No Time for Exercise? Get Real Results in 30 Minutes

“Get ripped abs in just 3 minutes a day, 3 days a week”…”Lose 10 pounds in a single week with my revolutionary fitness program”…”Drop 4 inches from your waist simply drinking this delicious kale-grapefruit smoothie once a day for two weeks.”

Fitness and weight loss claims have run the gamut and we’ve all seen our share of suspect (if not outright false) claims.  But, I’m going to tell you that you actually can get a great workout that will produce real results in just 30 minutes, if you use those minutes with maximum efficiency.

I’d venture to say that most of us don’t care about how much weight we can squat or how fast we can run a mile.  Looking and feeling better while avoiding the doctor (other than for routine checkups) are probably bigger priorities.  I mean, who doesn’t want to look their best and feel strong and healthy?  Now, I won’t claim that exercise is the only thing necessary to achieve all that, but it’s obviously a key component.  Fitting it into a busy schedule can be tough though, and exercise is generally one of the first things to get bumped when time gets tight.  But what if you could get a good workout done in 30 minutes that addressed flexibility, strength and cardiovascular fitness all inside that time frame…?  You might be less likely to skip it if you only had to dedicate that much time, right?  Here’s how I would construct that  30 minute workout:

Five minutes: Foam rolling – crucial step at the beginning of the workout to work out tightness and trigger points in muscles.

Five minutes: Stretching – static or dynamic, whichever you like or feel works best for you.  Target only the muscles that are tight, typically hip flexors, calves, upper back and chest.

Fifteen minutes: Circuit strength training – move from one exercise to the next in series as one giant set, rest for a minute and repeat.  For example – Body weight squat, TRX Row, Stability ball leg curl and Push-ups (see the video below for the full effect) .  The underlying premise is to do something for both upper and lower body in both pushing and pulling patterns and make the core work in all of them.  Keep the repetitions in the 8-12 max range so muscle strength is challenged.  Do the circuit, rest a minute or so and repeat up to three times.  It really doesn’t have to be super complicated to be effective.  This kind of training give you strength and some cardiovascular training at the same time because there’s a lot of movement and not a lot of rest.

Five minutes: High intensity metabolic work – use an activity that stimulates your cardiovascular system and do it at a high intensity for a short period of time, with rest between bouts.  You could use the slide board, a jump rope, the battling ropes, medicine ball slams, kettlebell swings, or even good old fashioned jumping jacks or burpees.  What you do isn’t as important as how hard to you go after it.  I like to use a 15 / 30 model as a starting place, so 15 seconds of hard exercise followed by 30 seconds of recovery.  Repeated several times, it puts a nice finish on the workout.

That’s it!  Remember – consistency is absolutely the most important element in fitness progress.  Try this 30 minute approach when you’re tight on time and keep yourself on track to your goals.

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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