I get asked a lot of questions about exercise and nutrition.
Questions from my clients, group fitness participants, blog readers and social media followers. Sometimes these questions are of a personal nature and I reply privately. Other times, they’re queries that many of you may also be interested in hearing the answers to.
Introducing a new, occasional feature on the blog: “Ask a Personal Trainer”.
(** And note, that names have been changed to protect those who don’t want to be ‘outed’ publicly )
What’s the best workout when I’m short on time? Ask a Personal Trainer
However, sometimes I don’t have time to do the entire workout. My life is super hectic right now with a husband who travels for work, a part-time job of my own, a sick mother who needs my attention and two school age children whose activities take up much of our weekday evenings.
My question to you: if I only have time to do part of a workout, should I cut back on sets and repetitions or only do half of the exercises? Which one is better for my goal of reducing body fat and getting toned muscles? I should add that I can find fifteen minutes of time for exercise almost every day, but realistically can only fit a one hour workout in on Saturday (when my girls are at dance for the entire morning).
Thanks for taking the time to respond (and please keep those workouts coming!),
And thank you for taking the time to ask a fantastic question! You’re certainly not alone in having limited time to exercise. Major kudos for being consistent with your ‘daily 15’; it’s precisely that consistency that will help you reach your fat loss-muscle building goals!
The most important thing you can do when your workout time is limited is prioritize your exercises. Ensure that the exercises you’re doing are the ones most likely to help you reach your goals.
In your case, I’d suggest choosing compound movements over single joint isolation exercises. That is, make sure you’re getting your squats, dead lifts, pushups and rows done before you consider adding a bicep curl or tricep extension to your workout. Not only will the big movements work more muscle groups, they’ll also burn more calories than the isolation exercises will. Plus, biceps and triceps will get a workout anyways; they help with rows and pushups, respectively!
Since you work out almost every day, I’d consider splitting your workouts up by body part. Concentrate on chest and back on day one (think pushups, chin ups, pull ups and rows), legs and glutes on day two (squat, lunge, dead lift and hip thrust) and arms and core on the third day of your workout week (shoulder press, planks and core rotation).
Then repeat the three workout days so that you’re getting two workouts per body part split each week. You should see good growth with this type of training program, particularly if you’re lifting to near fatigue and progressing your workouts from week to week by increasing the difficulty of the exercise or upping the load you’re lifting.
If you find you’re super pressed for time, choose two or three exercises per workout and aim to perform 2 to 3 sets of 8-10 good form reps of each. Super- or tri-setting them (performing one set of each exercise, back to back, before repeating the mini circuit) will save you the traditional minute between sets, getting you through your workout even faster.
And don’t forget to save a few minutes for stretching at the end. Often, when we’re short of exercise time, stretching is the first thing we drop from our routine. Even 3-4 minutes of post-working stretching is enough to help flush out lactic acid and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.
Let me know if this helps!
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