Cut Your Workout Time in Half

5SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/25/2012 6:00 AM   :  19 comments   :  18,087 Views

How do you fit in the ideal amounts of cardio, strength training, stretching, balance exercises, and core training—without living in the gym?
 
Well, you could do multiple workouts a day: Cardio in the morning, Pilates at night. Strength training the next day and a yoga workout before bed.  Or you could do one really long workout per day, such as 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by 30 minutes of full-body weight training (stretching each time, of course). While both of these options will work, they also take a whole lot of time. And when "lack of time" is number one on the list of excuses people cite for not exercising, I'll give you one guess how far longer and more frequent workouts will get you.
 
How about we all start working out smarter instead of harder? When you combine the right elements of cardio, strength-training and flexibility into a single workout, you're in and out of the gym in half the time—and still getting the results you crave.
 
Think intensity!
Get more from your cardio workouts in less time by upping the intensity. As long as you have a solid base of fitness (you've been consistently exercising at a moderate aerobic level for a few several months), and you don't have any other restrictions that would require you to limit your intensity, you can start exercising harder (think: 80-85% of your max heart rate) for a shorter workout and get the same calorie-burning and health-boosting benefits in less time. Why go easy for an hour when you can pump up the workload and finish in half the time? Here are a few examples (based on a 150-pound woman and using SparkPeople.com's free Fitness Tracker estimates):
 
Exercise Calories Burned in 15 minutes
Walking 3 mph 57
Running 6 mph 165
Cycling 10 mph 98
Cycling 20 mph 273
 
Noticing how upping the speed more than doubles the calorie burn? What would take you 30 minutes to burn at the lower intensity can be done in half the time when you push yourself harder.
 
Use smart strength-training combos.
This is one of my favorite ways to speed through a workout. Instead of doing basic isolation moves, come up with creative ways to combine upper body and lower body toning exercises into a single move. So instead of standing still while doing an upper body exercise like a biceps curl, lateral raise or overhead press, think of ways you can combine that movement with a lower body action (think lunges, squats and bridges) simultaneously. So maybe you lunge while doing lateral raises, squat then push into an overhead press, or lie down to perform bridges while doing a chest press.
 
Combining upper body and lower body training like this has four major benefits:
  • You automatically work your core and your balance with every move (and in a functional way, too).
  • You burn more calories because you're activating more muscle fibers during every exercise (score!)
  • You work out for half the time it would take to do the same exercises one by one (double score!).
  • You'll elevate your heart rate more (by using more muscles), which can provide an aerobic benefit in addition to your strength training workout.
I used this smart "combos" technique (my favorite) when designing the workouts for the SparkPeople: 28 Day Boot Camp DVD, which features fun and interesting new combinations of upper and lower body exercises so you burn more calories and get a great, efficient workout in as little as 12 minutes. Check out a preview of some of these moves here.
 
Now what are you waiting for? Use these techniques, and I promise you will get all the fitness benefits you're looking for—while still having a life.
 
What is your favorite time-saving workout technique?





