Twenty-Five Minutes of Hell

Or the most effective workout ever.

Too tired, too old, too fat, too busy. If these are the excuses you use to bail on your workout then eventually you’ll be too sick and too dead for it to even matter. The most common reason people give for not exercising is the time factor and, yes, I understand that you are over-scheduled and very busy multitasking and loading music into your new iPhone.

Who has time for an hour of cardio, plus a trip to the weight room for strength training, followed by a session of ab and flexibility work?

Although it would be fabulous (and narcissistic) to devote yourself to maintaining the temple that is your body, there’s that annoying job that pays the bills and a demanding boss who seems angry when you stroll in freshly exercised with smoothie in hand at the crack of noon. If you’re like most people, you have to shoehorn in the fitness regimen whenever you can and make each exercise minute count.

Besides, an effective workout doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out affair, a quickie can be a good thing. All those people who brag about how much time they spend at the gym are usually wasting most of it. For every 15 seconds spent doing bicep curls, there are five minutes of posturing and other BS. Or, they waste time doing a tremendous number of repetitions of an ineffective exercise and probably with poor form.

How many times have I heard, “I do 500 crunches a day.” Yo, dude! That’s like 450 too many. Instead of flailing your head up and down 500 times, why not do something 12-15 times that actually challenges you?

With the goal of increased efficiency in mind, here are a few key things to remember, if you want to maximize your workout.

1. Short-duration, high-intensity exercise is generally more effective than long-duration, low-intensity exercise. There those times, weekends and days off where you can put in the time and do endurance training but for your weekday workouts, get in and out fast.

2. Natural strength exercises (using your body weight) are generally better than using an excess of props. Keep it simple and learn to use your torso as the anchor and arms and legs as the resistance.

3. Interval training can give you faster results and actually increase your speed as opposed to long sessions of one-dimensional training.

4. Work multiple body parts. For every exercise, make it a two-fer and find a way to engage several muscle groups at the same time.

5. Hmmmm, rest? Not really. Don’t stop completely, instead keep moving but at a slower pace and avoid letting your heart rate drop back to normal. After all, this is exercise and you’re supposed to be exerting yourself. To make the most of your time, move fluidly between exercises and practice active recovery.