3 Short Intense Workouts (Minimal Equipment)

The #1 reason people give for not being able to exercise is “NOT ENOUGH TIME. Here are 3 short, intense workouts that are 30 minutes or less.  30 minutes amounts to only 2% of your day! The key is to bring the focus and intensity to each session and be consistent to see results.

All 3 workouts use only a treadmill and dumbbells.  The first 2 are centered on muscle building and begin with 10 minutes cardio followed by 20 minutes of dumbbell exercises. The last workout is less than 30 minutes and blends cardio with short muscle segments for more of a fat loss emphasis. Give one a try and tell me what you think.

Workout #1: Treadmill & Legs

Treadmill for 10 minutes

  • Begin with 10 minutes of cardio on the treadmill. You can also use any other type of cardio equipment, such as the bike, elliptical, or stairs.
  • You will need two sets of dumbbells for the muscle segment that follows (one heavy and one light).
  • Adjust incline or speed up or down to accommodate your fitness level

 

Exercise Time Speed Incline
Walk 1 minute

4.0

2

Jog 1 minute

5.0

3

Jog 1 minute

5.5

4

Run 1 minute

6.5

5

Run *45 seconds

7.0

5

Walk *45 seconds

4.0

5

*Repeat the above 90 second interval (last two 45 second segments) until you have reached 10 minutes total on the treadmill 

Leg Circuit: 20 minutes

  • Do the exercises in the order listed below.
  • 5 exercises circuited 3 times for 20 minutes
  • If you finish too quickly increase weight, sets, or reps. If you are unable to complete all 3 rounds in 20 minutes, decrease weight or reps.
Exercise Reps Instructions
Walking Lunges 20 steps (10 ea. leg) Dumbbells held at your sides (weight is optional)
Bench step ups 10 each leg Dumbbells held at your sides (weight is optional)
Squat jumps 10 reps Can do pulsing squats if you don’t want to jump
Sumo Squat 15 reps Holding 1 single heavy dumbbell between the legs
Glute Bridges 10 full range reps followed by 10 pulsing reps Holding 1 single dumbbell at the hips

Workout #2: Treadmill & Shoulders

Treadmill for 10 minutes

Exercise Time Speed Incline
Incline walk 1 minute

4.0

6

Incline walk 1 minute

4.0

7

Incline walk 1 minute

4.0

8

Incline walk 1 minute

4.0

9

Incline walk 1 minute

4.0

10

Incline walk 1 minute

3.8

11

Incline walk 1 minute

3.8

12

Incline Walk 1 minute

3.7

13

Incline walk 1 minute

3.5

14

Incline walk 1 minute

3.5

15

Shoulder Circuit: 20 minutes

Exercise Reps Instructions
Overhead Shoulder Press 10 reps Seated palms facing forward
Front Raise 10 reps Standing, elbows have a slight  micro-bend
Rear delt reverse fly 10 reps Seated, chest to knees, slight bend in elbows
Lateral Raises 10 reps Use your heavier weight
Lateral Raises 10 reps Use your lighter weights

Workout #3: Cardio with Shoulders 24 minutes

  • You will need 1 set of moderate dumbbells positioned near your treadmill.
  • You will be getting on and off the treadmill
Exercise Time Speed Incline
Incline Walk 1 minute

4.0

5

Incline jog 1 minute

5.0

8

Incline run 1 minute

6.0

8

Incline walk 1 minute

4.0

5

Off Treadmill: Squat to Shoulder Press 1 minute
Off Treadmill: Push-ups 1 minute
Incline walk 1 minute

4.0

6

incline run 1 minute

6.0

8

incline run 1 minute

7.0

8

Incline Walk 1 minute

4.0

6

Squat to Overhead Shoulder Press off the treadmill 1 minute
Push ups off the treadmill 1 minute
*Incline walk 1 minute

4.0

8

*Incline run 1 minute

6.0

8

*Incline run 1 minute

7.0

8

*Incline Walk 1 minute

4.0

8

*Squat to Overhead Shoulder Press off the treadmill 1 minute
*Push ups off the treadmill 1 minute

*Repeat the last 6 minutes of the cardio muscle segment above to conclude with a total of 24 minutes. 

High Volume Workout: Effort is the Key

There are several methods of training which are effective and will yield results if the correct amount of effort is employed. The truth is the human body simply will not change without true effort. Progressive overload is the key to this improvement. This is a gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise. Basically, you are increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system in order to gain muscle endurance, size, or strength. This may involve manipulating the amount of weight, repetitions, sets, and rest to increase the intensity of the exercise and force your muscles to work harder than they are used to. Continue reading

Why I Love the Sauna

It is no secret that I enjoy the sauna after my workout. Here are five reasons that I love the sauna.

