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Short Workouts Are All The Rage

I’ve been excited to see mainstream media and even mainstream fitness companies promoting shorter workouts.

Even P90X is coming out with a P90X30 (Even though Tony Horton and I have very different views on nutrition, I think he is a workout/exercise genius and always love seeing what he comes up with.)

And while some may think short workouts are just the newest fitness “fad,” there is actually a lot of evidence to prove that they may just be what you need to get truly great results.

That many of us are actually working out for too long.

That short workouts aren’t simply “better than nothing.”

That 15-30 minutes may actually be better for your health and help you reach your goals faster than your hour-long workouts 5 days a week.

Here are some reasons why you should keep your workouts shorter and some ways to maximize your time in the gym.

Just to highlight the some key parts:

  • Hormone levels are optimized with shorter workouts. After about 45 minutes of working out, your testosterone levels return back down to normal and your cortisol levels begin to rise. That means less muscle-building hormone is available AND more catabolic hormone (aka a hormone that breaks down muscle tissue) is starting to circulate.
  • Mentally you just can’t keep your intensity up for an hour or longer. At some point you lose focus and really can’t push yourself to work as hard as you need to for great results. However, if you keep your workouts shorter, you will stay focused and work hard the entire time.
  • It is easy to get a lot out of a short workout by playing with a few workouts variables like shorter rest, heavier weights, more volume, slower/faster repetition tempo…And many of these variables have great health and fitness benefits of their own that aren’t really capitalized on with longer workouts.

Here are also some great 30 minute workouts you can do anywhere.

at home workouts

In case you need something even shorter, you can get great results in just 15 minutes.

Just the other day, I posted a great 15 minute Lower Body Blast. Click here for this great lower body workout.

And below is an upper body 15 minute workout (just so you have a lower body AND upper body option)!

15-Minute Upper Body Blast

WARM UP
Stretch and Roll Out:
Chest/Shoulders
Back/Traps
Lats

WORKOUT

Set a timer for 15 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible in that time. Your goal is to get as much work done as you can in that time. Pick a variation of each exercise that challenges and fatigues you yet doesn’t cause you to go to failure so that you have to spend a lot of time resting.

CIRCUIT:
5-10 reps Dips
5-15 reps Inverted Rows
10-30 reps Battling Ropes Sidewinders

COOL DOWN
Stretch and Roll Out:
Chest/Shoulders
Back/Traps
Lats

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS:

Dips – Beginners may do an assisted variation off of dip bars or parallel bars. They may also do these off of kettlebells or a bench. Advanced exercisers will do full dips and may even add weight to challenge them.

To do a full dip, place one hand on each bar. Press up to the top so that your arms are fully extended. Then slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down. You want to lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. If you can’t get a full range of motion, regress the move so that you can. Then drive back up through your hands until you are fully extended at the top. Keep your core tight so you don’t arch your low back. Do not lean too far forward.

To do this move from the bench, place both hands on the bench behind you. Your finger tips should hang over the bench and face you. Stretch your legs out then in front of you, keeping your butt and back right up against the bench. The straighter your legs are and the further your heels are from your butt, the harder the move will be. To make the move easier, bend your knees and walk your heels back toward your butt and the bench. Bend your elbows and drop your butt toward the ground. Drop so your upper arms are parallel to the ground then press back up. Keep your butt and back right up against the bench. Do not let your body drift forward.

dips off bench

Inverted Rows – Hold a suspension trainer strap in each hand. Walk your feet out so you are leaning back. The closer to parallel to the ground you get, the harder the move will be. Squeeze your core and glutes and press your chest out so there is tension between your shoulder blades. Then row up, keeping your body in a nice straight line. Row until your chest comes up to the handles and then lower yourself back down. Don’t let your hips sink as you lower back down. Also, keep your chest pressed out the entire time (do not let your low back arch though). When you pull back up, don’t bounce off the bottom. If you don’t have a suspension trainer, you can use a smith machine bar or barbell set up low. If there is no bar or XT/TRX on which to do rows, do scapular push ups or corner rows.

bodyweight row

Battling Ropes Sidewinders – Loop the rope around an anchor and hold one side in each hand. Keep more slack in the rope than you would with other battling ropes moves. Relax your arms down straight and stand with your feet between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and don’t be afraid to hinge forward a little. Then sweep your arms to the right, rotating through your core even pivoting a little up onto your left toes. Do not pull to far around. Then quickly sweep your arms to the left. You want to quickly push and pull with your abs to sweep the rope back and forth. Keep your arms more relaxed and only slightly bent. Your arms and the rope should stay out in front of you. The ropes should make snake-like waves on the ground and swish side to side. They should not move up and down off the ground. Make sure you do not round your back as you create the waves. Keep your chest up even if you slightly hinge forward as you create the waves.

