See Better Fitness Results with Shorter Workouts

The “Pre-Workout Dread” is a feeling that’s all too familiar for most people. Whether you’re discouraged because you aren’t seeing the results you want or you’re exhausted after a long workday, making yourself lace up your sneakers and put in an hour at the gym can sometimes feel like such a challenge. But there’s good news: You actually don’t have to always find the will to exercise for 60 minutes or longer. On the days you’re lacking motivation, try pushing yourself for just 10 to 15 minutes.

How can you get a good workout done in such a short amount of time? The key is doing something called high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Research finds that HIIT doesn’t just make your workouts shorter (and feel like less of a chore), but is also much more effective in terms strength conditioning and weight loss. And you can customize your HIIT workout to what you enjoy doing and what parts of the body you want to focus on. Most trainers encourage a 1:1 exercise to recovery ratio, meaning that 20 seconds of pushing yourself is followed up by 20 seconds of recovery. After getting comfortable with 15-minute HIIT sessions, up the ante to 20 or 30 minutes (just don’t go past 30 minutes—you risk injuring yourself since the workouts are so intense).

Ready to revolutionize your workout routine? Here are some HIIT workouts to get you started (each should be done for a maximum of 15 minutes to avoid overexertion):

  • Treadmill Hustle: After a three-minute jog to warm up, alternate between 30 seconds of fast, long strides (you’ll almost feel like you’re sprinting) and 30 seconds of walking. To keep it interesting and burn even more calories, experiment with adding an incline.
  • Total Body Burpees: By jumping down to a plank and back up again, you are working nearly every muscle in your body. Tighten and tone by alternating 10 burpees with 30 to 60 seconds of rest. If you’re looking to go the extra mile, switch out the plank at the bottom for a full pushup.
  • Sumo Squats: Your legs and glutes will feel the burn as you alternate 12 sumo squats with about 30 seconds of rest. These differ from regular squats in that your legs are much farther apart, with the toes pointed more outward. As you squat down, make sure you keep your knees in line with your ankles. Hold a medicine ball or try explosive sumo squats for an added challenge.
  • Dumbbell Deadlift: HIIT can be done with strength moves like deadlifts as well. For beginners, introducing deadlift exercises to the workout plan can be a bit intimidating—poor form often leads to strained lower back muscles. The key is to keep the core engaged and not round your back. Also, use your legs! The best deadlifts happen when you drop your hips with the weights, and then squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to “push the floor away.” Try doing as many repetitions as possible in a minute, followed by a minute of rest. Only do a few rounds of this—as you get tired, your form might get sloppy.

As with any exercise, focusing on correct form and giving yourself the opportunity to rest is key. Do the above workouts in the morning for a blast of energy or in the evening before you start dinner.

If you have a high-intensity workout plan you love, we want to hear it! Let us know in the comments below.

Photo Credit: MilitaryHealth

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  1. Jumping Jacks with 3lb dumbbell in each hand. 20 sec work (Max Effort!), 10 sec. rest. for 8 rounds/sets. Rest 60 sec. Squats with the 3lb dumbbells, 20 sec work, 10 sec. rest. for 8 rounds/sets. Equals 10 min workout that will have your heart rate going threw the roof.

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