 

  • Relief of joint pain. I was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and have found that the sauna eases the pain and stiffness, as well as lifting some of the fatigue associated with flare ups. This is due to an increase in the release of anti-inflammatory compounds such as noradrenaline, adrenaline, cortisol and growth hormones, as well as an increase in positive stress on the body, causing it to release natural pain-killing endorphins. A recent Finnish study in the American Journal of Medicine found that saunas can improve joint mobility in those with rheumatic disease.
  • Healthy heart and lower death rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke. A study tracked more than 2,000 Finnish men for nearly 20 years on average. Most used saunas at least once weekly. Those who used them four to seven times weekly received the greatest survival benefits. The study showed it lowers blood pressure and is good for the blood vessels.  The higher temperatures push heart rates to a rate that is often reached when performing moderate intensity physical exercise. This is not to indicate that sitting in the sauna is a substitute for exercise, but it is a good supplement to a consistent workout program. Of course, this study only looked at men. Thus the exact benefits for women has not been thoroughly researched.

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  • Possible increase in athletic performance. A study conducted by the University of Otago in New Zealand found that male distance runners who did three weeks of post-training saunas increased their run time to exhaustion. This was attributed to an increase in blood and plasma volume from using the sauna. However, keep in mind benefits occurred over a period of time rather than immediately following the sauna use. As with exercise fatigue, leg strength and muscle endurance is lower immediately following sauna exposure.

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  • Detoxification of the body from chemicals and environmental pollutants and boosting the immune system. The body is effective at eliminating toxins via the skin, but this only works if you make your body sweat. Many of us sit in air-conditioned indoor environments all day. We then go to gyms with temperature control where it can be more difficult to really sweat. A sauna can purify the body from the inside out, eliminating compounds such as PCB’s, metals and toxins that are stored in fat cells.
  • Softer skin. When your body begins to produces a deep sweat, the rate at which dead skin cells are replaced can be increased. Also, heavy sweating helps to remove bacteria out of the epidermal layer of the skin and the sweat ducts. The cleansing of pores causes increased capillary circulation, giving the skin a softer appearance. When you sweat, fluid is moved to the skin delivering nutrient and mineral-rich fluids to fill spaces around the cells, increasing firmness.

 

 

Sauna Facts

  • The history of the Finnish Sauna dates back to 1112. These saunas were dug in the ground and considered to be holy places like churches where even babies were born.
  • There are more saunas than cars in Finland.  The Finns consider their weekly sauna as a necessity.
  • A famous Finnish proverb says, “Build the sauna. Then the house.”
  • Most Finnish businesses have their own company sauna, as does the Parliament House, the Finnair lounge in the Helsinki airport, the Pyhasalmi zinc and copper mine ( its 4600 feet underground), every home, summer cottage, and apartment building.
  • When Finns travel, they bring their sauna. Those serving in the UN Peace Corps build tent saunas at every base. The western Finland town of Teuva, holds a mobile sauna rally every year where saunas are built into telephone booths, farm equipment, old cars and even on the back of bikes.
  • According to Finnish folklore, there is a sauna elf called a saunatonttu that is rumored to be magical.

saunatonttu_by_marjo_san-d6u87d9

Is there anyone who should not use the sauna?

Saunas are generally safe when used appropriately according to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre. The general guidelines recommend avoiding extreme temperatures and staying in the sauna for an unreasonable or uncomfortable amount of time. Also, pregnant women, those with certain liver and kidney diseases, or people suffering from cardiac failure are advised to avoid sauna use. Progress slowly and allow time for your body to adjust to the heat. Always consult independently with your physician to determine if sauna use is acceptable for you.

It is recommended to drink at least half your weight in ounces of water and to be careful not to deplete calcium, magnesium and potassium. They are the tri-salts that are essential to a healthy detoxification.

Sauna etiquette

The sauna should be a place to reduce stress. Reconsider loud music, political discussions, and other controversial issues.

References:

Beth Shapouri. Reviewed by John Varga, MD and Michael H. Welsman, MDHealth Monitor: Soothe your Rheumatoid Arthritis Aches. April 2013.

Beverly Merz. Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School. Sauna Use Linked to Longer Life, Fewer Heart Problems. Feb. 2015.

