“Feel the burn.”
What’s the #1 reason for skipping workouts or not prioritizing them altogether? I mean, aside from when gyms are closed and we’re all trying to do our part and stay home.
Time is the main reason workouts get skipped, right? It happens to everyone, even those who love exercise and are good at making time for it. Between work and activities and charitable causes and kids and housework and friends – and, of course, sleep – some days, there’s just not enough time to do it all, a workout isn’t high enough on the priority list.
And that’s okay. Not every day has to include a workout as priority time. Even though we all get 24 hours every day, those 24 hours get eaten up fast.
Another offshoot of the ‘not enough time’ reasoning, it’s easy to fall into the trap of, “There’s not enough time…for a good workout…so I may as well just not do one.”
Oh, but on the contrary. Any and all exercise matters.
Given what we’re all going through right now with most people practicing physical distancing, some full-on quarantining in their homes, and hopefully all of us limiting exposure to the outside world, exercise becomes more important than ever. The mood-boost, stress-relief, and simple normalcy it provides shouldn’t end because we’re limited in other regular activities.
A Quick, Effective Workout
Going back to the scapegoat of ‘not enough time’ preventing us from working out, there are plenty of strategies to get in a quick and efficient workout.
There are about a million people and companies offering at-home workouts right now so I’m certainly not here to add to that. Rather, I have a perspective, a plan most people can take now or apply to future life when, dare I say it, things go back to normal.
While most immediately ‘cardio’ and working up a sweat come to mind when thinking workout, resistance training shouldn’t be overlooked. And there are plenty of ways to get a great lift in a short amount of time.
Now, I know people who regularly spend 45 minutes or even more with each lifting workout. Me, I’ve learned I can get in a solid lift in much shorter time – easily 30 minutes or less. One of the last times I was able to go to the gym, I really raised the bar – or lowered it, I guess? – by cutting that down to 19 minutes. A good, heart-pumping, muscle-fatiguing lift sesh in less than 20 minutes.
Here’s my formula for fast, efficient lifts. Hopefully this helps with those ‘time’ excuses or can be used as you’re doing workouts from trusted companies or trainers.
I should note, this is meant for the average exerciser; someone who’s accustomed to lifting for at least an hour, super heavy and intense might not find this valuable. But, for most, this is more than adequate for feeling a burn and those days when time is crunched.
Resistance Workout Method
First: choose two muscle groups to target, such as back and shoulders or chest and triceps.
Quick note: there are workouts being shared out there that have you working all the muscle groups in one session, similar to the philosophy of a BodyPump class. Those aren’t wrong but, for this quick and efficient method, let’s stick to two groups and really focus on fatiguing them.
Second: plan ahead so you know what you’re going to do and can move quickly between sets. I like to choose two different exercises to do back-to-back as a set, that way it’s easier to keep up the pace.
Example, today I worked back and shoulders. I decided I would do front and side lifts (set one), seated row and lat pulldowns (set two), overhead presses and bent-over single rows (set three) – all with resistance bands.
A lower-body option targeting glutes and hamstrings: Standard squats and stiff-leg deadlifts (set one), bridges and deadlifts (set two), donkey kicks and single-leg deadlifts (set three). For lower body, I use a mix of weights, ankle weights, resistance bands, and simple bodyweight.
Here are a couple of older blogs to give you additional ideas for lower body exercises. One is a bodyweight circuit – no equipment required; the other does have some gym-inspired moves but is just good ideas for lower body exercises.
To Sweat or Not to Sweat
This strategy should take around 20 minutes, depending on how fast you move between sets. It can be done on its own or, one thing I like to do, is break it up with cardio in between, creating almost a circuit.
I have an elliptical; often I’ll do five mins on that, break to do a set, then back and so on until I’m finished. The same could be done with a treadmill or bike, or non-equipment style with mixes of marching, skaters, jumping jacks, endless possibilities.
If you are indeed looking for an opportunity to really break a sweat and get your heart rate up, I suggest the circuit approach. However, if you’re rushed for time and don’t want to sweat (as in, don’t have time to shower), sticking to just the resistance work shouldn’t get you sweaty enough to require a shower.
And I should know, I have, shall we say, active sweat glands. You can call me an aggressive sweater. Bottom line, I sweat easily. No shame.
I hope this simple strategy I’ve adopted and love helps you in your quest to lift, whether you’re just getting started and need a basic formula to begin or you’re looking to make it more efficient or work from your house if you can’t get to the gym.
How are you handling at-home workouts? Is that a new concept or is it normal for you? What other tips do you have to share for working out at home or efficient, quick workouts that deliver? The comments are your space to share thoughts or ask questions so please do so.