Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Only 15 minutes!...or the missing Intensity Factor (part 3)

OK, time to be concrete and cover the actual workouts you can do if you have only 15 minutes a day. Check the first two articles (Part 1Part 2) if you want to know why such a short amount of time can be enough.

To recap them:

Stimulate your body through training.
Make it work hard to adapt to the stress.
If you train for short periods of time, train intensely!
Feel your muscles burning and hear your heart pumping!
Then relax and do your normal life during the day 
(while your body recovers and grows stronger).
Train frequently, though.
Enjoy every single step of the journey.

Nice and Easy!

So, let’s move now on to the practical part.

How many different workouts can you do to make this happen?
The answer is: Millions!

You can perform as many different workouts as you want, if you follow these principles:
- Use complex movements that utilize/train several muscles at the same time (EPOC is greater this way)
- Train your whole body if possible (upper and lower body, push and pull muscles)
- Keep moving until you are really gasping for air
- Resist the temptation to rest for too long in between exercises or repetitions (come on! it only lasts for a few minutes and remember: you won’t die!)

So, while I encourage you to be very creative and make your own workouts, let me just give you a few examples of what you could do.


Workout 1 (bodyweight only, at home or when travelling)
5 minutes warm-up
- 2 minutes easy jog in place
- 1 minute jogging with high knees
- 1 minute jogging with heels touching butt
- 1 minute jumping jacks
(after this warm-up you should be already breathing uncomfortably)

7 minutes workout
- 10 squats 
-  5 push-ups (women can do this supported on their knees instead of on their feet)
-  3 pull-ups (if you have a pull-up bar at home/ hotel) or 10 mountain climbers
Repeat this cycle until you complete the 7 minutes (stop whenever the 7 minutes are over and keep track of how many cycles you were able to do in that time – next time you should aim for more!!!)
Take short breaks if you need them, but always keep the sensation of gasping for air and burning muscles. In other words, REST! BUT NOT TOO MUCH!!!

3 minutes cool-down
- 3 minutes of easy jog in place to gradually catch your breath

If you have extra time, do some light stretching after you have finished to relax the muscles and to breathe more deeply (5 extra minutes maximum).


Workout 2 (run outside)
5 minutes warm-up
- 2 minutes easy jog
- 1 minute jogging with high knees
- 1 minute jogging with heel touching butt
- 1 minute running faster
(after this warm-up you should be already breathing uncomfortably)

7 minutes workout
- 20 seconds run (fast! come on!!!)
- 10 seconds walk
Repeat this cycle 6 times (until you complete 3 minutes)
Walk slowly for 1 minute to recover a bit
Repeat the cycle 6 more times (until you complete other 3 minutes...hang in there! almost over!)

3 minutes cool-down
- 3 minutes of walking 

If you have extra time, do some light stretching after you have finished to relax the muscles and to breathe more deeply (5 extra minutes maximum).

This particular kind of workout can be used with any kind of aerobic or endurance sport. I use variations of this one also in swimming and cycling for my Ironman training. You can try this also in the elliptical machine, rower machine or stationary bike in the gym. Just remember to do short busts of intense and fast exercise for 20 seconds, and then add 10 seconds of recovery.


As said before, you can create many different workouts. If you like to use weights, you can make circuit training workouts to train the whole body and cardiovascular system in minutes. Other options are to work at home using many different variations of callisthenics or gymnastics moves. 

Also, try to alternate workouts, so you work your muscles in a slightly different way everytime. 

If you are interested in knowing more routines, just drop me a line and I will send you a few links with other examples.

Some final notes.
Since I do not want you to be walking like a robot after the first workouts, let me just give you a general advice on how to start with this.

Your body will need some time to learn the moves and to adapt to the stress. So approach this gradually. 

If you have not been active until now (no, chatting on Facebook does not count as exercise!), take at least one month to do only 3-5 minutes of the actual workout (instead of 7). Do it only 3 times a week, and more importantly, do not push too hard (yet!).

Test your body!
Take it for the ride, but listen to it!
For this first month, when in doubt, do less, never more!!!

Some pain in the muscles is good. Means you have stimulated your body. But too much pain means you overdid it, and you will need extra time to recover. So listen to what your body is telling you, and if you need an extra day for recovery, take it!

Hint: if you are not able to get up from your bed the day after you have done the workout, you might have done a bit too much!!!

So rest and recover when needed. And don't over do it.

However, the best recovery is not necessarily to lie on the couch to watch the TV. It is much better if you stimulate the blood flow in your body (and your mind!) with a nice, brisk walk outside. The relaxing and energizing movement of a walk will help you recover much faster. And it is a great way to clear your mind of any stress you might have cumulated during the day. 

Try it! 
Go out and try it!
(I know you'll be happier afterwards!)

Since I am not coaching you directly, and I am not able to explain every little detail here, let me know if you have doubts or questions. Just drop me a line here and I will try to clarify things for you. 

Attention to details in training, as in life, is key to obtaining the best results.

OK, that's it!
You finally have the theory and examples on how to put it into practice.
Zero excuses now!

So go out and do it!
Don’t think it through too much.
Only 15 minutes! 
Come on!

I can assure you that the first step is going to be hard. 
But I am certain you can do it!
Once you break the initial inertia, you will be on your way.
And then, only the sky is the limit!

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