and have since returned to the gym full force. Gotta fit into my Halloween costume ya know!

*Very Very Important*

Every once in a while SEE if you can do more than those 10 reps. If you can, grab a heavier weight. Now listen, if you grab a heavier weight and you can only do 5 reps, that’s Great! Why? Because you couldn’t lift that much before! And now, continue on like the push-up example. Grab that heavier weight, do those 5 reps, then next week do 6, then 7, then 8…until you CAN do 10. Don’t fall into the trap of using the same weight for weeks on end. You’ll be surprised how many people grab the heavier weight and can do 10 right off the bat and I wonder what the hell they’ve been doing all this time.

Your Reward!

Well, I hope this gets all of you started. It’s the middle of Autumn here and it’s my favorite time to work out in the gym. The yard work is all done for the year, too cold to do much outdoors, and darker a lot sooner. This is when I go hard in the gym, and my reward? Come April, the first nice beach day when everyone is searching for a pair of shorts, a tank top, or possibly a bathing suit, and they look in the mirror after a long winter and…SCREAM! Not me (and not you next year). Spend the next 6 months inside in the gym and come the dead of summer, when it’s too gorgeous to be inside or too hot to work-out, sit back and relax, show off your new hot body, and let everyone flock to you and ask you what you did over the winter!

What about you? Have you started lifting weight yet? What mistakes were you making? What changes are you going to make? Any Questions?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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13 Thoughts on “How to Build Sexy Muscles in Less than 30 Minutes a Day

  1. Give the people what we want!!! the routine with videos and thank yoU!!
    I really enjoy these because I tend to use 95% machines at the gym, good to see these require a set of dumbells, at most and this routine can be done at home as well :)!

    • Christine on October 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm said:

      Thank you Anna, I need videos to really see what you’re supposed to do. I try to pick the exercises i feel work the best all around. Nothing too hard. Once and a while i do experiment, but i find some things awkward. 🙂

  2. Great article… great workout!

  3. I cannot thank you enough for writing this. This is just what I was looking for. I can’t wait to get started on let you know how it goes. Again, thanks for all that you do 🙂

  4. Jennine on October 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm said:

    Great advice! Love it!! So true…you must step out of your comfort zone to see real results! Thanks Christine!

  5. I’ve been working with a trainer for a couple of months now on weight training. Your article is great and reinforces everything she’s been teaching me. I used to work out with light weights, now I can lift much heavier weights and I am seeing results! Your plan is a good one, and 30 min seems doable for many people! Thanks for all the video links too.

    • Christine on March 21, 2014 at 8:30 am said:

      You’re welcome Marci. I am such a visual person i need to see things in order to do them.
      You will see more results soon! Keep it up, summer is coming.

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