Let’s face it: Longer sweat sessions just aren’t an option some days. Yet doing something is always better than doing nothing — and a workout doesn’t need to be lengthy to be effective.
“A good workout is about the effort and consistency you put into it, not necessarily the time devoted to it,” says StaiSean Lyew, coach and group fitness performer at Life Time Bergen County and The Shops at Riverside, both located in New Jersey.
Here, Lyew and three other Life Time performers share their top tips for maximizing your workouts when you’re just trying to squeeze them in.
Lyew (@staisean) is a coach and group fitness performer at Life Time Bergen County in Montvale, N.J., and Life Time The Shops at Riverside in Hackensack, N.J. He teaches Core Blast, as well as GTX and Ultra Fit signature group training classes. Find his classes on the in-club schedule.
1. Opt for a full-body workout.
When I’m short on time, I like to do a full-body workout that includes compound movements. These exercises use more than one muscle group at a time. Take a thruster, for example: A thruster combines a front squat with an overhead press, working muscles in your upper- and lower-body and core.
2. Consider a strength-cardio combo.
In between rounds of a strength routine, hop on a cardio machine or perform a body-weight movement that elevates your heart rate. Choices can include bursts on the treadmill, bike, rower, or skier, or movements such as burpees or jumping jacks.
Genao (@sheilagenao_) is a group fitness performer who teaches at Life Time Dumbo in Brooklyn, N.Y., Life Time Westchester in West Harrison, N.Y., and Life Time Florham Park and Life Time Berkeley Heights, both in New Jersey. She teaches ARORA Dance, Dance Jam, Zumba, and Aqua Zumba. Find her classes on the in-club schedule or live-stream schedule.
3. Pick the best time.
Choose the time of day that you know is best for you to achieve a short workout with little to no interruptions — and then block it on your calendar! Busy days make it easy to push off to-dos, so you want to have your workout scheduled in, even if that time is as little as 10 minutes. (Try this: “The 6-Minute Sweat Workout.”)
4. Gauge your energy level.
Choose a workout based on how you’re feeling instead of trying to force yourself to do something you think you “should” but that doesn’t feel right. Maybe that looks like a solo full-body workout, feeding off the energy of others in a group fitness class, or getting outside for a walk or short run. (See more: “Fitness Classes for Your Feelings.”)
5. Acknowledge your efforts.
Don’t let negativity enter your mindset: It doesn’t matter if your workout is five minutes, 20 minutes, or an hour — you showed up today! Every step is a step closer to a healthier life.
Head (@austin_head) is a 5-Star ELI group fitness performer at Life Time Dumbo in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Life Time 23rd Street, Life Time One Wall Street, Life Time Sky (Manhattan), and Life Time Midtown in New York City. He teaches EDG cycle, Gluteus Maxout, Kettlebell Kombine, and Upper RX, as well as GTX, Alpha, Ultra Fit, and MB360 signature group training classes. Find his classes on the in-club schedule or live-stream schedule.
6. Put your phone on do not disturb.
Avoid the common pitfall of using your phone during your workout. Not only can this hamper the effectiveness of your workout, but it also prevents you from experiencing the full mental benefits of your exercise session.
7. Incorporate supersets.
If you’re aiming for a comprehensive full-body strength workout within a limited timeframe, supersets are your go-to strategy. By performing exercises back-to-back with minimal rest, you can accomplish a lot in a short span of time.
Optimal supersets involve alternating push and pull muscle groups. For example, combine exercises like the chest press with a deadlift to row, or dumbbell front squats with pull-ups.
8. Curate an energizing playlist.
Personally, I find my best workouts coincide with the perfect playlist. Look for DJ sets with mashups, often available on platforms like YouTube or SoundCloud. These 30- to 45-minute sets can help keep your energy levels high and power you through your workouts.
Chapman (@chris_chapman5) is a studio leader at Life Time in Edina, Minn. She teaches AMP cycle, Barbell Strength, Cardio Kickboxing, Ringside, and SHRED, as well as GTX signature group training classes. Find her classes on the in-club schedule or live-stream schedule.
9. Have a plan.
Heading into your workout prepared is key. When time is limited, you don’t want to waste it the limited minutes you have deciding what to do. Consider creating your own routine that works multiple muscle groups and focuses on intensity over duration. Or reserve your spot in a 30- to 45-minute group fitness class — that way the instructor does the planning for you.