This is How to Make Short Workouts Effective & Get Results

Too busy to work out? All you need is a few minutes.

Time is valuable and when it’s short, the first casualty is often exercise. But just because you’re short on time, doesn’t mean you have to skip exercising completely. 

There is a huge misconception that workouts lasting anything less than an hour have little impact. That to get fit and stay healthy, you need to clock up five hours of exercise a week. While that is highly beneficial, done right shorter workouts can reap amazing benefits, improving your fitness and health.

Here are some strategies for making short workouts totally effective.

Work Multiple Muscles Simultaneously

Most exercises can be divided into compound or isolation exercises. Isolation exercises involve movement at a single joint and usually work a very small number of muscles. Compound exercises use multiple joints and much larger numbers of muscles.

If you exercise using isolation exercises, you’ll need to do something like twelve exercises to work your entire body whereas with compound exercises you can get by with as few as three moves! How’s that for efficiency? 

How to: By focusing on compound exercises like squats, leg presses, pull ups, deadlifts, push-ups and rows, you can get a lot of exercise done in a short time.

Supersets, Trisets & Giant Sets 

Most strength training workouts actually involve more rest than they do activity. If you are short on time that’s clearly not a good way to work out. Instead of resting passively between sets, use these essential rests to perform a second, third or even a fourth exercise.

Here are some examples of how to do this:

  • Super set. Between sets of push-ups, do a set of squats.
  • Triset. After your leg extensions, do leg curls and then lunges.
  • Giant set. Group four or more exercises together into a sort of mini-circuit.

Whichever method you choose, you’ll save a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent sitting around doing nothing. 

Slow Down Your Strength Moves

Ironically, slowing down can make a short strength workout more effective because it’s harder to lift a heavy weight slowly than it is to lift it quickly. When time is short, it’s easy to try and save time by doing your reps faster. However, this can actually take the load off your muscles and may even increase your risk of injury.

Slowing down means more tension on your muscles, less momentum, a more effective set and therefore less need to do a high volume of exercise. Super Slow, a training system where a single repetition can take as long as 20-seconds, is a perfect example of how slowing down can make an exercise much more productive and because moving more slowly makes light weights feel heavy. 

High-Intensity Interval Training 

Cardio workouts are important for your fitness and health but they can be lengthy. Instead of running on the treadmill for 45-minutes, try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) instead.

HIIT workouts involve alternating periods of high intensity exercise with brief rests and is a seriously time-efficient way to exercise. Because of the increased level of intensity, interval training workouts are considerably shorter than steady paced cardio. Some HIIT workouts are a mere 4 minutes long.

How to: For example, after a brief warm up, alternate one-minute of fast-paced running with one-minute of slow jogging. Repeat six to ten times and then cool down.

What feels like an hour’s worth of exercise will now only take about half as long. If 30-minutes sounds like too much, cut the number of intervals and increase your speed. 

Incorporate Your Warm-Up Into Your Workout 

Experts agree that for your workout to be safe, you need to warm-up. The problem is, warming up properly takes time and time, as we know, is often in short demand. Rather than skip your warm up altogether and risk injury, try to make your warm up part of your workout.

Strength workout: Start by doing some light sets of your chosen exercises interspersed with some dynamic stretches and mobility exercises. Pyramid the weight up set by set until you reach your intended working weight.

After all those preparatory sets, you’ll probably only need one or two sets with your top weight to get a good workout.

Cardio workout: Simply start slow and then build up your speed over three to five minutes and then go straight into your workout – no need to stop and stretch unless you are doing sprints or other intense workout.

For most workouts, there is no need to do a prolonged warm-up when you make warming-up part of your workout. 

Workout at Home 

Working out takes time but when you add in a commute to the gym, track or pool, your 45-minute workout ends up taking two or even three hours and who has time for that? Instead of losing valuable time traveling to your workout, do your workout wherever you are.

How to: Bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, and suspension trainers are all very portable and can be used just about anywhere and despite being low tech, are very effective.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a fancy gym full of state of the art equipment – you are literally your own gym! You can work out before your working day starts, during a lunch break or anytime you have a clear 20 or 30-minutes. 

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