We are increasingly a time-poor society, combining multiple commitments, travel and responsibilities with being social, building portfolio careers, and pursuing passion projects. When we’re not trapped in the office on lockdown at our desk, we are battling long commutes and trying to stay updated on multiple social channels simultaneously. In this context, fitting in workouts can be hard – and yet we know that exercise is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing, especially with sedentary desk jobs.
Before you give up, it’s important to realize that there are plenty of ways to get the most out of exercise, even if you only have fifteen minutes a day. New research is coming out showing that exercising the right way for short bursts can be just as impactful as slogging away on the treadmill for hours, and that the most important thing is to be consistent. And consistency is way more achievable when you’ve crafted a personal exercise regime that is manageable with your other commitments.
Time is our scarcest resource, so make it count with types of exercise and intensity levels which maximize the return on your investment and let you gain the most in the shortest amount of time. Here are some tips to get started:
Ramp Up Intensity
Yes, it is possible to have an effective workout in as little as fifteen minutes – but it all depends on how much you’re willing to put in. The key is the intensity level at which you exercise. The duration of your workout should be in inverse proportion to how hard it is.
If you only have a few minutes, you want to quickly get your body working at the maximum level – that means 90-100 percent effort with very short recovery breaks in between. Whether it’s sprinting, spinning or lifting weights, if you put your all into it for a short time, you have to make it count. Expect to be seriously out of breath or you simply aren’t working hard enough for a 15 minute workout to show results.
Focus On Alternate Muscle Groups
Another hack for getting the most from a time-limited workout is to make sure that you work opposing muscle groups. Our muscle structure is composed of antagonistic pairs, which means when we are working one particular muscle, an opposing one is contracting. You could check out these top tricep exercises and then switch immediately to biceps.
When doing a short, intense workout, you should focus on alternating these muscle groups to give a balanced overall result.
Phase Out Distractions
When you only have a few minutes, every second counts. So if you’re used to scrolling away on your phone in the gym and getting distracted by notifications between reps, then make sure you can focus. Create a dedicated workout playlist, switch your phone onto flight mode so you don’t get incoming notifications and smash it out.
Make a plan in advance so that you know exactly what you are doing and stick to it – the key is to make it automatic and not have to think about it. That gym selfie can wait until after your workout!