Walking Guide

6 Ways to Maximize a Short Workout

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You only have 45 minutes to spare for a workout. By the time you change your clothes, get outside or to the gym, and get moving, it’s really more like half an hour of sweat equity, though. Is it really worth the effort and energy if you can’t invest a full hour?
The short answer: absolutely! It’s a myth that there’s some magic at the 60-minute mark when benefits start kicking in. In fact, many experts believe that the one-hour workout is dead. Even just 10 minutes of movement can go a long way toward burning calories, strengthening muscle and improving cardiovascular health.
“Workouts are getting shorter, because people are getting very efficient with their time these days,” says Ashley Pitt, trainer and fitness blogger at A Lady Goes West. “One-hour workouts might stick around for classes and studios, but I think we will see the addition of 45-minute and 30-minute shorter sessions. You can get a lot done in that timeframe.”
The key is maximizing your time, even if you only have a little to spare. Get the most out of your every workout minute—whether you have five minutes or 50—with these tips from professional trainers.

1. Prep your space.

By laying the groundwork ahead of time, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and use every minute of your workout time for, well, working out.
“If possible, set up your spot at home or in the gym with all of the equipment you'll need for your workout before you start,” suggests Sarah Ann Kelly from MomTrainer.com. “That way, you won’t have to waste time fumbling around and looking for the weights you'll need for your next set.”
If your workout space happens to be the wide open road or a trail in the woods, you can still prep by setting out all the gear you’ll need for your run, walk or hike before the workout clock starts ticking.

2. Try Tabata.

Pitt says the key to shorter workouts is going as hard as you can in intervals and using recoveries to regroup and restart. She likes making use of Tabata, a tough cardio sequence in which you work hard for 20 seconds, take 10 seconds off and then repeat for a total of four minutes.
You can do any type of exercise during a Tabata—burpees, squat jumps, high-knee runs or whatever you prefer—as long as you work to your absolute max during each 20-second stint. Then, take the recovery and go hard again. If you do two rounds of Tabata, that's just eight minutes of work, but you’ll definitely feel the burn.
Another short and simple interval workout Pitt recommends is alternating walking for one minute, then running for one minute until you get to 10 minutes. If you're on the treadmill, add some incline for an extra challenge to ramp up the calorie burn. Just remember that it's important to pump your arms and legs to power up the hill—refrain from holding onto the bars for support.

3. Try the P.A.U.L. Method

Dani Singer, fitness trainer and director of Fit2Go Personal Training, specializes in helping busy working professionals exercise more efficiently. He created the P.A.U.L. method to help maximize the effectiveness of any 10-minute workout. It is named for the types of exercises it includes.
Step One: Choose one exercise for each of the following four categories:
  • P - Plyometric cardio (e.g. jumping jacks)
  • A - Abs (e.g. plank)
  • U - Upper Body (e.g. pushups)
  • L - Lower Body (e.g. squats) 
Step Two: Set a timer or use an online interval timer to alert you every 30 seconds.
Step Three: Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, switching every time you hear the timer beep.
Step Four: After performing all four exercises, rest 30 seconds and start again. Continue with this circuit four more times until you’ve reached 10 minutes.
“The beauty of this 10-minute home workout is that you can count on doing it every single day,” says Singer. “And since you’re performing strength exercises back-to-back without rest, you’re strengthening your muscles while also burning fat. It kills two birds with one stone.”

4. Focus on the functional.

When you’re short on time, fitness trainer Rui Li recommends targeting specific muscle groups that maximize your functional fitness, such as the glutes, hip flexors, lower abs, back and shoulder girdle. “There's no sense in targeting a muscle that ultimately doesn't help much with getting you functionally stronger, so if you have less time, be selective with your focus, and choose one or two muscle groups each time,” she suggests.
As Coach Jen points out, functional fitness is training specifically designed to improve balance and power as related to your everyday routines. It incorporates movements designed to mimic real-life activity. For instance, if you often reach up to put things on a shelf or retrieve them, incorporating a dumbbell press into your workout will help strengthen your shoulders and prevent injury from those repetitive motions.  

5. Rock the circuit.

Circuit training is a type of workout that combines multiple exercises, each of which trains a different muscle group. You rotate from one circuit to the next, interval style, with a short period of rest between each exercise.
Lui often uses circuit training to help her clients get the maximum benefit from their sessions. If you’re really tight on time, she suggests creating a circuit and cutting out or shortening the breaks if it's safe to do so. “One of the reasons why workouts can take so long is because people take extended breaks in between sets,” she explains. “Cut that out and just go straight through. You'll get the bonus of some peripheral cardio [this way], too.”

