Balancing work, home and civic duties doesn't leave a lot of time for body maintenance. But if you want to live a longer, stronger life, you have to find a way to make exercise an integral part of your lifestyle. That's why it's important to know how to get more done with the time that you have.
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Here are a few ways to do just that.
Perform two non-competing exercises (like a push and a pull) back to back with minimal transition time between the two. This counts as one set. Using this method alone can cut your workout time in half, or free up more time for more training volume if needed.
This works best with total body training. Instead of performing your workout exercise by exercise, and set by set, perform each exercise in your total body program in order of largest muscle group to smallest with no more than 30 seconds between exercises. This will allow you to strength train while also getting an added cardio benefit. You can get about two to three sets done in the time it takes most people to get through one exercise.
Escalating Density Training (EDT)
Popularized by Charles Staley, EDT saves time by having you do as many total repetitions as you can of a two to three noncompeting exercise circuit by using moderate to heavy weights in 10 to 15 minutes. During every session, your goal is to set a new personal record or "PR." This can be pretty greuling, but it is very effective in building muscle and endurance. This method gets a lot of work done in 20 minutes, so pace yourself or make room on the floor beside you for your breakfast.
Using combination exercises is one of the best ways to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Performing a clean with a push press will challenge virtually every muscle in your body. The deadlift with a row, "T" pushups, and the lunge/curl/press are some of my favorite combinations. Start stringing together a few exercises together using a barbell, or set of dumbells, and you've got yourself a complex, one of my favorite training methods.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Switching between short bursts of exercise, and slower steady recovery exercise for a short period of time is interval training. This method of training has been shown to be superior to traditional cardiovascular training in recent studies. The key to becoming a metabolic machine is building and maintaining lean muscle. Using HIIT allows you to get an amazing cardio workout without being chained to the cardio deck for three hours a day, or losing a ton of muscle in the process. An easy way to do this is stair or hill runs. Up as fast as you can safely then take your time going back down, and repeat a few times.
It's easy to get in and out of the gym in around 30 minutes. You have to go in with a plan based on what we know are effective ways of getting more done in less time. Trying even just one of these methods will make a huge difference in your training.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and radio personality. Read more at his blog www.hometeamfitnessblog.com