How many times have you heard people say, “I just don’t have time to work out”? Maybe you’ve used this excuse yourself a few times recently. And it’s a valid complaint with all the demands of modern life – college or job, significant other, kids, hobbies, and the ever present distraction of technology- making it seem harder than ever before to make room for exercise.
But while you genuinely might not have time for a Michael Phelps-style training program or even the hour-long workouts you used to enjoy when you were less busy, you CAN still carve out enough time to make a difference. Try some of these high intensity sessions three times a week to get your body the exercise it needs when your calendar is crowded:
1) Tabata Intervals
In 1996, Japanese exercise physiologist Izumi Tabata did an experiment with Olympic speed skaters to see which interval and rest period times were most effective at boosting the body’s maximum oxygen intake level (aka VO2 max) and therefore, endurance. What he came up with is this: warm up for a few minutes, then perform your chosen activity for 20 seconds at maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of active rest (20 percent effort), for four minutes. The results? A 28% increase in endurance after six weeks.
So if you’re a runner, sprint for 20 seconds and then walk for 10, for example. This might not sound like much, but do the eight intervals at full-on pace and you’ll feel the burn. If you want to be really ambitious after you’ve done the Tabata workouts for a few weeks, rest two minutes and then repeat the cycle, and/or add some planks, side planks and other core training at the end. Or check out exercise and lifestyle expert Ben Greenfield’s Tabata add ons. Be sure to follow with at least a five minute cool down and some mobility work to flush out lactic acid and other by products that can cause soreness the next day.
2) The Little Method
If you want to shake up your interval training a little (pun intended) and have 27 minutes to exercise, try the Little Method. Warm up at a steady pace for three minutes, and then jump right into 12 one-minute intervals at 85 to 90 percent of your maximum effort, with 75 seconds in between each interval. Try to pace yourself so you don’t “fly and die” and burn out halfway through the workout. To avoid this, you can try negative split times, in which you increase the pace of each interval slightly, making the last one your fastest.
According to one study, doing Little Method intervals three times a week gives you the same benefits as five weekly 60 minute sessions of steady pace cardio. And it’s just as beneficial for weekend warriors as it is for pro athletes. I think I know which is a better option if you’re pushed for time.
3) The “Pick Three” Workout
Compound exercises – i.e. those that involve major muscle groups moving through a full range of motion – build more muscle, shred more fat and deliver greater strength gains than isolation exercises such as curls, triceps extensions and the like. That’s why four-time CrossFit Games champ Rich Froning says he does no isolation work. So for your time-strapped workout, simply pick three compound moves, such as pullups, squats, deadlifts, box jumps, push presses or dips. Do a five minute warmup that combines a couple minutes of jumping rope with bodyweight movements such as air squats, lunges, pushups and mountain climbers to get your heart rate up. Then do 10 reps of each exercise in a circuit, with no breaks. Take a 30 second rest, then repeat. Go until 10 minutes have elapsed. Then cool down and mobilize. Too easy? Then add more time, reps or weight.
No matter when you get your workout in, you need the right post-exercise nutrition to recover right. Stick to easily digestible carbs that your body needs to replenish its glycogen stores and high quality protein needed for muscle repair and growth. That’s where UB Super comes in: 15 grams of the finest protein, enough carbs to top up glycogen levels and a unique blend of superfruits, organic vitamins, probiotics with digestive enzyme blend and fulvic minerals that help your body function optimally. And all in a convenient, quickly absorbed shake mix you can take anywhere and at any time, whether it’s after cycling to work in the morning or after a 15 minute nighttime weights circuit.
Challenge yourself to make time for exercise three times a week, add in a daily UB Super shake and see how quickly you meet your weight loss goal or performance milestones. Let us know how you’re doing in the comments section below. – Phil White