Most of us lead very busy lives, and although we're well aware of the importance of staying in shape, our hectic schedules tend to get the best of us when it comes to setting time aside to work out. It only gets more discouraging when the people we know who are in shape seem to have large blocks of time available where they can spend hours in the gym, sculpting their bodies into a state of perfection. The good news is that the length of time you spend exercising is not nearly as important as what you're actually doing during your workout time. As it turns out, when it comes to working out, less is actually more.
The "Short Burst" AdvantageAccording to a recent study published by the Journal of Applied Physiology, performing short bursts of exercises that are of moderate to slightly vigorous intensity is a more effective way to burn fat than engaging in longer workouts, such as going on an hour-long jog. The study noted that shorter bursts of varied exercises tend to "enhance fat metabolism" when compared with performing only one exercise for the same overall amount of time. So whether you have an hour or only 15 minutes of exercise time at your disposal, the "short burst" approach will give you more bang for your buck in terms of fat-burning capability.
Maximizing Your Workout Time With Short-Burst ExercisesHere are some handy tips to help you maximize your workout time:
- Select exercises that will work several major muscle groups at one time. This is one of the best ways to streamline your workouts and make them more effective overall. Squats, burpees, push-ups, bear crawls and similar exercises that recruit several muscle groups simultaneously work perfectly for this purpose.
- Perform your exercises with an intensity that will elevate your heart rate to the point where it's slightly difficult to maintain a conversation. Once you've completed a set, allow your heart rate to return to an almost fully recovered state, then do your next set.
- To mix it up even more, you can perform giant sets of a variety of exercises instead of multiple consecutive sets of one exercise before moving to the next one. For example, instead of doing three sets of squats followed by three sets of burpees followed by three sets of push-ups, you can do one giant set of squats, burpees and push-ups (one set each), and then repeat the series.
- While it is important to challenge yourself during your workouts, be careful not to exercise to complete exhaustion, as that will actually do more harm than good for your body over the long haul. Some common signs that indicate you may be pushing it a little too hard include dizziness, dehydration and disorientation (like brain fog).
Quick and Effective Warm-Ups to Help You Save Time
Warming up is an extremely important part of your exercise routine; without it, you're more susceptible to injury because you're working with cold muscles. Some people actually dread warming up more than working out; they see it as a necessary evil that they have to drag themselves through before getting to the fun stuff.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to warm up is to perform dynamic stretches - movements that move major joint centers around in various directions, such as knee lifts, arm swings, shoulder rotations, hip circles, etc. These movements do a better job of stimulating your connective tissue and lubricating your joints than performing static stretches. You can perform a series of dynamic stretches for about 3-5 minutes, and that will provide a warm-up that's more than sufficient for your short-burst exercise routine.
Other Time-Saving Tips
- Plan and write out your exercise routine in advance; that way, all you have to do is show up and execute your plan.
- If you're using any type of music player, be sure that it's charged and loaded with your preferred playlist. You don't want to waste precious time in the middle of your workout trying to shuffle through your files to find the songs you're looking for.
- Save any texting, instant messaging, Facebooking, emailing, tweeting, pinning, Snapchatting, Instagramming, etc., for after your workout. Trying to fire off just one of any of the above communications during a workout can take more time than you might think.
The little things do add up when it comes to saving time and maximizing your exercise routines. Keep the above tips in mind to get the most out of your workouts.