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Best workout strategies for 30 minutes or less

So you want to work out but you don’t have time? This is a common answer I hear. My answer will always be tally up how long you are sat on your bum relaxing or watching TV? Then come back to me and say you don’t have time? Once you have established you have some time if you still believe you can only do 30minutes or less, let’s find a strategy to make those 30 minutes the most effective session possible.

Warm up – we all know warming up is important but the way you warm up is important. You really don’t need to sit on a bike, walk or run on a treadmill or do some aerobic based warm up on your aerobics DVD to get warmed up efficiently. The main point to remember is we need the joints to be lubricated and the muscle warmed up for the activity to be performed. A good mobility drill will always get the central nervous system fired up, joints mobile and muscles prepared for the slog ahead. A great mobility drill I learnt was from Phil Learney.

Below is the YouTube video of him putting someone through their paces and it’s just a warm up!

Intensity – so we haven’t got long and we need high intensity, there are a few ways to do this:

          Compound movements are better than isolation. Short time means why waste it doing bicep curls as the overall calorie burn will be low, go for exercises that use multiple muscles over various joints for example the biceps will be involved in a bent over row.

          HIIT – high intensity interval training has had more press as of late and the research does show it is a more effective way of torching belly fat. It is the process of using high intensity anaerobic activity (without oxygen) with lower intensity active recovery activity. They can vary from 7-20 minutes so when pieced together with a warm up as above and stretch. Examples could be the usual 2:1 ratio of 20seconds high: 10 seconds low or even 30:30 or 40:20 are some of my favourites.

          Rest periods – this is partially covered by the HIIT but having shorter rest periods will increase intensity

Efficiency – With limited time we need to think what will be most effective:

          Don’t bother with a moderate aerobic workout; it will barely stoke the fire so to speak. Include resistance that can be progressively increased over time and as mentioned above high intensity or short rests

          Don’t procrastinate – Don’t use the time to think up the workout you are doing or to go through your DVD collection choosing the workout. If you are short of time it needs to be pre planned, any equipment to hand ready rather than digging out from under the bed

          Water breaks – keep them short and have a water bottle ready we don’t want to waste time going to the kitchen pouring drinks and getting distracted.

          Which leads to distractions – keep them to a minimum, animals, TV, phones, music and children.  Preferable not to have dogs or cats running around your feet or children so keeping them occupied or shut away (animals not the children obviously). If your TV isn’t playing your workout DVD then switched off or on a music channel that is motivating. Phones should be out of sight out of mind its workout time not check  text while you should be exercising.

Example Workouts

Easy home Circuit no equipment needed- Burpee and a box

          Do a burpee

          Jump on a knee high box, stool or something similar that can support your weight

          Do a burpee the other side

          Repeat for 45 seconds

          Rest for 90 seconds

          Repeat 10 times = 22 minutes and 30 seconds to complete

          Foot note – make it harder by adding in a press up to complete a burpee bastard, if you don’t have a box type object do it on the bottom two steps in your house. You could do similar and do a version with a squat instead of a burpee.

Home or gym with dumbbells only – Spartacus

This is a classic circuit workout devised by men’s health which was inspired by the television show Spartacus and the actors who used circuits to get in shape for their roles.

          Goblet squat – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/goblet-squat.php#slidetop

          Mountain Climber – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/mountain-climber.php#slidetop

          Single arm dumbbell swing – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/single-arm-dumbbell-swing.php#slidetop

          T push up – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/t-pushup.php#slidetop

          Split jump a.k.a jump lunges – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/split-jump.php#slidetop

          Dumbbell row – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/dumbbell-row.php#slidetop

          Dumbbell side lunge and touch – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/dumbbell-side-lunge-and-touch.php#slidetop

          Push up row – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/pushup-position-row.php#slidetop

          Lunge rotation – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/dumbell-lunge-and-rotation.php#slidetop

          Dumbbell push press – http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/high-intensity-circuit-routine/dumbell-push-press.php#slidetop

          Foot notes – each station is 1 minute with a 15 second rest/changeover. Make sure your dumbbells are to hand you may need a coupe different weights and remember to note your reps. Doing 1 circuit up to 3 is always good = 12 minutes 30 workout up to 37 minutes 30 seconds.

The options are endless but the main idea is to take what you have available e.g. home, gym, equipment and plan ahead a bank of circuits utilising this. Once planned out you can put every last effort into it and progress as much as possible. Give it 4 -6 weeks on your planned workouts before investing in more equipment or planning new ones with what you still have. Using YouTube, health magazine websites or picking the brain of someone that is adept at planning programes will always help keep your 30 minute workouts fresh and interesting to keep you exercising well into the future.