4 Short Workouts for Those Tough Days

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4 Short workouts for those on a time budget.

As a personal trainer, I always have to remind my clients to “prepare for the storm.” These words of caution express the need for consistency. When life is kind of boring and work is just punch by numbers, we want out fitness to be nearly perfect. This is the time to nail every workout and plan your food for the week. This is also the time to try and set some PR’S, whether it’s weight lifted or pounds dropped off the scale.

But life happens. Your boss likes to crank up the intensity at work. Kids can get sick. For the unprepared, this is the worst time to get caught with your pants down. Now you’re kicking yourself in the butt and wish you took the last two months seriously. You should have ate out less and hit the gym a tad more often. This is the storm that I’m talking about. It’s unrelenting. Not exactly the best time to try and do a lifestyle overhaul.

If you have prepared yourself for the storm though, then your fitness doesn’t have to go down the tube. You can take advantage of quick workouts. These short workouts are intense and to the point – we’re talking about 10 minutes here. Your conditioning will help you zip through these rather intense routines. I do have to throw a disclaimer out there: these workouts aren’t going to give you a six pack for beach season. They probably won’t lead to much weight loss either but that’s not the point. What we’re trying to do is simply survive some tough times. When a trip to the gym is out of the question these quick workouts can help you break a sweat and keep you sane. So let’s get to it:

  1. Bodyweight Ladder

                Simply pick three exercises and a number. Your number should be anywhere between 8 and 12. Your movements require as much muscle mass as possible, so a push up – squat- chin up trio is a great place to start. A workout would look like this:

Chin up x 8 reps

Squat x 8 reps

Push Up x 8 reps

Chin up x 7 reps

Squat x 7 reps

Push Up x 7 reps

Chin up x 6 reps…..work your way down to 1 rep for each move.

  1. Burpee Pyramid – Prison Style

                A prison style workout doesn’t require you to actually go to jail. All you need is a room that mimics a cell (so no, this workout doesn’t require you to shoplift a candy bar). Once again pick a number, but in this case, be conservative. You’re going to do what’s called a pyramid. So if you start at 6 burpees, you’ll work your way down to 1 and then back to 6. Based on our example, the workout would go 6,5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5,6. That’s 41 burpees!

The “prison” aspect comes in because you start at one side of the room and begin your burpees. When you complete your number, walk to the other side of the room. That’s your rest. Once you’re on the other side, immediately resume your burpees. Walk back and forth and knock out your burpees till the workout is over. As the workout progresses, you may start to walk slower.

Note: You can modify the burpee based on your fitness level. Advanced people can perform a normal burpee, but those with joint issues can simply drop down into the top of a push up and stand back up.

  1. Time Trials

                Pick your poison – airdyne bike, rower, or running/walking (depending on your conditioning level). You simply want to select a distance and get there as fast as you can. Hence the name “time trial.” You need something that’s aggressive but not too long – a five mile time trial will help burn calories during the run but won’t do much for your metabolism later in the day. And you don’t have time for that anyway.

I would say 1,000 meters on the rower is a good place to start, and a 400 meter run/jog can be very taxing on your conditioning. Depending on the distance you pick, you can probably get 2-3 rounds within 10 minutes.

  1. Jump Rope

                You can never go wrong with jumping rope. You can vary your intensity by using jumps with high knees, skipping, and moving around the room while you jump. Those who want things extra spicy can always throw in some double-unders. Just set a timer and have at it.

Note: If you can’t jump rope for 10 minutes straight, break the workout up into an equal work/rest ratio. This means that if you jump for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds.

While these short workouts won’t shed away pounds, they will help when times get tough. Sometimes perfection isn’t always possible but progress is still an option.

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