Friday, December 12, 2014

Time saving techniques for getting strong, fit and awesome.

In today's busy lifestyle, we tend to get caught up with our day to day duties & forget to take care of ourselves.  I frequently have patients report an inability to come in to get relief from their ailments, when we do catch up we find that one of the reasons their condition has not improved is they have not found time to do their "self care" exercises and their condition has degraded.  The purpose for the self care exercises is to allow them to continue improving on their own-when there's no time for even that, you know people are busy.  It seems as if we're all in the same boat, especially during this hectic holiday season.  The workout is the first thing cut, ironically meal making is a close second.  According to WebMD many put an average of 1.5 lbs. of fat on during the holidays .

Several factors determine your ability to keep on track of your fitness goals;  the two main are diet & activity.  You can read my past posts on diet here and here. Activity would include daily living activities and exercise. While we should all increase the amount we take the stairs vs. the elevator, let's consider exercise in this situation. Staying on track with your exercise regiment during busy times depends on a) how long it takes to work out, b) how long it takes you to get to your gym or work out spot and c) ability to continue without injury. With so few factors that we can influence there's really only one thing we can control; how long and hard do we work out. A recurrent theme in this blog is doing more with less. In this case it's time, so here are some great ways to minimize time and maximize results. 

Pull ups either assisted with a band or performed independently

Diagonal hops in place

In a superset alternate muscle groups(push/pull or upper body/lower body) are worked with low rest intervals(~30 sec.). The superset may be popular but there's room for improvement. Those who know my blog will recall Strength from the ground up this involves compound movement (i.e. squat, lunge, step up).  Using concepts such as compound movement and plyometrics (i.e.hops, jumps, throws) you will alternate the types of muscle used and the type of energy used (creatine vs. glucose). This type of superset will allow you to recover in the lower body & strengthen the upper body, then switch that on your alternate days. Three strength exercises and two plyometric exercises for 3 to 4 sets should get the job done for medium level enthusiast. Form is always important and performing bad repetitions reinforces bad patterns so work until you see your form suffer then stop. Below are examples of exercise that could be an alternate workout.
Wall ball squat throw (plyometric)

Overhead squat (compound strength)

VO2 Max
Another way of getting the most bang for your exercise buck would be a VO2 max workout. This type challenges your aerobic system and is one of the best calorie burners you can perform when time is a factor.  Your body is consuming the maximum amount of oxygen in this workout so it burns the largest amount of calories. 
It's a challenging workout, but it can be modified and scaled back according to your exercise level. It's a superior workout  not only challenging the aerobic system (so it's heart smart), but strengthening the muscles as well (anaerobic).  The rest intervals are  shorter than supersets (~15 sec.) and the exercise performed is done for the same amount of time (~15 sec.). 
Exercise selection is important with this type of workout, it must be a compound exercise- Kettle bells are a great choice. Those who are interested in picking a great postural reinforcing exercise should check Kettle bell training out here. This workout can be performed for 15 to 30 minutes and in some of the more elite athletes up to an hour which would burn approximately 1600 calories (half a pound of fat)!

Body weight blast

The body weight blast is a simple workout but only in theory. It's one to three exercises performed as fast as you can with the only rest period being absolutely what you need. Any compound exercise will do.
A nice example is the burpee; (pictures below)
squat thrust,
another squat thrust,
back to standing,
end with a jump.

Another variant could include a circuit like this;
Squat Jump,
Kettle bell swing 
end with a push-up.
Start with 20 reps, then 19, 18 all the way down to 5. This is an amazingly hard workout sure to wipe you out quick and burn an enormous amount of calories. These types of workouts are frequently put on in group exercise classes at places like CrossFit, we have done some work with the cross-fit organization  here in West Chester  & found them to be knowledgeable, amazing, motivating & fun.
Squat thruster or Burpee

Kettlebell swing courtesy of Pavel

Bottoms up push up
As mentioned before; time can be our greatest challenge, especially during the holiday season! With child, work and home obligations it's easy to see how we all treat our work outs like step children.  These are just a few of the intensity workouts. You're only limited by your imagination, but feel free to explore my blog & check out the links to learn more! As always, please share this with a friend if you think it may benefit them.

 Today we provided principles, so you can adapt your own protocols, don't hesitate to contact us with questions. 
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Dr. Serafim is a Rehabilitation and a Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He lives and works in the Exton PA area and has devoted himself to furthering his understanding of movement related disorders. He teaches continuing education and operates a private practice. More information can be found at and feel free to like us at our facebook page.