Your Ultimate Home Fitness Program
We’re back with Part II of the ultimate home fitness program: The Alpha Fitness Program (be sure to check out Part I if you missed it). When it comes to home fitness, short, badass bouts of exercise can equate to big changes in your body! Quick, high-intensity workouts are the way to go and here’s why:
Your home fitness approach
Forty-five minutes… that’s usually the first number that comes to mind when we think about how long an average workout takes. During the course of our hectic days, 45 minutes is a large chunk of time. Don’t get me wrong, there are many people who make the time to work out, but for the beginners out there this amount of time can seem crazy-long.
“Why would I exercise for 45 minutes when Halo is calling my name?” Not the best mentality, but it runs rampant.
You probably realize you need to take the time to exercise, but instead of making time, we skip it altogether. This results in some seriously inactive couch time. Obviously, being physically inactive can result in decreased health and be even discussed at a recent American Psychological Association convention as the greatest threat to health in the 21st century. The price we pay for modern convenience, right?
Are You Active?
But how many of us are actually lounging around in our free time? Florida Atlantic University recently published some statistics that depicted how 36% of us are physically inactive during our leisure time! If we know that being inactive can be so harmful to our health, why is over 1/3 of the adult population in the United States still not getting off the couch?
Maybe it’s because we have so little free time in the first place – it truly is a valuable commodity. Many of us simply don’t want to exercise during our only free time of the day.
If we aren’t going to bust out a lengthy workout each day – which many people won’t – do we just give up on the whole exercise thing? Don’t worry, we won’t let you ditch exercise that easily because the research tells us that there may be another way. The one I’m talking about is the cumulative effects of exercise.
In other words, can exercise 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes at lunch break, and 10 minutes before bed be effective at improving your health? That’d be nice, right?
When looking at some of the research from the past few decades, we find a number of studies that depict how this can be the case. As you would expect from the research, long-term duration exercise (30+ minutes) produced positive health effects. What is interesting though is that several studies have demonstrated that just 10 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise 3 times a day can produce significant health improvements with some aspects being on par with long-duration exercise!
For instance, a study in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition in 2001 determined the cumulated effects of several short bouts of exercise (10 minutes, 3 times a day) had similar effects as one long continuous bout (30 minutes) in overweight, young women. This isn’t just about one study either, similar results have been reported by the American Heart Association (in patients with type 2 diabetes), in The American Journal of Cardiology, and in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity just to name a few.
While one continuous long bout of exercise can have great health effects, the great news for beginners is that you can more easily fit these short bouts of exercise into your daily life. Plus, a short 10-minute workout isn’t nearly as intimidating as a 45-minute killer, causing you to not only workout in the first place but actually adhere to your program in the long haul.
How much better is that than skipping exercise altogether?
Putting It Together
If you are looking to get back in the exercise saddle, then 3 short bouts of exercise (10 minutes or so) per day can be a great way to get started. It can help you slowly build up your exercise capacity and get you back in the game. One option is to simply bust out some exercise whenever you get a free minute: in the morning, during your lunch break, while skipping a conference call, before dinner, while watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory that you’ve already seen 8 times…etc.
When it comes to an overall approach that will help you burn calories and tone up, each day pick a few exercises (3-5) that work multiple muscle groups like
- Lunges with shoulder press
- Pushup rows
- Squat jumps
- Spider pushups
- Squats with shoulder press
Perform 3 sets of each for 30 seconds. Do as many repetitions as possible (with proper form) and keep it at a high intensity.
What Are Your Goals?
If you want to build muscle via home fitness (which the previous exercise will do as well), pick 2-3 exercises that work your large muscle groups like squats, deadlifts, bench press, rows…etc. and perform 3 sets of each exercise for 8-10 reps. You can alternate exercises throughout the day to get a full-body workout. For this workout make sure to use a heavier weight (but not heavy enough where you will need a spotter – that would defeat the purpose) and really concentrate on form! Once again, have minimal rest periods to keep the workout at high intensity the entire time.
Finally, for all of you athletes out there that want to improve your endurance, the same principles still apply! Need to improve or maintain your endurance for soccer, flag football, basketball…etc? Pick a few cardio exercises (3-5) such as jumping jacks, box jumps, jump rope, basketball shuffles…etc. and perform these for 3 sets of 30 seconds each.
Push yourself to the max once again (it’s all about high intensity) and you can achieve great results!
For all of these workouts, make sure you are cleared by your doctor and keep them at a high intensity. While you won’t see incredible results in a week, these short bouts of exercise 3 times a day can help you burn calories, build muscle, improve your cardiovascular health, and improve your overall health instead of skipping your workout altogether!
Look, we all are busy…
This article isn’t trying to get you to exercise less; in fact it’s the trying to do the opposite for those waiting to get back in the game.
If it’s been a while since you exercised or are just literally starting and don’t feel like you can find the time, start by concentrating on 10 minutes chunks of exercise 3 times a day. This will help you adhere to your workout program and help you ditch those time commitment issues.
It’s time to make this the year you accomplish your goals – we know you can!
Be sure to go back and check out Part I of the Alpha home fitness program and come back for part 3 where we tackle nutrition!
American Heart Association. Short bursts of high-intensity exercise do more for type 2 diabetes. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2015.
DeBusk RF, Stenestrand U, Sheehan M, Haskell ML. (1990) Training effects of long versus short bouts of exercise in healthy subjects. The American Journal of Cardiology, 65(15): 1010-1013.
Florida Atlantic University. “Sobering Statistics on Physical Inactivity in the U.S..” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 2015.
Jakicic JM, Wing RR, Butler BA, Robertson RJ. (1995) Prescribing exercise in multiple short bouts versus one continuous bout: effects on adherence, cardiorespiratory fitness, and weight loss in overweight women. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 19(12): 893-901.
Schmidt WD, Biwer CJ, Kalscheuer LK. (2001) Effects of long versus short bout exercise on fitness and weight loss in overweight females. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 20(50): 494-501.
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