The Ultimate Time-Crunched Workout

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December 23, 2011 | 54,018 views

By Dr. Jeff Spencer

What if I were to tell you it's possible to get a great well-rounded, super-quality workout in less than 12-minutes?

Would you believe me?

You probably would is my guess, but, with some level of doubt.

This is totally understandable because of today's fitness culture and our own minds' mistaken belief that "if we don't hurt at the end of the workout it's not been hard enough" mentality; I'd be a bit suspicious myself.

However, science and practical experience tell us that it is possible to get a great workout in only a few minutes if we know what to do.

Finding Time to Work Out in a Time-Crunched Life

One of the biggest challenges in today's rush-rush world is to find time to get a quality fitness workout in.

This frequent challenge can be dramatically compounded especially by a life filled with frequent changes in schedule, which is typical of most people, especially those with kids and who travel often.

Balanced Fitness is Key to Vibrant Health and Wellbeing

A prime objective of all workout programs is balanced fitness development between strength, endurance, flexibility, power and agility, which constitute all the factors that create a fit and balanced body ready to respond to any physical challenge safely and effectively. Doing separate workouts for all these when faced with a hypersonic life is next to impossible to do and trying to only adds to an already over-burdened life. Not a good idea as rushing a workout can lead to overtraining, injury and illness.

Combining the Best of All Worlds

However, there is an option that combines all fitness elements simultaneously to achieve a balanced workout when time-crunched. This workout can also be done to add variety to an existing workout program that's gone stale and needs an element of freshness to revitalize itself. It can also be used as a variation to a great workout program when time isn't available for the usual workout and can also be done when a person needs to challenge themselves in a different way.

High-Intensity Rules in a Time-Crunched Workout

The key to such a workout is wide-spectrum intensity where intense output is balanced with super-easy off periods. This alternating intensity is often referred to as interval training. Interval training has a huge variety of workout configurations as to types of exercise, weights, reps and sets but the prime objective to this workout is to get the most balanced fitness in the shortest time.

Super-Hard, Super-Short is the Success Mantra

Another important factor to consider is length of high-intensity output and its relationship to the rest interval. Ideally, the output effort should be close to maximum but not so long that it over-extends your body. This is especially true with time-crunched lives as such lives are already in the red zone as far as stress and strain goes. This means your immune system is under assault and the risk of illness is very high already -- and when exercise is even slightly too hard it can put that grain of sand on the health teeter-totter that flips it from health to illness.

Free-Radicals Aren't Free

Always consider that the harder and longer the workout the more pro-aging free-radical molecules are created as the results of the increase in body metabolism to meet the energy demands of the workout. Nobody wants to prematurely age so the best antidote for limiting that risk is to exercise at high outputs for very short duration with appropriate rest intervals between them. In this way you'll get the benefits of high intensity without the downside consequence of free-radicals.

The Time-Crunch Workout

The workout that I'm presenting is a hybrid of concepts and ideas that come from a variety of proven sources and it should always be remembered that many different variations on the workout can be created. I encourage you to experiment with the workout and put your favorite exercises into it. Here are the steps to the workout:

  1. The Warm Up – do 2-minutes of your favorite cardio exercise starting at 60% effort and ramping up to 80% at the end of the second minute. Then walk to the first exercise in the workout and do the exercise.
  2. The Workout Exercises – The workout consists of a cardio exercise combined with two weight-training exercises.
    1. The cardio exercise: the cardio exercise can be any one that works well for you as long as you have immediate access to doing the two weight-training exercises after completing the cardio portion. For example, if working out in a gym you could do the stationary bicycle that has quick access to weights, as they are in close proximity to each other in the gym. Of course, you could also do the elliptical or treadmill as well -- it doesn’t matter, as long as you have immediate access to the weights you are fine.
    2. The weight-training exercises:
      1. Bench Press – The bench is the first because it is the easiest exercise to do that recruits all the major muscles of your upper body. If you’re an advanced workout person the power clean or dead-hang clean can be substituted for the bench press.
      2. Leg Press – The leg press is the second because it is the best exercise that recruits most of your major lower body muscles. If you’re an advanced workout person the squat or front squat can be substituted for the leg press.
    Together the bench press (or clean or dead-hang clean) and leg press (or squat or front squat) recruit all the major muscle groups of your body, creating a super full-body workout using all your body's major muscles.
  3. The Workout –
    1. Warm up: As stated above begin the workout with a 2-minute cardio warm up starting at 60% effort ramping up to 80-85%% at the end of the second minute, which is characterized by moderately heavy breathing. When the 2-minute warm up is complete take a 10-second walk to the bench press station and begin the workout as instructed below.
    2. Workout: Do 6 reps of the bench press using a moderate weight as fast as can be done while maintaining ideal exercise form. Then, without rest, immediately do 6 reps of the leg press with a moderate weight as fast as the reps can be done maintaining form. Then take 10 seconds to walk to the cardio station and do 20 seconds of cardio at 90% effort so that the interval done between the three exercises is – 6 reps each of the bench and leg press back-to-back without rest between them then taking a 10-second rest walking to the cardio station then doing 20 seconds of cardio at 90% effort. This three-exercise interval will take approximately 1 minute.
    3. Then, repeat the 1-minute 3-exercise interval seven (7) more times for a total of eight sets, then immediately at the end of the eighth interval, without rest, begin the cool down below.
    4. Cool Down – Do 2 minutes of cardio starting at 75% effort ending at 60% effort at the end of the second minute.

The key to any successful workout is to balance its exercises and intensity to develop the full-body fitness to be a top performer in the home, playing field or boardroom. In today's "rushamania" world it's not always possible to do a full and complete workout from being time-crunched. However, doing a quality time-crunched workout is possible in just 12 minutes by combining short, high-intensity exercise with frequent, short rest periods. Try it, you'll like it as do many others faced with a time-crunched life.

About the Author

Dr. Jeff Spencer, Olympian, ICA "Sports Chiropractor of the Year", and author is one of America's top champion builders and has been directly involved in 40+ Olympic, World, National and Tour de France championships. Please visit Dr. Spencer's website, www.jeffspencer.com, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/connectwithdrjeff for more information.