fitness

How to get fitter... FASTER

Image: Only got 15 minutes for a workout? Grab a skipping rope (Thinkstock) 

You get dressed, you pack your bag, you drive to the gym. You check in and put your stuff in your locker.

You work out for 45 minutes, or an hour. Then you shower, you get changed, you leave the gym and drive all the way back home again.

It sounds like a relatively simple process. But a gym trip – especially if there’s a bit of travel time involved – can snatch a good whole two hours out of your da if you’re not watching the clock closely.

Even if you’re not a gym person, a basic at-home workout can take up to an hour – if not more.

These days, not a whole lot of people have two hours that they can spend on a workout. Or maybe even an hour. We give up on exercise, because it’s simply too time-consuming – and we need to spend that time working, or studying, or looking after our kids, or even just relaxing on the couch after a long and stressful day.

The ideal solution? To try and minimise your time in the gym, so that you’re in and out of there as quickly as possible. It may sound impossible, but you can manage a really effective workout in 20 or 30 mins, if you play your cards right.

I spoke to Kirsty Welsh, a PT in Sydney, about how to get fit and do it fast. Here were her tips:

1. Change your mindset

“Everyone seems to be under this impression that a workout HAS to be an hour long,” Kirsty says. “It doesn’t! Just use whatever time you’ve got. Even 10 minutes is fine, if that’s what you have.”

The number one rule? Any workout is better than no workout at all. If you’ve only got 15 minutes, don’t give up altogether on the idea of getting sweaty – just do a whole lot of squats, push-ups and planks in your room instead of going to the gym.

“You don’t have to go to the gym or do boot camp every day,” Kirsty says. “We get so focused on this lifestyle of what society expects exercise to look like. But we need to make it realistic – we’re doing the best we can! And we need to make it fun – it should be a lifestyle!”

In other words? Don’t punish yourself because you’re not running for an hour per day. Or slaving away at the gym for a full hour per day. Do what you can, and do as much of it as is possible, then give yourself a pat on the back rather than beating yourself up.

2. Try resistance training

Weights are friends, not foe.

In terms of time-effective exercises, resistance training - also known as strength or weights training - is one of the best workouts you can do if you've only got a short period of time on offer.

"Resistance training is a big win," Kirsty says. "You're burning more calories over the long term, and that’s going to pay off, not just in that 20 min or 30 mins that you’re training in."

Use free weights, weight machines, medicine balls and your own body weight for really effective resistance training that will help with both muscle building and weight loss.

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3. Try HIIT workouts

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval workouts, and they're quickly becoming the Next Big Thing in fitness - just because of how effective they are. By combining periods of rest with periods of working out HARD, you're getting fitter - and you're doing it faster.

"The higher your intensity of working out, the more energy you’re burning in that moment," Kirsty also explains. "So, the more intensity you have, the more calories you burn."

A great option is to find a gym that offers HIIT classes that go for a shorter period of time. I go to Damien Kelly Fitness in Sydney, and it's absolutely amazing - you get the most intense, red-faced, sweaty workout and can easily be out of there in under 45 minutes. It's all circuit-style training that is efficient and highly effective.

4. Be smart about cardio

Run up stairs whenever you can

"If you want to do a cardio session, aim for maximum burn, interval-style training," Kirsty suggests. "It's higher intensity, rather than endurance training, which is at a lower level of intensity."

Kirsty suggests running up spurs and hills when outdoors if you're trying to get the most out of your workout.

At the gym? "Go on the rowing machine - it's a big calorie burner if you don’t want to do outdoor running," Kirsty says.

At home? "Go for the skipping rope!"

5. Be aware of incidental exercise

Every little bit counts. Even if you're just walking to the bus stop. Kirsty encourages everyone to get a fitness tracker and track how many steps they're getting in every single day - it's a great way to realise that even if you're not consciously working out every single day, you're probably still quite active.

Here are some of the most popular fitness trackers on the market:

6. BE FOCUSED

This is a big one if you're keen to spend minimum time in the gym.

"HAVE A PLAN! And be focused!" Kirsty says. "How many people do you see going to the gym and just wandering between equipment?"

Write down your plan, or have one ready on your phone, so that you're not wasting time thinking about what might be nice to do next. Go by yourself, and don't get distracted by chatting to random people while you're trying to lift your weights.

Also? Be prepared to swap to Plan B if needed. If someone's using the machine that you originally planned to use, Kirsty urges you to "think laterally. Pick up some dumbbells and do something else with your legs."

Do you have any suggestions for shaving time off your workout?

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