One of the biggest excuses people use for not working out is that they don’t have the time, but often the best workouts can be completed in smaller time increments. According to fitness experts, working hard and at different speeds or intensities is more beneficial than working at the same pace for a long period of time. So drop the excuses, and get with a fitness plan that meets your free period.
Many people view cardio as the most important key in losing weight; however, building muscle is more important in reaching your goals because muscle burns fat. And, you can speed up your metabolism by interval and circuit training, so here are some basic plans you can tackle in close to no time. The key is to engage your entire body to focus on tightening your core, while also sculpting your upper and lower body.
Best 15-Minute Workout
If you have 15 minutes, you want to put the main focus on your legs and back because these are your larger muscle groups, and in return, where you should place the most emphasis for the best results.
Try 10 walking lunges on each leg with a bicep curl. As you walk forward, dip into a lunge with your arms at your side. As you bring your feet together, curl your arms into a basic hammer curl (weighted to meet your personal fitness needs) with your fists facing inward.
For a cardio burst, get in a pushup position and perform 50 mountain climbers, alternating running your knees into your chest until you tire.
To target your back, try 15 bent over rows. Slightly bend your knees, reach your arms down while holding dumbbells, and then pull your elbows back, squeezing your shoulder blades together, and keeping your knees slightly bent.
Finish off with 10 burpees. Start in a standing position, squat down and jump your legs back, do a pushup, jump your legs back in, and then jump with your arms straight in the air. Try going through the circuit twice.
Best 30-Minute Workout
If you have 30 minutes, keep with the 15-minute routine, but add in some extra cardio bursts and toning routines to extend your circuits.
An exercise band can be used for some upper body sculpting. Try looping it around the bottom of the stairwell, bend over with a flat back facing the stairs, and straighten your arms back so that there is no slack. Bend your arms in and then push them back out again 20 times.
Then try some high knees by keeping your back straight, and pumping your knees up as high as you can for a minute.
Next, do another upper body exercise with the exercise band. With your foot standing on the middle of the tube, raise your arms straight to the side at shoulder level, then lower. Try 20 raises to strengthen your shoulders.
Finish off this circuit by adding in a minute of jumping jacks. You can make them harder by turning them into squat jacks, keeping your knees bent for each jack.
Best 45-Minute Workout
If you have 45 minutes to a full hour to exercise, use the exercise circuits from above, but add in even more intervals.
Think sprints, climbing stairs, speed walking on an incline, or jumping rope. All of these let you switch up your range of motion, shocking your body to burn the largest amount of calories.
Walk the plank. Although all of these exercises have already forced you to engage your core, one of the best exercises for your midsection is the plank. With your arms bent at the elbows and hands together, form a straight line with your body so that your toes are popped up. Try to hold this position for a minute. Then, switch so that your legs are stacked and you are on your right elbow with your body forming a straight diagonal down for 30 seconds. Repeat on your left side.
No matter how long you have, you can see that time is not the key to an effective workout. Circuits and intervals really hone in on using your time—or lack thereof—to your advantage. Odds are, with the shorter span you have to work with, the harder you will push. So don’t feel bad if you can’t eek out longer than 15 minutes, what’s important is to get moving in the first place. Every bit helps and can make you not only look better, but feel better, while keeping your heart healthy.