Fitting in workouts can be challenging when your days are filled with so many other obligations. Luckily, your workouts can be quick and effective if you're aware of some fitness hacks that can shorten your workout while still maximizing your results. New research is emerging that shows the benefits of less-than-30-minute exercises, and knowing how to craft an exercise routine for yourself can encourage you to workout more frequently.
"Time is our most valuable resource and carving out 30 to 60 minutes per day for exercise can be challenging for many, if not impossible," says certified personal trainer Jarron Vosburg over email. "Fortunately, it isn't nearly as much about the duration of your exercise, but more the type and intensity that translates to it's overall effectiveness."
Many studies are discovering the benefits of short, intense workouts. One recent study from McMaster University found that a 10 minute workout that included one minute of maximum intensity was just as effective for overall health as a 45 minute moderate workout. "Additionally, shorter, more intense workouts will place less overuse strain on your joints, avoiding some of the long term injuries that can result from longer sessions over time," says Vosburg.
If you're often pressed on time but still want to exercise, try these 11 fitness hacks that can help you workout for a short amount of time with the best results.
1. Rev Up The Intensity
Short workouts are all about high intensity. "The duration of your workout should be reversely proportional to its intensity," says Vosburg. "You have only a few minutes to kick your body into gear and you are doing yourself a disservice to sell yourself short of 100 percent effort." This might mean running as fast as you can even for just one minute, as long as you're pushing yourself your hardest.
2. Do Intervals
"Alternating between active and rest periods will allow your body to recover, without cooling down," says Vosburg. "I recommend 30 seconds on of all out effort, then 10-seconds off before repeating the movement or proceeding to the next."
3. Alternate Muscle Groups
"To get the most out of your shorter workout, make sure to work opposing muscle groups if weight training," says Vosburg. "Muscles are part of antagonistic pairs, which means when one contracts the other relaxes. If you perform a dumbbell curl, your biceps contract while your triceps relax. During a short, high-intensity workout, alternate muscle groups immediately following each other for balanced results.
4. Have A Workout Plan
"Have a prewritten workout plan ready, so when you are ready to execute, you do not need to take time thinking about what exercises to perform," says health coach and personal fitness trainer Cheryl Russo over email. Create a go-to routine, or use ideas from a magazine or app to keep yourself on track.
5. Do Compound Moves
"When doing strength training, do compound moves to save time," says Russo. "For example, squat with bicep curl or lunge with tricep extension. This enables you to do more moves in less time." Choose exercises that work multiple body parts simultaneously.
6. Ignore Distractions
When you spend upwards of an hour working out, it's easy to justify taking a second here and there to check your texts, emails, notifications, etc.," says Vosburg. "With shorter workouts, however, your laser focus is required to most efficiently use your time." Plan your playlist beforehand and utilize the "Do Not Disturb" button on your phone. Find somewhere where you can workout uninterrupted.
7. Eat Afterwards
"After finishing a short, high-intensity workout, your glycogen (AKA energy stores) will be depleted and your muscles broken down," says Vosburg. "Consuming protein and carbohydrates immediately after your workout will simultaneously replenish your energy and begin repairing your muscles." Even if you don't eat a whole meal, healthy post-workout snacks can do the trick.
8. Do A Daily Plank
Everyone has at least one minute daily to work the core. "Do a plank every day," says Sarah Hays Coomer, NSCA-CPT over email. "Work your way up to 60 seconds every single day of your life. It will strengthen your core, reinforce your alignment, and prevent injury in the long run."
9. Incorporate Workouts Into The Rest Of Your Day
"Get on your feet and walk every chance you get," says Coomer. "I know it seems small, but it isn't. Walking whenever and wherever you can is the greatest thing you can do for your long-term health and wellbeing, even just five minutes can re-energize you when you start to slump."
10. Focus On The Core
"Work large muscle groups like the quads, glutes, and core to put a greater demand on your cardiovascular system," says Coomer. A strong core boosts the power of your workouts, and it also enhances balance and stability, according to Harvard Health.
11. Work In Plyometric Exercises
"If you are strong enough, find plyometric exercises that will challenge your speed and power," says Coomer. Plyometric exercises, also known as jump training, involve exerting your muscles at maximum force in short intervals of time. Burpees, anyone?
Any workout is better than none, but the best workout in a quick amount of time is one where you really rev up the intensity.
Images: Pixabay (12)