Today’s post is brought to you by the awesome folks over at SparkPeople.com. (Have you heard? We have an FBG team over there with monthly fit challenges!) Be sure to read all of their fantastic tips and then enter the giveaway to win a copy of their updated book The Spark, now in paperback!
Think you need an hour to work out? Think again! You can get great results with short workouts—not only because you’re more likely to stick with them, but also because you’ll learn to maximize what little time you have to devote to exercise. Use these ideas to get better results in less time!
How to Make the Most of a Quick Workout
1. Add incline. If you’re using cardio machines or walking or biking outdoors, take to the hills! This will challenge your body more and burn a greater number of calories in the same amount of time.
2. Don’t hold on. Leaning on the handles or the console of a cardio machine feels easier for a reason: It takes weight off your lower body so you’re not working as hard. Resist the urge to relax by focusing on good posture.
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3. Try intervals. Interval training (alternating between higher-intensity and lower-intensity bursts within a single workout) improves your fitness level and burns more fat than exercising at one steady pace. Try short intervals (start with 10 to 30 seconds) of high-intensity exercise, such as running, followed by some longer intervals (about one to two minutes) of lower-intensity moves, such as walking. Repeat several times throughout your workout session.
4. Don’t fear the weights. Strength training can help improve your appearance and boost your metabolism so you burn more calories, even at rest.
5. Get on the circuit train. Keep your heart rate up, stoke your metabolism and get more done in a single workout by moving quickly from one exercise to the next to diminish downtime and burn more calories.
6. Multitask your moves. SparkPeople’s Coach Nicole is a fan of compound exercises, which work multiple muscle groups at once, saving you time. Try to combine exercises, working the upper and lower body at the same time, whenever you can.
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7. Lower slower. Use a two/four count during strength training: Take two seconds to lift and four seconds to return the weight. Research shows that exercisers who lower the weight in this slow, controlled manner gain nearly twice as much strength as those who take less time.
Thanks for the great tips, SparkPeople! If you’d like to learn more great tips like this, leave a comment on our site sharing what your favorite quick workout is, and we’ll select FIVE lucky U.S. readers to win a copy of The Spark in paperback! Winners will be notified by email in about a week, so don’t delay! —Jenn