Quick workouts: How to get results
What’s your biggest obstacle in fitting in a workout today? If you’re like us, it’s time. Luckily, these quick workouts don’t require a lot of it. Whether you’ve got 30 minutes, 4 minutes or something in between, we’ve got a workout routine to fit your schedule.
So, no matter how busy you are, you can squeeze some exercise into your day, whether it’s sneaking away from the office during your lunch break or getting up from the couch to do a few intervals. Read on for five effective workout routines.
The key to getting benefits in a shorter workout is to up the intensity and keep your heart rate elevated for longer. “If you are short on time, dumbbell complexes are a great way to fit in a high intensity, full body workout in just 30 minutes,” says fitness and lifestyle coach Jessica Galopoulos, owner of Elevate Fitness in Burlington, Ont. “Complexes provide a lot of volume in a relatively short period of time, making this method of training a great choice for improving both your strength and conditioning.”
What’s a complex? “It’s a series of exercises performed back to back for a prescribed number of reps using one piece of equipment,” explains Galopoulos.
Warm up for at least five minutes with eight to 10 reps of dynamic moves like leg swings, wall slides, ankle rotations, glute bridges and spiderman lunges.
For this workout, choose a dumbbell weight that is manageable for doing overhead presses. You’ll stick with the same weight for the other moves. Don’t rest between moves. Do these moves in a row for four or five rounds (about 20 minutes).
• Overhead press, 8 reps
• Bentover row, 8 reps
• Front squats, 8 reps
• Reverse lunge, 8 reps per side
• Romanian deadlift, 8 reps
• Squats to overhead press, 8 reps
• Push-ups (no dumbbells), 8 reps
• Plank (no dumbbells), for as long as you can hold the position
• Rest for 90 seconds
Cool down for five minutes, making sure to stretch your quads, hamstrings, back, chest and shoulders.
If you’ve only got 20 minutes for a workout, that’s better than nothing, says Oonagh Duncan, CanFitPro “Pro Trainer of the Year” and fitfeelsgood.ca blogger. “The most effective workout is the one you will do consistently,” she says. But you will have to workout hard. “When I say ‘hard,’ I mean on a scale of 1 to 10 – where one is watching TV and 10 is running for your life – a 20-minute workout should see you hovering between a seven and a nine,” she say.
Focus on compound moves that work the larger muscles for a higher calorie burn. This workout can be as effective as a 40-minute jog, says Duncan, citing research from McMaster University.
Warm up with 10 jumping jacks, 10 alternating lunges with torso rotation and five caterpillar walkouts. Repeat for two minutes.
There’s no equipment needed for this workout, so you can do it anywhere!
• Jump squats: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest; repeat 8 times. Take a minute to recover before moving on to the next one.
• Elbows-to-hands plank: 1 minute
• Burpees: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest; repeat 8 times. Take a minute to recover before moving on to the next one.
• Plank with renegade rows: 1 minute
• Wall-sits with back slides: 1 minute
• Pushups with plank jacks: 1 minute of repeatedly doing 1 pushup with four plank jacks. Rest for one minute.
• Plank with right side hip dip: 30 seconds
• Plank with left side hip dip: 30 seconds
• Stretch for two minutes.
A short high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout will require you to have a good fitness level already so skip this one if you’re a beginner, says Kelly Musovic, senior personal training regional manager for GoodLife Fitness. Instead, give your body the time it needs to rest between moves and work on increasing your cardio endurance with a longer workout.
For those who are already fit, there are some great benefits to a 15-minute workout, says Musovic. “On those days you lack some motivation, HIIT training for 15 minutes can be a way to get your workout out of the way, while still experiencing cardiovascular and calorie-burning benefits.”
Warm up for one minute by lightly jogging on the spot.
Complete this sequence six times.
• Push-ups: 20 seconds; rest for 10 seconds
• Squats: 20 seconds; rest for 10 seconds
• Medicine ball slams: 20 seconds; rest for 10 seconds
• Skipping: 20 seconds; rest for 10 seconds
Finish off with a three-minute walk to cool down.
The 7-minute workout is a buzzy one that’s been endorsed by the New York Times and the American College of Sports Medicine. It was created by Chris Jordan, director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and was published to rave reviews in the Health & Fitness Journal. It really started the HIIT obsession because it proved that short workouts can boost the metabolism (ahem, increase fat burning) and improve athletic performance. Here’s how to train your body in just seven minutes.
Your warm-up doesn’t count as part of this workout, so make sure your muscles are warm and ready for the workout. A one-minute jog should do the trick.
Do each move for 30 seconds (in this order) and rest 10 seconds between each move.
• Jumping jacks
• Wall sits
• Chair step-ups
• Triceps dips on chair
• High knees
• Push-ups with rotations
• Side planks (15 seconds per side)
The secret to being fit is to keep moving. If lack of motivation is stopping you, tell yourself this: “I’ve got four minutes. Let’s do this.” Alternatively, if you complete one of the previous workouts and you have time and energy for four more minutes of fitness, this is the perfect add-on.
“Every single movement counts and any amount of exercise is better than no exercise,” says Duncan. “A 4-minute workout is be a great way to clear your head in the middle of a stressful day, to deliver some oxygenated blood to the muscles, to wake up muscles that have been ‘asleep’ from too much sitting, or to do some spot training on muscles that you are particularly interested in strengthening.”
This type of interval training is called Tabata, and involved 20 seconds of exercise, followed by 10 seconds rest, repeated for eight times. Tabata can be done with any exercise, but Duncan offers these two types of Tabata training.
For overall conditioning:
• Burpees, 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times
For lower-body strengthening:
Alternate the below sequence four times
• Squat jacks, 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest
• Static squats, 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest.