Low on Time? Here's How to Work Out in a Crunch

This article, which is adapted from HIIT It!, originally appeared on DemosHealth.com.

In an ideal world, everyone would be able to set aside a 30-minute block of time to fit in their workout. This may not always be possible. So what do you do if you don’t have more than 10 minutes at a time to work out? Split it up!

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is great for busy people trying to squeeze some exercise into their day. By nature, HIIT routines include breaks and good pausing points. If you need to split up your 30 minute workout into three 10-minute bouts of intervals throughout the day (or night shift!), that’s totally fine!

A split-up workout trumps a nonexistent one, so don’t let the lack of huge time blocks deter you. If you work out in small bursts throughout the day, you’ll be burning more calories as your body works to bring itself back to a recovery state. Also, if you split up your workout, there’s a chance that you could get in a stronger one for each set since you’ve had time to rest.

Here are some other tips for maximizing your workout when you have minimal time:

  • Find out when you’re most energized.If you feel good before heading into work, set your alarm for a few minutes earlier and get in a quick workout. You’ll feel a boost of feel-good endorphins, and from my experience, will be more likely to make healthy choices for the day.
  • Put the distractions away.If you’re short on time and want a quick workout, you need to focus and put the reading away. While it’s an enjoyable way to pass the time, you’re not giving 100% to your workout.
  • Focus on clean eats.It’s often said that physical appearance is 80% nutrition, 10% genetics, and 10% exercise. I’m a believer. By eating well, even if you don’t have the opportunities to work out as often, you’ll still see dramatic results. Of course, workouts have tremendous health benefits, but they aren’t the end-all-be-all for physical results. It’s actually much easier to lose weight and fat from changes in diet than it is to out-exercise a mediocre diet. So what’s the most efficient method? Focus on both clean eating and an effective workout routine to speed up your results and create a lifestyle you can easily maintain.
  • Be patient with yourself.I can’t emphasize this enough. Stress and exhaustion are tricky beasts and will encourage your body to hold onto fat. When we become stressed, our body’s “flight or fight” response triggers a release of cortisol, a hormone that may be related to weight gain. When we’re stressed, we may tend to turn to eating more than necessary, which can cause weight gain (and that blah feeling following overindulgence). If you’re exhausted, rest. Chances are that you wouldn’t be able to get an effective workout anyway, and if you rest up, you can make your next gym session even more powerful. Be kind to yourself and listen to your body; it will tell you when it needs a break. Speaking of breaks, it’s also important to remember that rest will encourage results from your hard work. Try to avoid the spiral into over-training, which is especially easy when you’re just getting started with a new routine and want to do everything possible to obtain your goals.

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