“How was your day?” It’s a typical question that you might automatically answer with a tired sigh of “busy”. Your daily commitments grow as you do, from the ones you’re passionate about, like family, to the less fulfilling (and sometimes dreaded), like sorting and paying bills. As the hours in each day become more and more filled, committing time to fitness can seem out of reach. But planning your workout doesn’t have to mean working out what plans to scrap. If you’re low on time, a fast, efficient exercise routine could be just the thing you need.
Amy Gianotti is a dietitian, fitness coach, personal trainer, yoga teacher and the founder of Eating Fit, a website that promotes wellbeing and healthy eating. She’s no stranger to hearing how hard it is to fit in exercise with a busy lifestyle, and knows that being active is something that many people feel guilty about trying to squeeze in. In her mind, though, a shorter workout session is still a workout — or, as Amy puts it, “Remember, something is better than nothing.”
New habits and finding your ‘why’
Amy recommends planning out your workout sessions in advance, including any workout partners you have in mind to keep you motivated. “Start with 20 minutes, 3 times a week and simply go for a walk. Put the word out to a few friends about your intention to be more active, your availabilities and some suggestions [for workouts] you have come up with.” And don’t forget to think about, and even write out, your reasons for taking this time to exercise. “When we are clear on our ‘why’, we have a reason to get up that bit earlier or finish work on time so we can get to our training session. If a reason to exercise describes how it makes you feel, then this is a great motivator as it’s something that is guaranteed with each workout.”
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
If you’re wondering whether a fast workout session can still have the physical benefits you’re after, Amy says that it depends on your goals. If you’re training for a marathon, for example, you might need longer training periods, but for a host of other fitness goals, a lightning fast routine can be a great fit. “If you are wanting to improve your cardiovascular health, general fitness, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, stability, increase lean muscle mass, decrease body fat or increase metabolic rate, then 20 minutes offers more than sufficient time!” Amy’s advice is to concentrate on the quality of the exercises in your workout, combining the achievability of the shorter time period with higher intensity routines. In fact, Amy recommends High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, as the basis for quicker workouts. She says this type of training involves “compound exercises that engage many muscle groups. For example, choosing squats rather than just calf raises.”