If you don’t have a rope or the space to do sidewinders, you can do rotational med ball throws or even a russian twist. You want to pick a move that will work your core and, preferably, get your heart rate up just a teeny bit.

What are your favorite quick workouts?

Have you started integrating shorter workouts into your routine more often or do you feel like a workout doesn’t count if it isn’t at least an hour?

Fit in your workout even when you’re busy!

The other day I read a great post on T-rex to Tigress about trying not to feel guilty about skipping a workout.

While yes, we do want to create a routine and stick to it….while yes, we don’t want to constantly let ourselves off the hook and make up excuses to miss our workouts….We do also have to recognize that sometimes life is going to get in the way and that sometimes WE HAVE TO CUT OURSELVES SOME SLACK!

Sometimes our routine gets interrupted. Sometimes our body just gets worn out. Sometimes our mind gets completely fried.

Sometimes we just need a day off even if we’d made other plans.

And if our body or mind really needs the day off, there is no reason to feel guilty. The day off will help us recover and become re-energized to take on all the upcoming challenges.

That recovery day will actually help us reach our goals more quickly if we need it.

Nothing bad is going to happen to our progress, to our results, to our health or even our routine if we make an educated decision to take a day off.

HOWEVER, there are times when we aren’t able to make it to the gym because life interferes that we can still get in a workout – that we still really want to get in a good workout.

So if you decide that life has interfered yet you still really really WANT and NEED to get in a workout (and it wouldn’t be better for your body and mind to take the day off), here are a couple of great ways to get in a quick workout WITHOUT going to the gym.

1. GO FOR A WALK! – Even if your body and mind or worn down, a walk is a great option! Walks are a great form of active recovery and they give your mind a chance to relax and de-stress. Go for a short walk around your neighborhood or even meet up with some friends for a chat session!

hiking

We go for at least a weekly walk/hike. It is a great time to chat and de-stress and get in a little exercise!

2. DO A WORKOUT AT HOME – While it may not be what you originally had planned or even as tough as what you planned to do, IT IS STILL A WORKOUT. Doing anything is generally better than nothing if you can’t make it to the gym because of time or energy. Doing something keeps you in the routine of working out. And usually once you get moving, you end up working pretty hard! Keep a few go-to home workouts around to make it even easier to stay on track!

home workouts

Cardio in your home!

3. SET A TIMER FOR 15 MINUTES – Short on time so you can’t go to the gym? Short on the motivation to really put in a long, hard workout? Then simply do a short intense workout at home! At least once if not twice a week, my workouts are no longer than 15 minutes…and even though they are short, they are far from easy. Sometimes I find it is easier though to motivate myself to workout when I know it will be over quickly. Pick 3-4 moves and put them into a circuit. Do as many rounds as possible until the timer runs out! Heck, sometimes you can even just put a timer on for 5 minutes as choose one exercise and do it without stopping the entire time. Like 5 minutes of burpees. Or 5 minutes of bear crawls. It may only be 5 minutes, but if you do not rest and try to move as quickly as possible the entire time, you will be exhausted!

4. GO PLAY! – Working out doesn’t have to mean going for a long run or going to the gym and lifting weights. Working out can be playing with your kids at the playground or stand up paddling or surfing or hiking or any FUN ACTIVITY where you are moving. So next time your friend really needs to meet up to chat and you feel like you just can’t ditch her, don’t just go to dinner to talk! Take your conversation on the road and be active. Getting moving could be good for you both and may help you both de-stress! No it isn’t your planned workout, but simply moving will make you feel better and is good for your health!

Go do headstands on a paddleboard even if you do flip over and fall in! (which by the way I did...numerous times...)

