The best exercise if you only have 5, 10 or 15 minutes
Of all the excuses we use to talk ourselves out of exercising, “I haven’t got enough time” must surely be one of the most frequently trotted out. It’s no great revelation that many of us are more time poor than ever, with a 2014 survey from the ABS revealing that 45% of women and 36% of men believe they’re always rushed or often pressed for time.
When we have in our heads that ‘exercising’ means getting to the gym and spending at least an hour there before heading home, it can certainly seem like a huge time commitment out of our already jam-packed days. However, the days of thinking that only a long workout session will get you results are long gone. Trent Langlands, movement specialist at Lifecycle Fitness believes a daily burst of shorter training increments is undoubtedly a more effective training regime than one or two long sessions, because “you’re more likely to give it your full effort”.
“If you manage to get a training session in every day but can only spare 20 minutes to go as hard as you can, that still adds up to a great week of training,” he says.
And yes, that means even as little as five minutes a day can give you results – but no, we’re not talking about walking up to the corner shop to get the paper. If you’ve only got a short time frame, you need to be prepared to bust a gut in the minutes you’ve got.
- Workout with Trent for free on Bodypass
“The general rule is that the shorter amount of time you have to train, the higher the intensity must be if you’re going to see any measurable results,” says Drew Starley, Director of F45 Training Sydney CBD.
“The main focus would be to raise your heart rate to within 90% of your maximum. Many people think five minutes is not a long or difficult amount of time, but let me tell you, if you’re 90% or above the whole time you’ll definitely have a rewarding and hard time with it.”
Drew recommends the best movements for achieving this would be “whole body or compound movements that involve the largest muscle groups within the body – sprinting, crawling, jumping and the dreaded burpee are all within this category.”
Within a 10-15 minute time frame, Trent recommended some sort of variation of Tabata, a specialised form of interval training that was originally devised by Japanese professor Dr. Izumi Tabata to train Olympic speed skaters.
“Tabata training basically means tempo training – short, fast periods of 100% effort followed by a short rest,” he says. “For example, 20 seconds of burpees followed by a 10 second rest, repeated seven times.”
This 20/10 ratio forces the body to start moving again before it has recovered from the previous interval, which has been found to work both aerobic and anaerobic metabolic pathways more effectively than longer bouts of exercise.
Trent explains that this is great news if you’re trying to shed kilos as well as increase your fitness.
“It skyrockets your metabolic rate, so for people who want to lose a bit of weight, it just strips you, big-time. Essentially, it keeps the motor running all day, so you’re burning fat for a lot longer.”
- Workout with Trent for free on Bodypass
Movements used in Tabata are only limited by your imagination – anything from jumping jacks to push-ups to squat jumps, to kettlebell swings or cycle sprints.
“Any sort of effort that will spike your heart rate in a short amount of time is effective, says Drew. “One of my favourites is to mark out 50 metres in the park and sprint to one end and have the walk back to the other side as the rest.”
The key is exerting yourself as hard as you possibly can during your work interval.
“You will know when you’re doing it right because you will be pushing the absolute limit of your cardiovascular threshold.”
Trent believes a five, ten or 15 minute workout is also a great way for reluctant or non-existent exercisers to ease into a regular exercise routine.
“If someone doesn’t read much, you’re not going to tell them to dig up a book with 800 pages in it, you’ll give them a 100 page book and suggest they read for 5 minutes a day. It’s the same thing with exercise, you just need to retrain the brain to do a bit more every day.”
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