Keast ML, Adamo KB. The Finnish sauna bath and its use in patients with cardiovascular disease. J Cardiopulm Rehabil. 2000 Jul-Aug;20(4):225-30.

School of Medicine and Public Health: Sauna Induced Sweating Offers Many Health Benefits. University of Wisconsin Madison. Jan. 2011

Scoon GS, Hopkins WG, Mayhew S, Cotter JD. Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners. J Sci Med Sport. 2007 Aug;10(4):259-62. Epub 2006 Jul 31.

Hedley AM, Climstein M, Hansen R. The effects of acute heat exposure on muscular strength, muscular endurance, and muscular power in the euhydrated athlete. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Aug;16(3):353-8.

 

Push-Pull Muscle System

I have trained my upper body muscles many different ways and have achieved results with each method. However, the workout split that has worked the best for me over the years has been the push-pull system. It involves training all the push muscles in one session and the pull muscles on a separate day. It allows certain muscle groups to rest completely while others are worked. This in turn lets me workout more often. Thus, I am able to train body parts multiple times a week without putting undo stress on my body.

Below is an example of one of my recent upper body push workouts:

Incline Dumbbell Chest Press: 4 sets X 15 reps

Tip: Using dumbbells instead of a barbell forces you to stabilize your shoulders and core the entire time. This balances strength on each side of your body. 

Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 4 sets X 15 reps

Tip: Keep a slight bend in the elbow. The movement will only happen at the shoulder joint and at the wrist, not at the elbow joint.

Barbell Chest Press: 3 sets X 20 reps

Tip: I used to do heavy chest presses but found that they caused me shoulder pain and I was not receiving the full benefit of the exercise. I now concentrate on maintaining a good range of motion, going higher rep , and pushing through my chest. 

Pec Dec Flyes: 3 sets X 15 reps

Tip: Pause at the top of the exercise (pads in) for a count of 3, squeezing the chest for maximum intensity.

Tricep Dips: 4 sets X 10 reps

Tip: You may use a dip assist machine, if you are new to this exercise and do not have the strength to perform it. These machines use weight to help you push your bodyweight.

Iso Lateral Shoulder Press: 4 sets X 15 reps

Tip: The Iso Press independently engages diverging and converging motions for equal strength development and muscle stimulation. Also, the back pad is angled 40 degrees for stabilization and to eliminate hyperextension of the spine. Keep tension on the muscles by not returning the weight to the stops until the set is complete.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 7 sets X 10 reps

Tip: Maintain the torso in a stationary position, lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend on the elbow and the hands slightly tilted forward as if pouring water in a glass. To keep resistance targeted to side delt, torso should be bent over slightly. 

Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Flyes: 4 sets X 15 reps

Tip: I use an alternate grip that really targets my rear deltoids. Hold the top of the dumbbell as if pouring water out of a jug, pinky fingers facing out. 

Tricep Cable Rope Push Down: 3 sets X 15 reps

Tip: A slight bend forward at the waist allows me to really hit my triceps. Remember to keep the belly in, chest up, and booty out!

Tricep Cable Bar Pressdowns: 3 sets X 15 reps

Tip: I like to use the bar in addition to the rope, because the bar allows me to push more weight. 

Decline Weighted Sit ups: 3 sets X 20 reps

Tip: I like to imagine that my abs are the only way I can lift and lower my body with stability and control.

Dial up the Intensity: Legs & Glutes

1. Emphasize functional, multi-joint exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and step-ups which target the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Isolation moves such as leg extensions and hamstring curls are good for improving definition and definitely hold a place in your leg routines. However, they should not comprise the bulk of your workout. In addition, you should train each leg muscle group from various angles for maximum muscle fiber recruitment.

2. Strengthen your core. Squats, lunges, and deadlifts all require core stability. The core is extensive including the rectus abdominis, obliques, back extensors, the lower head of the latisimus dorsi, (wings of the back), small spinal muscles, transverse abdominis, and glutes. These muscles work together to stabilize the body in space and in motion and to absorb shock during joint movement. Your body consists of a chain of intricate systems, and your core is the center of the muscular system. It controls your balance and keeps you on your feet.

3. Spend time pre and post workout foam rolling and using active release techniques. Doing so prior to your workout can aid in the prevention of injury. If you have any muscular imbalances, your body will constantly be compensating for your problem areas throughout the workout. I prepare my body for a workout session by using a foam roller on my calves and the outside of the IT band. I prefer the weight of a 10lb medicine ball for my adductors and the small Lacrosse Ball for treating specific glute and hip areas which affect my lower back. The small area of the Lacrosse Ball really allows the user to pinpoint the pain and release trigger points. When used before and after training, the Lacrosse Ball aids in preventing soreness as well.