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Comments

  • 19
    Very interesting. I don't think I'm coordinated enuff to do two things at once. - 8/31/2014   3:12:08 PM
  • 18
    Great hints. Thank you. - 2/27/2012   7:22:40 PM
  • 17
    Thanks for sharing this good info.
    - 2/27/2012   12:31:03 PM
  • 16
    I am using jillian micheals 30-day shred circuit trainings and no more trouble zones.
    and I do "cycling 10 mph "and "running on treadmill (6 mph)". - 2/27/2012   3:29:58 AM
  • 15
    Zumba! - 1/29/2012   8:32:16 PM
  • 14
    I started Bodyrock and it is exactly what the article says - overall intense body workout in a short period of time. I think this article is really good, great advice. - 1/29/2012   1:12:11 PM
  • 13
    I like the walk away the pounds dvd and the 28 day boot camp dvd. Both of them combine and it is a great way to get things done quick. - 1/26/2012   9:44:43 PM
  • 12
    I love Leslie Sansone - Walk the Pound Away 30 minute Muscle Mile Walk. Istrt my day with this Dvd. - 1/26/2012   1:52:38 PM
  • 11
    I love Leslie Sansone - Walk the Pound Away 30 minute Muscle Mile Walk. Istrt my day with this Dvd. - 1/26/2012   1:51:52 PM
  • 10
    I just did Day 1 from the Bootcamp DVD. I'm glad no one was watching me on the boxing segment. You girls made it look so smooth. I'm lucky I didn't knock myself out! I enjoyed the combinations you put together. Thanks. - 1/26/2012   10:29:26 AM
  • 9
    I just need to move! Exercise and I are not the best of friends, but Im trying to make amends...lol - 1/26/2012   7:58:37 AM
  • SBNORMAL
    8
    I am still in the baby stage of exercising. Smart or not smart, I just need to move. - 1/26/2012   12:26:52 AM
  • 7
    EMMANYC is correct...jogging and running instead of walking are much more prone to injury and for me the danger of falling (not really steady even walking LOL)...but you can do intervals of faster (max rate) walking for 30sec to one minute if you are only walking for instance...intervals really boost the value and if you do them manually your body can't get "used" to them (reason you plateau doing the same thing over and over).
    Also if you are doing weights & resistance as well as cardio slow down and concentrate on doing both (pull and release) portions slowly under tension...and you can do less reps with more effect. - 1/25/2012   10:29:20 PM
  • 6
    circuit training! :) - 1/25/2012   5:12:11 PM
  • 5
    Doing work outs from YouTube with Kettlebells and Zumba. - 1/25/2012   11:01:14 AM
  • 4
    10 minutes at a time all day long & every other day I do cardio. - 1/25/2012   8:56:49 AM
  • 3
    Definitely HIIT. Intensity is EVERYTHING. My workouts now are pretty much all under 20 minutes, and I have seen better results than I ever did slogging along for an hour or more. It's all about the effort you put in! - 1/25/2012   8:16:22 AM
  • EMMANYC
    2
    While it's true that increasing the intensity of cardio workouts means that you burn more calories in less time, doing so also increases the risk of injury. I'm a lifelong exerciser with a pretty strong cardio-respiratory system and I'm fairly slim (5'7", 125 pounds) so my body weight is not putting any strain on my structure or systems. I do ST, cardio and stretching, and I cross-train. And still, when I add intense bouts of cardio to my schedule, I often end up injured. I'm more injury-prone than average because I'm biomechanically "challenged".

    So, I don't think it's enough to simply say "I've been exercising for a few months; I can switch to short, intense workouts now." I think people also should consider the following in deciding whether to add intense cardio to their workouts.

    1) Check with your doctor to see if there are any reasons relating to cardio-respiratory factors, or body structure factors, that pose a risk if you do intense cardio.

    2) If the doctor says ok, start small by adding some moderately intense intervals to one of your weekly workouts. For example, add 3-4 45-60 second intense intervals to your treadmill, bike or elliptical workout, so you that alternate slower movement with faster movement. If you usually walk at 3.5 mph, try jogging at 5 mph for one minute, alternating with walking for 3 minutes. Or increase the elliptical resistance from 6 to 9 and try to step 10% faster. The next week, add one more interval to your "intense" workout, and gradually increase the intensity and length of the intervals over the course of a month or so. For example, aim to incorporate 8-10 intervals of 1.5-2 minutes each in a 25-30 minute workout.

    Another way to cut back on exercise time is to make one of your ST sessions per week a circuit workout. Circuit workouts probably aren't the best way to maximize the strength building component of your workout, so you won't want to do them all the time, but they are efficient. In a circuit workout you alternate short cardio sessions at moderately high intensity with a group of strength exercises. For example, a 5 minute cardio warmup, then 3 ST exercises, then 3 minutes of moderately intense cardio, then 3 ST exercises, etc. - 1/25/2012   8:06:12 AM
  • 1
    I'm using the Bootcamp dvd! Sometimes I don't have much time to workout before I have to leave the house and I'm finding the dvd can give me a quick workout that really gets the "burn" going. Love it! - 1/25/2012   7:11:26 AM

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