People often ask me, “How long do you work out for?” Many people assume that spending more time exercising is better, but it’s actually the right combination of intensity and time together that makes the magic.
What if you had a recipe for creating a workout to fit whatever time you have? Sometimes we bail on a workout because we don’t have enough time to do what we planned. Life can be relentlessly demanding of both our time and energy and leave us with less time than we’d like for many things. Yes, this even happens to me from time to time!
It happens to all of us.
What is the fix? With a few simple ingredients you can make a workout fit the time you have instead of feeling frustrated trying to fit a 60-minute workout into a 20-minute window.
1. Movement-based Training:
- Bend and lift (squat or deadlift-type movement)
2. Movement Speed: Normal, fast and slow
3. Total-body Movement: Provides more of a cardio challenge than a muscle challenge
4. Shift or Asymmetry : Alternating sides, like a right arm shoulder press followed by a left arm press.
Start with these five movements, use a speed of movement that is appropriate for you and mix in some total-body movements somewhere.
Add body shifts or asymmetry to your taste, preferences and goals. Combine all the ingredients for the available time you have and you’ll wind up with a complete, “fully cooked” workout.
Examples of exercises for each category:
- Bend and lift: Dead lift, squat, Kettle bell swing
- Single Leg Squat or Lunge: Side Lunge, step back lunge, Bulgarian split
- Push: Shoulder Press, push up, chest press
- Pull: Dumbbell row, pull up, close grip pull down
- Rotation: Twisting plank on forearms on stability ball, Russian twist, side plank reach up and under
- Total body: Seal Jacks, burpee, squat thrust, get ups
How to Do It It is best to use time-based sets because our goal is to ensure we are staying within our 20-minute parameter. However, if you are unable to use time-based sets, use the rep-based method shown and simply stop when you hit 20 minutes of workout time. If using equipment, get it out and get it ready because there’s not much stopping once you start.
For Each of the 5 Primary Movements: Fast: 10 seconds (or 10 reps)
Slow: 15 seconds (or 5 reps)
Do this for all the moves, allowing 5 seconds to transition between each move
Finish with 1 total-body move and perform it for 60 seconds
Rest for 30 seconds
Total time for one circuit = 4 minutes
Repeat the circuit 4 more times
If you only have 10 minutes to work out, perform two circuits plus the first 4 moves of a third circuit to hit the 10-minute mark and then stop.
Why This Works This workout is from a movement-based training perspective, so whatever time you have available will provide a benefit. From a time perspective, no matter where you are when you stop, you’ve hit all the moves at various speeds and will have experienced a workout that both feels challenging and provides a benefit to your entire muscular and cardiovascular systems.
Example Workout: Do each move for 10 seconds (or do 10 reps) then move right onto the next move immediately. Do the last move for 60sec, then rest for 30sec and repeat the entire circuit 4 times.
1. Dumbbell or Kettlebell Swing
2. Step Back Lunge
5. Side Plank Reach