This workout combines multi-joint exercises with isolation movements. Give it a try on your next leg day. However, be sure to adjust and modify according to your fitness level. Many of these exercises require a certain degree of core strength and muscle endurance.

Superset:

  1. Squats on Smith Machine or Squat Bar: 4 sets X 12-15 reps  If you are uncomfortable with using the squat rack, try the Smith Machine.  When doing squats, you do not want all your mental focus to be on the weight on your back. This can affect your ability to engage the proper muscles. The Smith Machine offers a more comfortable alternative. 
  2. Smith Machine Sumo Squats: 4 sets X 15 reps  Use a wide stance.

 

 

IMG_1556

Superset:

  1. Leg Press: 3 sets  X 20 reps
  2. Smith Machine Split Bulgarian Squat/Single Leg Squat: 3 set X 12 reps

 

Hex Bar Deadlift (targets more quadriceps but engages less lower back, if you have back issues) OR Barbell or Smith Machine Stiff-Legged Deadlift (uses more hamstrings and glutes): 3 sets X 10-12 reps

 

Superset:

  1. Prone Hamstring Curls: 4 sets X 12-15 reps
  2. Hip/Glute Thrusts on the hamstring machine: 4 sets X 15 reps

IMG_1583

 

Cable Glute Kickbacks: 3 sets X 15 reps

 

Finisher: Weighted Tire Pushes Or Plate Pushes (not shown) Stay low to the ground. Strongly engage your abdominal muscles. Make your legs and glutes do the majority of the work and not your arms. 

 

 

Metabolic Conditioning for Goals

The term metabolic conditioning has been used frequently in the fitness industry and can be difficult to understand. It is not just a series of random exercises combined in a circuit. Rather, metabolic conditioning refers to work and rest periods that are strategically planned to condition the muscles to better use the fuel delivered to them by improving the efficiency of the different energy systems of the body. The desired reaction is usually reached by manipulating the work and rest periods during a workout in order to achieve a certain goal, such as a muscular physique, endurance sports, or power.  For example, someone wanting to lose weight and gain lean muscle will have a different work to rest ratio than someone training to run a marathon.

Metabolism is the process whereby we break down food for energy using three different pathways. First, there is the immediate system or creatine phosphate pathway which is the fastest and most powerful method for obtaining energy. This is mainly used when performing powerful exercises that are less than 10 seconds, such as sprinting or Olympic power lifting. Recovery time for this system is three to five minutes. Secondly, there is the intermediate system or glycolytic pathway which provides energy for activities lasting more than four minutes (weightlifting or mid-distance runs). This system takes one to three minutes of recovery. Finally, there is the long duration or aerobic system which provides energy for hours of moderate intensity work and allows for recovery in seconds. During the course of a workout, each system is contributing. However, your goal during a metabolic conditioning circuit is to develop the efficiency of one of the three energy systems to improve your performance and physique.

When developing your ideal metabolic conditioning workout, you must first determine your goal. If you are training for a long distance triathlon, you would target the aerobic system by performing a long circuit with minimal rest periods . However, if your goal is to compete in power lifting, you will want to focus on the immediate pathway by doing short powerful intervals with longer rest periods. Regardless of your goal, you will want to have the intensity of the work duration high enough to achieve results.

Below are two examples of workouts that would focus on specific goals using the various metabolic pathways:

Example 1: Sports Performance: Intermediate system or Glycolytic Pathway. Work ratio 1:2  Be sure to make each work period intense enough to require the full 40 seconds of rest. Perform the circuit 2-3 times

  • Kettlebell Swings 20 seconds.

Rest 40 seconds

  • Kettlebell Cleans 20 seconds

Rest 40 seconds

  • Kettlebell Push-Press 20 seconds

Rest 40 seconds

  • Full Kettlebell Turkish OR Half Turkish Get ups 20 seconds

Repeat for a total of 2 to 3xs

 

Example 2: Endurance Performance: Aerobic System. Tabata Intervals of 20 seconds work followed by 10 seconds rest.  Repeat each interval-rest sequence 8xs.

