All-action fitness shortcuts
A series of no-guilt, no-excuse, all-action fitness shortcuts are what we all need to break the boredom and monotony of our exercise routines to ensure we are track to achieve your fitness and weight goals.
The solution is high-intensity mini-workouts that you design based on the time and equipment you have at hand. From five-minute "exer-snacks" you can squeeze in just about anywhere, to hardcore cross-training interval sessions that will leave you begging for mercy, these are workouts you can do in less time than it takes to justify why you can't, and that still do you a world of good.
If you have maintained an exercise routine you aren't going to find a few minutes on the treadmill very satisfying. So don't waste your time. Try jumping rope or using the rowing machine instead. You'll get better results in less time with a brand new, unfamiliar aerobic activity.
You see, no matter how well designed your workout is, your body adapts to it and requires more time and effort to benefit. That's why the most dramatic improvements always come at the beginning of a new exercise program ? when your body has to work hard to adjust to fresh demands. When time is short, challenging yourself with novelty helps you make the most of each precious minute.
Besides keeping you free of winter doldrums, this break in your routine might have a host of other physiological benefits as well. Mixing up your training approach is one of the best ways to achieve solid weight loss and steady, well-rounded fitness gains. By trying new exercises, you engage different muscles and work old muscles in new ways. This makes you stronger and less prone to injury.
Workouts Within Workouts
Much like trying a new routine, the concept of "circuit training" combines the principles of several cross-training workouts into one butt-kicking, calorie-burning session. You probably wouldn't want this hard-charging workout to last for much more than 20 minutes, even if you did have the time!
The basic idea behind circuit training involves mixing intervals of calisthenics or weights in rapid-fire, aerobic succession. Pick about five complementary exercises and move from one to the other with little or no rest.
Complete 15 to 20 repetitions of each exercise, but use only about 60 percent of your usual weight. For example, do a set of 15 dumbbell curls, followed by 15 triceps extensions, and then 15 crunches. Go right back to the curls and repeat the whole circuit three times.
Next, get a sip of water and do a set of pull-ups, followed immediately by pushups and crunches. Then, cycle through squats, lunges and step-ups. Follow that with shoulder presses, upright rows and lateral raises.
Use your imagination (or ask a trainer) to come up with combinations tailored to your goals. Just make sure to work opposing muscle groups and cycle through at least three different exercises, adjusting the weight so you can complete each cycle with good form.
Remember, you're only trying to work up a sweat and burn calories while improving your endurance here, so don't try to set any weightlifting records.
Combining aerobics and calisthenics work great, too. For example, pedal hard on a stationary cycle for three minutes, then hop off and do 25 pushups and 25 bench dips. Without any rest, jump on the treadmill for four minutes of hard running, followed by 40 bicycle crunches and 40 regular crunches. Get back on the stationary cycle and start all over again.
Try to complete as many circuits as you can before your time runs out. You may be shocked by how much you can accomplish in just 20 minutes. You may also be horrified by how much of your "regular" workout time you spend just standing around!
Aim for Intervals
Even as you try new exercises, you may still want to keep up your main aerobic activity so you're primed for spring. To maximise your time, consider interval training.
Interval training consists of alternating periods of hard effort with periods of "active rest," in which you keep moving but at a slower pace.
Most interval-training routines are designed to require only 20 minutes, so you won't even be skimping. As you get better, you increase the intensity, not the time.
Interval training provides substantial benefits besides a great calorie burn. It's one of the best ways to increase your aerobic capacity, so that when you get back on your regular schedule, you may notice that your endurance has markedly increased.
Oh, and good news regarding those extra holiday pounds: You don't need loads of time to get rid of them. One of the most misleading exercise myths is that fat calories burn more efficiently at slow speeds. The numbers tell a different story: Stroll along at 40 percent of your maximum effort and you'll burn 4 to 6 calories per minute. Jog, and the burn jumps up to 8 to 10 calories per minute. Run, and you'll cook off closer to 20.
So why bother with intervals? By looking at the numbers, it would appear that the best use of your time is a 20-minute sprint. If you can sustain a 90 percent aerobic effort for 20 non-stop minutes, by all means do it. For the rest of us, interval training provides a more survivable method of increasing productivity while cutting back time.
If you work with intensity, you'll incinerate more calories within 20 minutes of interval training than you've gotten used to burning during a moderate 45-minute session of aerobics.