4-3-2-1... Fitness!

03/12/2012 06:37 pm ET | Updated May 12, 2012

Recently I attended a professional seminar about working with overweight clients. I'm always looking for new research in this area, as it is a challenge to work around their limitations and keep these clients motivated. I got far more than tools for working with obesity, and I'm excited to share this with all of you -- no matter what your conditioning level.

The workout is The Complete 10™ -- a "fast fitness" program developed by Sean Foy, M.A. If you're still having trouble finding time for exercise, this circuit workout is what you need. It's done in 10-minute "blocks," and can be done anywhere, anytime. You can do one or more of these 10-minute blocks, either consecutively or spread throughout the day or week.

I probably have the attention of you beginning or non-exercisers, but to all you seasoned exercisers, don't skip over the rest of this article. The Complete 10™ is highly adaptable to all exercise levels and physical conditions -- from beginning to advanced exercisers, and for those who are unable to get out of a chair. In the last month I have implemented this workout with various clients and find that I'm able to get more out of those who are difficult to motivate while also challenging those who are advanced exercisers. They're more willing to work harder because the segments -- even the high-intensity ones -- are so brief. My clients tell me that this workout is exhilarating and more interesting because it's constantly changing and fast-moving -- keeping boredom at bay.

Here's how it's done. The first four minutes of the circuit are devoted to cardiovascular exercise, broken down into alternating 30 seconds of higher-intensity exercise with 30 seconds of lower-intensity exercise. For advanced clients, I break the segments down into one-minute intervals. You can choose any cardio activity you enjoy, like marching in place, walking, jump roping, rowing, cycling, stair climbing, etc. For either 30 seconds or one minute, move as fast as you can without losing good form, then for the next 30 seconds or one minute, exercise at a moderate pace. During the high-intensity segments you'll sweat like crazy, recovering and catching your breath during the lower-intensity segment. Alternating these segments allows you to work harder because it's easier to handle, both physically and mentally.

The next part is three minutes of strength training -- three strength exercises for one minute each. Choose exercises that are "compound" exercises -- exercises that train more than one muscle group simultaneously. I like exercises that combine the use of larger and smaller muscle groups, upper and lower body at the same time. It's effective and time-efficient, and it's how our bodies function in our everyday activities. We don't isolate one muscle at a time when we move, so it makes sense to train the way we move on a daily basis. Also, these kinds of exercises boost metabolism, or the rate at which we burn calories. Muscle is metabolically active tissue -- the more you have, the more calories you burn 24/7 -- not just while we're working out! Not a bad deal, right?

Now the third segment of the circuit, core-strengthening. Do two core exercises for one minute each, focusing on abdomen, hips and lower back. Perform the maximum repetitions in 60 seconds maintaining good form. These are important exercises because your core is the center of your power. The strength of your extremities is relative to the strength of your core. The stronger your core, the stronger you are overall. Furthermore, a strong core helps prevent back problems and improves posture.

We're almost there! The last minute consists of one minute of stretching and deep breathing. Don't skip this part! This is when you oxygenate your brain and muscles -- reducing stress and fatigue both mentally and physically. Stretching reduces lactic acid buildup, decreasing next-day soreness and stiffness. My clients tell me how surprised they are at what little soreness they experience after a good workout. Stretching makes a difference, improving flexibility, posture, balance and range of motion.

Now that you know how The Complete 10™ workout is done, let me educate you on WHY it works. It makes you burn more calories for a longer time -- plain and simple. Because of the "heat" you create, when you finish, your body requires oxygen at a higher rate than before, continuing to burn calories. This is the "after-burn," or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Your body uses this oxygen to return to its pre-exercise state. The more intense the workout, the more calories you burn afterwards -- up to 48 hours! In fact, as indicated in a study by Dr. Angelo Tremblay at the Physical Activities Sciences Laboratory at Laval University in Quebec, Canada, most of the fat-burn resulting from higher intensity exercise occurs after -- not during the workout. Add to that the fat-reducing benefit in the bloodstream, as is explained by Dr. Len Kravitz. You could say you get a great return on a small investment of time! Sign me up!

Regardless of your present level of conditioning, this exercise format can work for you. It can be done by the physically disabled sitting in a chair or implemented by a seasoned athlete. One of my clients recently gave birth and is faced with an unpredictable schedule. She is able to do at least one 10-minute block while baby naps -- sometimes more. It's a great way to reap the health benefits of exercise while being time- and effort-efficient.

Implement your favorite exercises into this format, or get a copy of Sean Foy's book, The 10-Minute Total Body Breakthrough, for exercise ideas and nutritional education. Also, try using my BodyWorksBand for strength. Either way, you have the potential to get into great shape no matter what the demands of your daily life are. I hope you'll give it a try -- because you're worth it.

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