Go do headstands on a paddleboard even if you do flip over and fall in! (which by the way I did…numerous times…)

5. DO YOGA…OR PILATES – While both yoga and pilates are tough workouts, they can also be good for recovery. I have a Yoga workout I can easily do at home on days when my body needs a break but I still want to move. Plus if you are stressed or tired, it can be easier to motivate yourself to do a workout that you know won’t completely slaughter you and that you don’t have to travel anywhere to do. You may even find that going to the gym to do a Pilates or Yoga class makes it easier to push yourself to go to the gym on a day when you wouldn’t for a more intense workout.

What all the tips above basically show is that something is better than nothing, especially if we are trying to keep ourselves on a routine to create new healthy habits.

Life is going to get in the way sometimes, but the best thing we can do is not stress or feel guilty when that happens.

Heck, sometimes you even just need the day off.

But whatever happens, it is best not to stress. And if you really do want that workout…Well…Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

How do you handle life getting in the way of your routine?

P.S. Thought it was interesting to read T-Rex to Tigress’s post since most of my writing about life getting in the way has been about diet. But life most definitely can get in the way of working out too!

Here is also a great post by 43Fitness about life getting in the way (AKA TRAVEL/VACATION) and how she handles it. Thought she had some great rules!

Get your best body EVER – In TWO SECONDS!

I’ve spent the last week working with Jeff, perfecting our next workout progression for the gym. We’ve considered so many different variables to make sure that everyone gets the most out of each workout that my head is spinning.

And the crazy part is, both of us  still feel like the progression could be better.

At some point though, you have to decide it is good enough. So I log into Pinterest for a little mental break before beginning some other work.

I don’t know how I feel about Pinterest. It is stupid…But at the same time…I LOVE IT.

I generally try to avoid looking at the Health and Fitness section because I know it will just make me angry.

But today I said, “What the heck. Maybe I’ll find something good.”

AHHHHHHH! (Insert a picture of me pulling my hair out and then starting to rant to Ryan about all the stupid things that are posted…You all should be feeling slightly sorry for Ryan right about now…He listens to a lot of ranting….)

Anyway, every other post is about some QUICK FIX! Some stupid challenge that will help you lose weight INSTANTLY!

I mean…I get it. We all want there to be some secret out there that will fix all of our problems. We all want an easy way out.

But it just simply doesn’t exist.

And on top of that, half the things being posted out there advertising a “quick fix” are complete nonsense!

A month squat challenge where all you do is squats?

WHY?!?

Please someone tell me what the point is? It isn’t even a progression to help you add more weight!

And then there are the 30 days to 6-pack abs ones…Just do a bazillion crunches and you will look amazing….

RIGHT!?!

WRONG!

I mean I get that they are trying to make easy little workouts to get people at least moving and motivated. Even small changes can lead to big results. And I also get that you aren’t going to “pin” a whole diet and exercise program to get a 6-pack.

But really…a bazillion different crunches? Not even full-body core moves!

Seeing these ridiculous quick workouts just made me angry after spending days on a progression. There are just so many HOLES in them.

So many ridiculous workouts that won’t get people any results whatsoever.

Which is sad. Because quick workouts CAN get results.

And 30 day challenges can be really beneficial! In 30 days, you can see a ton of changes and gain the momentum you need to make a healthy lifestyle change. In 30 days, you CAN really dig in and accomplish your goal!

If you are going to “pin” some quick workouts, at least find ones or make some that are truly beneficial. Don’t just throw together some random exercises because it seems like it would be hard or “gnarly.”

Don’t be suckered in by a title like “Better Booty in 2 moves!”

Because I also don’t simply want to rant without doing something about the crap out there, here are my Pinterest Bikini Body Blasts. I wouldn’t normally call them that, but I like the sarcasm I know is behind the title.

These workouts are under 15 minutes, shoot you can even set a timer for 10 minutes if you are really short on time.

And they WILL actually get you results…be it a bikini body, moving and feeling better or getting stronger.

They involve compound movements and work your entire body. The make you move in all the different planes of motion and they work on stability, strength and power. They can be done anywhere or taken to the gym and weighted down to make them even tougher.

You can take less rest and make them more “cardio” or you can take more rest and go really heavy with the moves to focus more on strength.

They will help you burn fat while strengthening your entire body, which, along with a good diet, is what it takes to have the “bikini body” that people are searching for.

bikini body workouts

Enjoy!

P.S. Super Crunch for you Jill!

super crunch

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