I know I’ve harped on about this before, and you already know the importance of a regular exercise program, don’t you (I’m asking my ambivalent self that very question, too!)?
Perhaps you’re like me, and you have the best intentions in the world to exercise regularly, but then life happens!
Most of us don’t have much time left for exercise — or, perhaps I’d be more truthful if I said, we don’t make the time.
Fortunately, you don’t need to slog for hours at the gym. The key to getting in a good workout, in a short amount of time, is to work out shorter, but ramp up the intensity of those workouts.
Don’t sweat… I’m not taking about a form of medieval torture, which leaves you feeling like your next breath may be your last!
No, you should always feel in control of your workout, and finish feeling like you could do a little more, if necessary.
Two of the best types of exercise you can do are interval training and circuit training. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Interval Training
Interval training is a form of exercise involving short, intense bursts of activity, followed by brief rest periods.
You can do interval training while walking, running, cycling, swimming, or while doing any other form of cardiovascular exercise. For example, if you’re riding a stationary bike, an interval workout might be 10 repetitions of one minute at a fast pace, followed by a one minute rest.
Why is interval training so effective?
The brief rest gives you just enough of a break to keep the intensity up, while being short enough that your heart rate stays fairly high throughout the workout.
This combination of intensity, along with the short rest periods, allows you get in an effective workout, in a short period of time… sounds like a great combo to me.
Elite runners, swimmers and cyclists include interval training in their program a couple of times a week, to supplement their longer and more leisurely continuous workouts.
If you get bored easily when working out, intervals are a good idea for you too, because it’s not necessary to do the same thing every time. You can vary the exercise and rest periods to suit your fitness goals, and the time you have available.
As your fitness levels progress, you should lengthen the work periods and/or shorten the rest periods to make the workout tougher. You might also keep the workout the same and progress by running, cycling or swimming faster as time goes on.
The variations and possibilities are endless.
Since interval training is an intense form of training, it’s very important that you take a few minutes to warm up properly before starting each training session. You should also end with a few minutes cool down afterward, too.
Here’s my previous article on interval training workouts, in case you missed it.
2. Circuit Training
Circuit training involves performing a series of exercises in a sequence, with no rest between exercises.
For example, you might do 10 squats, then immediately perform 10 situps, followed by 10 pushups, etc. Moving from one exercise to the next, with no rest in between.
Why is circuit training so effective?
The trick with this type of training is, to switch to different muscle groups with each exercise.
For example, after you do the squats, your leg muscles can rest while you work your abs with the situps. Your abs then rest while you’re doing pushups, and so on.
This is an excellent type of workout for busy people, since you don’t waste 2-3 minutes catching your breath between exercises, which allows you to get a lot of work done, in a relatively short period of time.
The lack of rest between also keeps your heart rate high, and provides an excellent cardiovascular workout, as well as the strength benefit you get from the individual exercises themselves.
As with interval training, circuit training allows for lots of variety in your training.
You could choose as many, or as few exercises as you want to. Or, do them in any sequence, as long as you remember not to work the same muscle groups consecutively.
As your fitness improves, you can add exercises to your program, or repeat the series of exercises one or more times.
Exercises That Give You Choices!
The great thing about these two workouts is that you can use many different forms of exercise within each format.
If you’re not a runner, you can still do interval training in the pool, or on a bike, etc. If you have a particular set of exercises you enjoy, you can add them to your circuit training routine, or use different exercises each day.
And most importantly for busy people, thanks to the short rest period and high intensity, they give you a great workout in a short period of time.
That way you can get your exercise done, and get on with the rest of your day.
Can you share any tips for exercising when you’ve got a busy schedule?