For some reason I am hearing more and more about 5 minute circuits, 3 minute arms, 6 minute abs, 10 minute workouts, 4 minute fat loss, etc. It's starting to sound like hype, like the latest ab gadget everyone wants in January each year, that you can only get on TV for 3 payments of $19.95 - but wait! Call now...
If you could assign a number of minutes to body parts to make the fat go away what would your assignment look like? I'd look a little like this: 8 minute arms, 5 minute chest, 30 minute abs, 20 minute glutes, 20 minute thighs and 0 minute calves. (Only because my calves are 14-15 inches no matter what I weigh!).
This language of only taking minutes to workout is powerful because it plays on our emotions. We tend to hope there is an easy, quick answer to losing fat and chiseling our abs. Let's face it, for most of us, the weight crept up, something happened to suddenly make us aware of it and we want to get it off, and fast! I tend to think dropping weight fast is not ideal, but the good news is an effective workout can literally take only minutes. Our real assignment is to separate the junk workouts from the real ones.
That's tricky because unfortunately the language is being used by both sides - the ineffective, hype products as well as some reputable, successful approaches. The key is going to be intensity. The most obvious tell-tale sign of a poor program is if someone is telling you that you can get trim and chiseled in 5 easy minutes a day. Run the other direction.
Signs that a 3-10 minute workout is legitimate might be if it is:
- one part of a comprehensive program
- interval training
- timed circuit training
- a quick, add-on workout to a structured program
- a high intensity finisher to a resistance training workout
What do I mean by comprehensive program? I believe a comprehensive program for fat loss is a detailed, structured training plan that includes various methods of resistance training, specific metabolic work, interval training, additional conditioning and cardio if needed, nutrition guidelines and a maintenance plan.
Here are some examples of short workouts that make sense:
Interval training: 30 seconds hard work followed by 30 seconds recovery for 10 rounds (10 minutes).
Circuit training: 6 bodyweight exercises, performed consecutively for 30 seconds each, followed by 30 seconds rest for a total of 3 rounds (10 minutes)
Timed supersets: 2 exercises alternated and performed for a pre-determined number of reps to accomplish as many sets as possible in 5 minutes.
Quick workout: a 5-10 minute full body workout encouraging extra workout time for those needing to increase daily activity overall.
Finisher: Kettlebell snatches alternating sides every 10 reps for a total of 5 minutes without stopping.
You can probably think of many more examples. Keep your head clear, don't fall for what seems to be an easy way out. Look for legitimate programs that appropriately acknowledge the work it takes to achieve fat loss. Remember to look for signs of intensity and examine programs closely before commiting!
If you'd like to check out my previous post on choosing a workout, click here.