Time’s a rare commodity in most busy lives. Fitting in some fitness is often a challenge. What’s the good, better, best of workout routines? Check out our time-starved but effective 15-minute workout, the better 30-minute circuit, and the gold-plated 60-minute deluxe workout.
Guess what the number-one reason for not exercising is? That’s right: “I don’t have enough time.” But the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology says you need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise per week to stay fit. What if you’ve got less?
Intensity + efficiency = healthy
There’s no “perfect” workout. The amount of time you have to spend, or more accurately, the amount of time you choose to allocate to exercise each day, will determine both the type of exercises you perform, as well as the manner in which you perform them.
For maximum health benefits, full-body workouts are best, rather than workouts that target specific muscles on specific days (an exercise regimen that many bodybuilders employ). In reality, the “best workout” is the one that you’ll actually do! So if you have the will (and a break in your day), here’s the way.
Coming to terms
Following are three different workouts based on standard time increments (15, 30, and 60 minutes). But to understand the programs, here are some definitions you’ll need to know.
A superset involves pairing two exercises (generally incorporating opposing muscles) and complete sets of each, in an alternating fashion, before moving on to the next pairing.
A circuit is a round of exercises (three or more) that are to be performed in order, to completion, before beginning another set.
Interval training involves performing an exercise for a set amount of time and then resting for a prescribed amount of time. Usually intervals are shorter in duration and are performed consecutively.
These workouts are sweat-inducing and tiring, but they’re over fast—and often leave you feeling more energized than before you started! Because efficiency is paramount, each exercise is a compound movement (targets multiple muscles) to be performed using interval training (30 seconds of work, followed by 30 seconds of rest).
All of the exercises involve only your body weight (rather than using weights and equipment), and none of the exercises are too technical in nature. Remember, though, that proper form will always make for a better and safer workout.
Perform these exercises (30 seconds on, then 30 seconds rest) in order.
With a little more time to work with, we can add free weights and resistance. With resistance comes the necessity to focus on form a bit more. But if time is still at a premium, these exercises can be performed in a circuit with 60 seconds of rest in between exercises.
Do 12 reps per exercise (for warm-up, circuit, and cool-down) in a controlled manner. Perform three rounds of the workout circuit. Perform the warm-up and cool-down just once.
Mix it up!
Try mixing up the location of your workouts!
- If you’re lucky enough to live in a land of perpetual summer and beaches, take your workout to the sand for better bang for your buck in less time.
- If you have access to snow or hills (which is a little more likely in the Great White North), use the landscape as your training tool. Snow can make for great resistance training!
If you’re lacking time, there are ways to combine your favourite exercises.
- For those who like bodyweight squats and push-ups, burpees effectively combine both when done with attention to form.
- Play around with your favourite exercises to create your new favourite combination.
If you think you’ve created the next biggest fitness craze, tweet a video to @aliveHealth; we’d love to see how creative you can be!
This is my favourite style of workout—not just because there is more time, but because it allows you to focus on form while maintaining intensity.
Within the 60 minutes, perform the same warm-up and cool-down as for the 30-minute circuit, but focus more on each muscle. Aesthetically speaking, this method should give you the best results for your time, in terms of muscle growth or lean muscle definition (depending on your eating habits).
This workout is performed by super-setting one exercise with the exercise listed below it, with minimal rest between exercises. Perform two sets of each exercise for 10 repetitions.