We all want to keep fit and look good, and many of us start out with good intentions – perhaps at the start of the new year, or when we are reviewing our personal goals – to go to the gym regularly, eat healthily, and so on. However, the truth is that it’s easier said than done when you have to combine all of that with a hectic schedule in both your work and personal life. This quick, effective 40-minute workout plan – plus our other fitness tips – will help you ensure you keep squeezing movement into your day, no matter how hectic things get.
We’ve designed this workout plan so that it is suitable for you to do it at home and with minimal equipment like a couple of dumbbells, or none at all – but there are also ways to spice things up and keep your interested piqued if you have access to more gym equipment. What’s important is the blend of strength and cardio training, and the high-intensity nature of the exercises that allow you to really pump your body and get all that you can out of the limited time you have available. For best results, try following this workout three times a week.
Warming up and cooling down are crucial if you want to get the most out of your workout and, even more importantly, avoid injury that could set you back further still. Spend five minutes stretching each part of your body so that you are fully ready to exercise intensely.
Exercises like planks, glute bridges and squats are also good for a warm-up session, as are some of the exercises planned for later in the workout, like brief lifting of lighter weights than you would normally use (or simply going through the motions without the weights in your hands at all), or a few short sprints in preparation for the running in the second half of the session.
Going all-out and practising high-intensity interval training will help you to achieve the pace you need in order to break a sweat, get your body pumping, and make the most of the short amount of time dedicated to this workout session.
At home, using either a set of dumbbells or simply your own body weight, perform one continuous set of five to 10 strength or weight-lifting exercises. Then take a short break (just as long as you need to catch your breath and go again, but not so long as to sacrifice your pace). Now, repeat with another set of either the same exercise or, to keep things interesting, another exercise from a choice of four or five you have prepared in advance. Repeat this process as many times as you can in the space of 15 minutes.
If you’re using dumbbells, deadlifts, chest or shoulder presses, and bicep curls all work well. If you’re just using your own weight to power your workout, then push-ups, squats, planks, and sit-ups are all good. If you also have access to more sophisticated gym equipment like weight-lifting machines, you can also use this to substitute for some of the exercises in order to switch things up a little.
It’s time to hit the road! In order to squeeze some cardio into your routine, head for the treadmill if you’re at the gym or you have one at home, or otherwise simply find a space to run outside.
Start by walking at a moderate pace for one minute, then jogging or running at a more intense speed for two minutes, and repeat for the full 15 minutes – in other words, walking five times and running five times in total.
Cooling down is just as important as warming up, in order to ensure that your body has ample opportunity to return to its normal state, that you reap all the benefits of your workout routine, and that you avoid doing yourself any harm. For best results, identify the muscles that you have worked during the main part of the session, and practise between three and five stretches that work them, holding each stretch for around 30 seconds.
What’s your key to squeezing a workout into your workday? Let us know in the comments!
Story by Chris Wotton.