by Lori Wright, CPT, Fitness Leader at Green Mountain at Fox Run
Did you know that the number one excuse for not getting in a workout is lack of time? Movement can easily become optional on a long list of to-do’s even though on some level we know it will make us feel better. Or will it? I find that those who subscribe to the no pain/no gain approach to fitness end up dropping their exercise plans sooner than those who focus on feeling good with movement.
After eavesdropping on some conversations at the gym, I can understand why:
- “I’ve already taken a spinning class and now I’m heading to the CrossFit.”
- “Oh yeah? Well, I’ve been on this treadmill for an hour and a half.”
- “My trainer kicked my butt so hard yesterday that I couldn’t even walk up the stairs.”
I can only shrug my shoulders and know that in just a few weeks, I probably won’t be seeing them anymore. Why? Because studies show that motivation and commitment dissolve if workouts are either too intense or longer than an hour.
If we don’t enjoy doing something or if it causes pain, most of us won’t make the activity a priority. So, the key is to first assess how we are exercising – do we look forward to it or does it feel like a means to an end? Your approach could be why finding time to exercise doesn’t make the top of your list.
With that said, some of us are just simply pressed for time and squeezing in movement may be a challenge due to the demands of family and work. If this is true for you, the key here is to become more creative on how to fit short but effective exercise routines into your schedule. You can get a great full-body workout in less than 30 minutes and you don’t have to make it hurt in the process! Here’s how:
1. Make your strength training session a circuit. I have a great full-body circuit that I enjoy, moving from one exercise to the next, and I’m done in 30 minutes. It’s a routine I pull out when I’m pressed for time or feeling a lack of motivation. It’s fun, quick, and it feels good during and after.
2. Take it down to just one set. Not all the time, but maybe when you are short on time or motivation. As you know, life gets busy, so performing one strength training set of 15 reps and then going on a walk for 15 minutes can meet both your cardio and strength needs.
3 Perform combination strength exercises. Add a few of these exercises which work multiple muscles and can shave time off your workout*:
- Pushups (strengthens chest, biceps, shoulders)
- Plank (strengthens shoulders, abs, quads)
- Squats (strengthens quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves)
- Lunges (strengthens quadriceps, glutes, calves)
*Be sure to get proper instruction on form and technique before doing these exercises on your own – and if anything hurts, don’t do it!
4. Try a cardiovascular circuit. For example, 10 minutes on the bike, 10 minutes on the elliptical, and 10 minutes on the treadmill. This is a great way to cross train and to mix it up if you get bored of your usual routine. Another way to sneak in a 30-minute cardio session for the day is to exercise 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes during your lunch break and 10 minutes after work! And don’t forget – stairs are awesome! You can travel up and down your stairs at work (or home) for a strength and cardio workout.
Remember: whether it’s strength training or cardiovascular activity – often 30 minutes is all you need for a fun and motivating workout to help you reach your health and fitness goals.