6. Crank up your music.

Ever notice that when a motivating, up-tempo song comes on during a workout, you tend to ramp up the intensity without even realizing it? If you’re running or walking, your pace will likely go up a bit, or you might squeeze in a few extra reps when lifting weights.
Kelly points out that studies have shown music is linked to improved exercise performance. “By finding a playlist that gets you pumped, you'll likely work harder and faster,” she says. “If you've only got a short amount of time, you can use your music to make it worthwhile.”
By incorporating some of these time-saving tricks, you can cut some of the “fat” from your exercise sessions, streamline your sweat schedule and get the most out of your designated workout window.

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KHALIA2 12/6/2018
Great article! Report
KHALIA2 9/1/2018
Thanks for sharing! Report
LOSER05 7/21/2018
Thanks. Report
KHALIA2 6/28/2018
Great tips! Thanks! Report
Good to know. Thanks! Report
Great article, very informative Report
RHVICK 5/24/2018
Great article! I never heard of the P.A.U.L. method but it makes a ton of sense. I'm going to incorporate it in my workout rotation. Thanks! Report
KHALIA2 5/12/2018
Nice tips! Thanks! Report
KHALIA2 5/9/2018
Great tips! Thanks! Report
NASFKAB 5/6/2018
Useful tips but some are beyond my ability Report
KHALIA2 4/30/2018
Good info! Thanks! Report
READY201811 4/25/2018
P.a.u.l. Gym class. Back to the basics before gyms, machines, routines -I like that Report
AMBER461 4/24/2018
Great advice, thanks for sharing. Report
CLGUARINO 4/22/2018
I'm interested in checking out the P.A.U.L. method. This sounds like something that I can and actually will do. Report
MBPP50 4/21/2018
Thank you Report
Great tips! Report
CHRIS3874 4/20/2018
not sure why other exercise programmes need a rest day and this doesn't
MSROZZIE 4/20/2018
Great exercise ideas, excellent article, thanks! Report
BABY_GIRL69 4/20/2018
Shorter is better when you just can't seem to find the time. Report
LADYG67 4/20/2018
Will be trying the PAUL method next week. I love quick effective workouts Report
JANET552 4/20/2018
Great!! Report
ROBBIEY 4/9/2018
nice tips Report
ROBBIEY 4/9/2018
nice tips Report
MICLEEZIM 3/29/2018
Will try to do some of the suggestions. Report
ALCHEMYIAM 3/28/2018
interesting info - thanks Report
BIKE4HEALTH 3/27/2018
Great article Report
THECOZE 3/27/2018
PAUL sounds like a great idea for a quick, anywhere workout... Report
I'm going to meet "PAUL"! I'll give that a try! Thanks! Report
HMBROWN1 3/27/2018
Great info! Thanks! Report
PLCHAPPELL 3/27/2018
I like the use of a timer and the circuit. Report
ARMY_MOM17 3/27/2018
...that was a very informative article... like the shorter workouts... Report
CHAZ2JOSEPH 3/24/2018
Very useful information Report
Which one is for me? Report
OLDSKOOL556 3/24/2018
Great article Report
ARTJAC 3/23/2018
PATRICIA-CR 3/23/2018
Already then! Report
HOLLYM48 3/23/2018
Great article! Report
LOSER05 3/23/2018
thanks. Report
PLCHAPPELL 3/23/2018
Good time savers Report
Interesting Report
SABLENESS 3/22/2018
Agree with BARCELONAME, not realistic for everyone. I was hoping for some 10 min tips to use on breaks in the gym downstairs at work. If I’m short on time, I think the elliptical is the best value. Otherwise, 10 min is good for a quick session on the stationary bike or treadmill. Report
JVANAM 3/22/2018
What you stay focused on will grow. ~ 3/22/18 Report
CHRIS3874 3/22/2018
nice article but what I do not understand is people criticizing the ROM exerciser and then in the next breath gushing on about how great the Tabatha method i Report
Fun article, but it's not realistic for everyone. Report
LIS193 3/22/2018
Good article Report
PICKIE98 3/22/2018
As long as we get the pulse elevated, focus on the body part we are working on.. Report
PICKIE98 3/22/2018
As long as we get the pulse elevated, focus on the body part we are working on.. Report
SUSIEMT 3/22/2018
Great article. Nothing wrong with shorter workouts as long as you can plan well and know what to do. Report
AZMOMXTWO 3/22/2018
thank you Report
Walking Guide