Quick Workouts, Better Results

05/04/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Have you ever put off going to the gym because you didn't have the time? Can't even jog outside because that midterm you have on Tuesday demands your constant attention? This isn't Family Feud, but I'd be willing to bet that time is the number one excuse for not working out. It's a good excuse too. So much demands our attention -- school, family, friends, even your "me time."

When I complain that I don't have time to workout, I usually mean that I don't have the 1-1.5 hours I usually spend breaking a sweat. I figure it's the same for most people. This post will cover an effective workout that can be done in 10-15 minutes and still yield results.

But first, a note on workout theory. When you workout for 1 hour, you can afford to jog at a sustainable pace, elliptical (I'm using it as a verb) moderately, or cycle to the extent that you can still read a book. With the workout to follow, intensity and stress are the ruling principles. In many ways, this makes perfect sense: we are just condensing a long aerobic workout. That said, take every precaution to make certain you are in the physical shape to try this method.

HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training

The name entails the essential idea of the workout: you alternate intense training over intervals. This workout should only last for 10-15 minutes, 20 at the max. If you have any energy left after 15 minutes, you're just not doing it correctly. Apply this to any method of cardio training, like cycling, elliptical, running, calisthenics -- whatever works for you. I prefer running, so I'll describe it using that form. You'll be able to see how it applies to other methods.

1-2 minutes:

Start out with a light jog to warm up. It's always a good idea to do some quick stretches to make sure you're not stiff or cold.

10-12 minutes:

Okay, you're ready to begin intervals. Elevate your pace to a moderate level. Imagine what pace you would jog at if you had to jog for 30 minutes, and jog at that pace for 30 seconds. Then sprint as fast as you can for a minute. Then return to that jogging pace for 30 seconds. Then sprint again. Do this for the next 12 minutes. Make every effort to maintain your levels, because they tend to blur together after the third cycle.

1 minute:

Cool down at the lowest pace feasible. For about a minute, you want to walk, focus on breathing in deeply. Stretch if you need to.

You're done! If you're completely winded, bent over panting, your heart is about to break out of your chest because it's beating so hard, and you're wondering why the hell you even listened to my advice, then congratulations, you did it correctly. If not, try harder next time.

Other Benefits to HIIT

Increased RMR: A study has shown that doing HIIT will increase your Resting Metabolic Rate in the following 24 hours. In other words, you end up burning more fat while you're not exercising the next day. In some cases, HIIT increases your RMR more than a 60 minute aerobic workout.

Increase VO2: Because you're stressing your lungs on a HIIT routine, over time you will increase the volume of oxygen intake, which yields other health benefits.

Go ahead, give this workout a try if you're low on time.