If you do have to shorten your cardio workouts due to schedule changes, try increasing the intensity of your workout. If you only have 10 minutes, you want to get the most out of that time by working as hard as you can. Remember to always warm up--in shorter workouts, your warm up will be short as well, but make sure you ease into your workout a bit. Below are some things you can do when you only have a few minutes. Create your own circuit by choosing 10 different cardio activities and doing each one for a minute as hard as you can for a high intensity workout:
- Jump rope
- Jumping jacks
- Walking or running up and down stairs
- Mountain climbers
- Jogging in place
- Squat jumps
- Squat kicks
- Marching in place
Creative Strength Training
It's easier to be creative with cardio since many activities (like walking) are accessible. With strength training, you usually need some kind of equipment and it isn't always easy to find the privacy you need. Don't forget, you can always do cardio and strength during the same workout but, if that's not an option, check out these tips and tricks for fast workouts:
- Do body weight exercises. Pushups, squats, lunges, dips, crunches...these are just a few things you can do without equipment or with whatever is handy (I've done squats holding my husband's heavy briefcase in a hotel room). Check out this No Weight Workout for ideas
- Pick one set of weights and figure out which muscle groups you can do with that weight. For example, 15-25 lb dumbbells are ideal for larger muscle groups such as chest, back and legs. If you pick 8 lbs, you might stick with shoulders and arms. You'll save time by not having to switch weights and still get some work in.
- Use a resistance band. These easily fit in a suitcase or desk drawer and can be used for the entire body. Check out this Resistance Band workout for ideas
- Do one exercise for each body part, one set, the end. 2 or 3 sets is great, but you don't always have time for that. We'll often choose the heaviest weight we can handle for each muscle group and lift to fatigue--whether that's 10 reps or 20. Fast and no frills.
- Do only exercises that are lying down. This sounds silly, but if you do chest press, flies, tricep extensions, close grip bench press, skull crushers and dumbbell pullovers you've just worked chest, back and triceps without even getting up.
- Do everything seated. Overhead press, lateral raise, front raise, bent over raise, bicep curls--right there, just worked shoulders and biceps without standing up.
- Do compound movements. To save time, we sometimes combine moves - squats/overhead press, lunges with lateral raise or bicep curls, deadlifts with bent over rows, just to name a few. Check out this upper body workout for ideas on that.
Workout guidelines are great and it would be fabulous if we could follow them all the time. In the real world, that isn't always possible and even personal trainers can't always meet those guidelines. If you can't either, it's time to throw out all those rules and make your own.