Finding time to squeeze in a decent workout can be tough. Modern life makes sure that work, friends, family and re-runs of David Dickinson’s Real Deal take up every precious minute.
But you don’t need to spend each waking hour at the gym to see results. It is possible to maximise your workouts and upgrade your fitness in record time, leaving you free to recline on your sofa, quaffing wine and rolling your eyes at lame Facebook updates. Here’s how you can chop your workout time in half.
1. Halve Gym Time With A Kick-Ass Plan
Gyms are full of people wandering around, chatting and occasionally using a piece of equipment. That’s fine, if the gym is part of your social routine, but real gains are made when you’ve got a solid fitness plan.
Decide on a goal, whether it’s surviving Tough Mudder, bettering a sprint triathlon time or getting ripped, and then select a workout plan that will help you achieve those goals. Take your plan to the gym and record your progress, as that’s the best way to improve and prevent stagnation.
2. Blast A Tabata Workout In Just Four Minutes
The word Tabata is enough to send a shiver down the spine of anyone who has undergone one of Dr. Izumi Tabata’s intense sessions.
Basically, it involves working as hard as you possibly can for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest. The cycle is repeated eight times. Yes, maths fans, that means you just blasted a workout in four minutes!
That said, you will need to add a five minute warm-up and cool-down to avoid risk of injury but you’ll still be finished in less time than it takes to watch Corrie.
The cardiovascular benefits of this kind of workout are huge and you can incorporate a whole load of different high-intensity exercises into your routine from push-ups, jumping squats and burpees to sprinting on the spot.
Workout, shower and wolfing down a sarnie all fitted neatly into one lunch hour. Smashing.
3. Revamp Dead Time: Add Cardio To Your Commute
A simple way of cutting down the time spent training is to exercise on the way to your workout. This only really works if your gym, club, team or class is less than ten miles away but hopping on a bicycle or running to your workout sneaks an extra dollop of cardio into proceedings.
It’s also worth considering cycling or running to and from work if the commute allows. It reduces the need to carry out so much cardio in the gym, and pleases the bank balance.
4. Crank Up The Intensity, Shave Off The Seconds
It sounds obvious but simply going for it harder during a workout will allow you to achieve the desired result in less time. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – interspersing bursts of high-intensity work with periods of rest – has been proven to increase both aerobic* and anaerobic** fitness, as well as burning fat long after the session is over.
The beauty of HIIT is that it can be applied to almost any discipline, from running to rowing, and it takes less time to complete. So rather than sitting on the exercise bike and pedalling at a steady rate for 30 minutes solid, try cranking up the resistance levels and pedalling like a nutter for 30 seconds and then cruising for a minute. Repeat the cycle for ten minutes and feel the burn.
5. Sign Yourself Up For A Quickie
Many gyms are also introducing so-called ‘quickie’ 15-20-minute gym-floor classes, specifically designed for the time-poor. Run by people in the know, quickies cram a lot of sweat-inducing hard work into one very short session.
Spinning is another great way to get results in less time; nothing gets a sweat going like a 30-minute indoor cycling session. Most local gyms and leisure centres will have a list of classes available, but also try scouring Gumtree for local groups and workouts designed to be crammed into a lunch hour.
*Aerobic exercise: Sustained exercise that works the heart and lungs – think running at an easy pace for 5km.
** Anaerobic exercise: High-intensity exercise you can only keep up for a short time before you want to puke – think sprinting 100m.