You can get good results from a quick workout, especially if you don’t keep stopping and avoid distractions.
Some people wrongly assume they have to spend an hour or two exercising most days in order to get in shape and lose weight. It’s not realistic for many people and it’s often the reason why people fail to stick to an exercise routine. After the initial burst of enthusiasm that comes with embarking on a new exercise regime, the novelty wears off when the person realises they’re spending far too much time in the gym and not enough quality time with family and loved ones. Short workouts are often dismissed as ineffective, and not sufficient to generate results, but without any good reason. In fact, science actually supports the effectiveness of short workouts.
And it makes sense that most of us can get our heads around giving up 15-20 minutes of our busy day to get fitter.
Exercise routines that take up less of your time are easier to maintain, which means you’re more likely to stay the course and stick at it. You’ll be more motivated to do it, because you know it’s not going to take up too much time and therefore won’t infringe on too many other aspects of your life.
A study published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal showed that a fast high intensity workout of even as little as seven minutes, will produce many of the same benefits as a longer workout.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention added that several short workouts throughout the day are proven to be just as effective as one long workout. So if you do get windows of time throughout the day, you could spend 15-minutes doing a weights workout and a separate 15-minutes doing a brisk walk or going for a run. You would get the same benefit as if you’d done the two sessions at once.
Another benefit of shorter workouts is that it tends to focus the mind. If you know you only have 15 or 20 minutes to exercise, you’ll be less inclined to waste time chatting to other gym goers or taking longer rest periods in between sets. Your workout will be faster, with shorter breaks, as you’ll know time is against you, and therefore your workout will be more intense as you’ll have less time to recover in between sets. This of course means you’ll burn more calories overall.
Many gyms and health clubs are now offering shorter exercise classes, as they know these classes can be effective and that members want results in less time. David Lloyd offers 15-minute abs classes, while many gyms now offer Les Mills GRIT classes, based on HIIT training principles, lasting for only 30 minutes. These classes focus on increasing fitness and boosting fat loss.
So don’t doubt the effectiveness of short workouts. Just make sure you do them regularly. Here are some guidelines:
Even if you’ve only got 15-20 minutes to exercise, always make sure you’re warm before you start. Spend five minutes jogging on the spot, walking or warming up on a CV machine in the gym to raise your heart rate gradually and get your muscles and joints prepared for the activity you’re about to do. Otherwise, you risk injury.
You can devise your own bodyweight exercise session that you can do from home without any exercise kit whatsoever and do it in a circuit training style. Circuit training can help to reduce abdominal fat, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Try these moves – do each exercise for 45 seconds, take 15 seconds rest, then move to the next exercise and repeat the circuit two to three times depending on how much time you have. Try:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your chest up.
- Extend your hands out in front of you for balance.
- Push your bottom back as if you’re sitting into a chair. Keep your head forward and don’t let your upper back round.
- Make sure your knees don’t extend over your toes.
- Come back up to the start position and repeat.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart and your back straight.
- Tighten your core and take a step forward, bending your front knee.
- Drive your front heel into the floor and come back up to the start position.
Repeat on the other leg.
- Don’t let your knees go over your toes and try to keep your back upright.
- Lie face down on a mat with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Extend your legs so you are balanced on your hands and feet. Keep your body in a straight line.
- Make sure your hands are underneath your shoulders.
- Slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself to the ground until your elbow are at 90 degrees. Push your arms back up again and repeat. If you find this too hard, perform the exercise kneeling until you get stronger.
- Find a sturdy chair or the edge of a piece of furniture that won’t tip up.
- Facing away from the chair or furniture, place your hands shoulder width apart onto the edge of the chair with your palms facing down.
- Place your feet hip width apart and place your feet on the floor. Have your legs either straight or bent. Straight leg dips are harder. You can have your legs at 90-degrees, and you’ll find the exercise easier.
Gently and under control, bend your arms to a 90-degree angle.
- Push back up again to straighten the arms without locking the elbows.
- Lie down on your back on a mat with your feet hip-width apart, your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
- Place your hands behind your ears, making sure you don’t pull on your neck as you do the exercise.
- Gently lift your upper body up towards your thighs.
Slowly yourself back down to the floor.