The month of December is always a busy and stressful time for everyone. With the sun setting earlier in the winter months, the days seem very short. "Not enough time" is the number one reason for people to either not start exercising or eliminate their regular workouts.
Keep in mind that research has proven regular exercise not only gives you energy throughout the day, but it also helps to reduce stress. Not to mention the fact that forming habits of regular exercise are difficult to create but easy to break.
So instead of cutting that visit to the gym out of your daily schedule, compromise by switching to a shorter workout of 10 to 15 minutes. While 30 to 60 minutes of exercise is ideal and provides the most health benefits, shorter workouts will help to maintain your fitness level and keep you consistent with your workouts, which is key to maintaining healthy habits.
When switching to a shorter maintenance workout routine, utilize full body circuit training for the greatest effect. You'll not only work the entire body, but by also moving from exercise to exercise at a quick pace, you'll maintain a higher heart rate and burn more calories.
Start with a warm up on your favorite cardio equipment. A rower, fan bike or elliptical with moving arm attachments are the best choices because these machines use both lower and upper body movements and will increase blood circulation throughout the body at a quicker rate.
You can also jump rope. Go for 3 minutes. Start slow and increase your intensity each minute so that you begin to break a sweat and increase your heart rate.
For a basic circuit, use the eight strength machines:
- Leg Press
- Leg Extension
- Leg Curl
- Inner and Outer Thigh
- Seated Row
- Chest Press
- Lat Pulldown
- Overhead Press
Try to go through all eight in about 6 to 7 minutes. Keep the weight light and work with a rep range of 12-15.
One round along with warmup and cool down will give you a total workout of about 15 minutes. If you have more time, go through the circuit a second or third round.
For a more intense workout try the circuit below. Use the same warm up as the above workout. Choose a weight that you can maintain good form with and stay within a rep range of 16-20.
- Kettle Bell Swings
- Lateral Lunges (each leg)
- Mountain Climbers (both legs are one rep)
- TRX Inverted Row
- Sandbag Overhead Press
- Kneeling Chops (each side)
- Swimmers (each side)
Try to complete this circuit around 5 minutes. Repeat if you have the time.
Once you've completed either of the circuits, end your workout with some static stretching. Hit all the major body parts: hips, front and back of legs, lower legs, chest, back and shoulders. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
If you use these shorter workouts during your busier times, as opposed to eliminating exercise, you will notice a much easier transition back to full workouts and less loss of cardio fitness and strength during this time. You also won't have to worry about reforming good habits and consistency with daily exercise.