Is it ever possible to be too busy to keep fit? It seems not, in fact the busier you are, the better you might fare out of your super-quick workout where no instructor or membership fees are needed.
The rise of the “Fitness Minimalist” has seen busy workers fitting in high intensity workouts into 20-30 minute sessions. And this high intensity interval training has been shown to improve cardiovascular endurance and to burn fat.
This means that no matter how busy you are, you can fit in exercise which consists of 30 second bursts of energy, which can be done anywhere just using your own bodyweight.
Using you own bodyweight you can complete a workout in just seven minutes with 12 exercises, a wall and a chair. A specific high-intensity circuit training programme which relies on bodyweight, entitled Maximum Results with Minimal Investment is published in the American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness and the order goes like this: Jumping Jacks, Wall Sits, Push Ups, Abdominal Crunches, Step Up onto Chair, Squat, Tricep Dip on Chair, Plank, High Knees Running in one Place, Lunge, Push Up and Rotation, Side Plank. The idea is to all these exercises to such high intensity that they hurt. The good thing is that after seven minutes, you’re finished!
If you’re really pushed for time then think about the intensity of exercises. These could be lunges, squats or burpees, but the harder you push it the more you’ll gain. Research has shown that it’s this intensity that beats the slow workouts for cardio fitness.
Many people are now following a method known as Tabata timing. This essentially is taking an exercise – something like a star jump for example and performing that one exercise for 20 seconds, followed by a rest of ten seconds. Repeat the work/rest routine eight times and clock in four minutes flat. Now four minutes may not seem like much, but it’s this short intensity that has been shown to improve athletic performance.
The philosophy for the busy person should be why jog when you can sprint? Forget easing into a workout, it’s all about hitting it hard and at your maximum effort. High Intensity and Interval Workouts, or HIITs as they’re known, alternate between these periods of all out going for it, and brief recovery. You’ll need a timer. Set it for 60 seconds and sprint, swim, bike or row like you’ve never done before over that minute. Take 60 to 90 seconds rest before you go all out again.
A few key pieces of versatile equipment can be a real help for the busy exerciser. A pull up bar, a chair, or a skipping rope can all be super-effective pieces of exercise equipment to maximise your workout. A skipping rope means fast-paced skips and single leg jumps can give you the cardio fitness of a boxer. Kettlebells will help you work every major body part and really help with strength training, and the humble chair can help with tricep dips, raised leg sit ups and all manner of core strength exercises.
You don’t need to be in the gym or at the athletics track to get a decent workout if you’re pushed for time. The fact is you could do most of the high intensity circuit exercises in the stairwell at the office, or in your own front room. Often the image of gyms and high tech equipment is what draws people in to exercise, but really you only need yourself and a few seconds to carry out any number of exercises – often ones that are more beneficial than those that require expensive machinery.
As soon as you embrace the fact that exercise can be done practically anywhere, with hardly any time requirements, then you’ll be able to reap the rewards. It’s easy to make excuses for why we’ve not done anything in terms of fitness during the day, and it’s all too easy to use our busy lives as a reason to not fit any exercise in, but in reality nobody is too busy to exercise.
So while our lives seem busier than ever, it’s reassuring to know that we can take such simple steps to remain fit and healthy.
The rise of the Fitness Minimalist comes as no surprise in this day and age, and it’s great news for those who are wanting to stay in shape but are strapped for time.
by Jessica Ward
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