  • Kettlebell Alternating Swings: 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. Repeat a total of 8xs
  • TRX Chest Press: 20 seconds on. 10 seconds rest. 8xs
  • Kettlebell Clean & Press: 20 seconds on. 10 seconds rest. 4xs each side
  • TRX Rows: 20 seconds on. 10 seconds rest. 8xs

References:

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Figure 4. 23(3):800-806, May 2009. Long-Term Athletic Development- Part 1: A Pathway for All Youth

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2015 – Volume 29 – Issue 5 – p 1439–1450. Long-Term Athletic Development- Part 1: A Pathway for All Youth

Len Kravitz, Ph.D, Nick Beltz, M.S., Jonathan N. Mike, M.S. (2014). University Of New Mexico: Anaerobic Metabolic Conditioning. 

Jeremy Duvall. Men’s Fitness: Metabolic Conditioning: The Key to Better Performance. 

Justin Grinnell,. Muscle & Fitness: 5 Keys to Metabolic Conditioning. 

 

Training Back: Width & Thickness

Image

 

When training the back muscles, it is important to include a variety of exercises to achieve both width and thickness. Here are a few different exercises to try on your next workout.

Cable Lat Pull Downs: 4 sets X 12-15 reps

Using the Precor cable pull down machine with handles allows you to focus more on unilateral development. Grasp the handles and pull the cables down with your palms facing forward and the elbows back.

Tips: Lift the chest as you lower the handles and squeeze the shoulder blades together.  Hold and squeeze at the point of contraction, and release it back up slowly. Make sure to extend fully to the top for a full stretch.

 

Lying T-bar Rows:  3 sets X 12 reps

These are great for adding thickness to your inner back. They are challenging, so hit them early in your workout.

Lift the bar off the rack and extend your arms in front of you.  As you exhale slowly pull the weight up and squeeze your back at the top of the movement.  Inhale and slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position.

Tips: Keep the upper arms as close to the torso as possible in order to better engage the back muscles. Do not lift your body off of the pad at any time. Also try not to use the biceps when lifting the weight.

 

Hammer Strength Iso Lateral High Row: 4 sets X 12 reps

These work the muscles of the upper and middle back (trapezius, rhomboids, and rear deltoids), as well as the latissimus dorsi (for the width of the back). This plate loaded machine also allows you to develop and strengthen both sides of the body equally.

Grasp the handles with an overhand grip and pull down and back lowering the handles toward the seat. Try to keep your chest on the pad. Slowly return to the starting position.

Tips: Maintain good posture throughout the full movement. When pulling back, bring the elbows behind the back for a good squeeze of the back muscles. When returning to the starting position, be sure to fully extend your arms and stretch to the top.

Reverse Grip Machine Rows: 3 sets X 12 reps

Reverse grip rows will incorporate the lower lat fibers, as well as recruiting the middle back and rear deltoids.

Grasp the lower handles with the palms facing up (underhand grip). The chest pad should be in line with the top of the chest. Pull the weight toward your body, squeeze the shoulder blades together toward the end of the range of motion, and return the weight back to the starting position with control.

Tips: When pulling back, keep a neutral wrist and concentrate on allowing your back muscles to do the work. Biceps will be recruited, but the focus should be on your back.

 

Divergent Lat Pull Down: 4 sets X 12-15 reps

Lat pull downs are excellent for creating width in the back. The divergent lat pull down machine is similar to a traditional lat pull down. However the handles move further apart as you pull down, providing a fuller range of motion through the lats.

Pull the bar down toward your chest drawing your elbows back as far as possible. Hold and squeeze at the point of contraction, and extend back up slowly.

Tips: Lift the chest as you pull the handles down. Relax the grip and move the focus to your lats, rather than your forearms or biceps. Be sure to extend fully to the top range of motion to allow for a good stretch through the lats.

 

Superset: Perform 15 reps of both exercises straight through without resting. Rest 30-45 seconds between each set. 3 sets X 15 reps

These exercises isolate the muscles are good finishers to your back workout.

Attach a rope to a high pulley and make your weight selection.

  • Rope Straight-Arm Cable Pulldowns (isolation move for the lats): Stand a couple of feet back from the pulley and take the rope with both hands. Lean forward from the hips, keeping your back straight, with your arms extended up in front of you.
    Keeping your arms straight, extend the shoulders to pull the rope down to your thighs. Pause at the bottom of the motion, squeezing your lats. Return to the starting position.
  •  Face pulls: (for the rear deltoids and middle back) Facing a high pulley with a rope, pull the weight directly towards your face, separating your hands as you do so. Keep your upper arms parallel to the ground.