Maximize your workout, minimize your time at the gym

PHOENIX - Is it possible to spend less time at the gym and still get great results? In our busy world its a great question.

Michelle Cherrington, AFCC is a Certified Fitness Instructor here in the Valley and is known for her high energy "Ultimate Bootcamps" that help jump start gym goers back into their fitness routine. She says "Absolutely! I know that many people struggle with being motivated on the treadmill. There are so many options out there to get you moving, so make sure you find something you enjoy and do it!

The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) and AHA (American Heart Association) have stated that healthy individuals should "Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week or do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week." This 30 minute recommendation is to maintain health and reduce the risk of disease. If your goal is weight loss 60-90 minutes may be necessary" says Cherrington.

Those "vigorously intense" workouts are much more time efficient. A great example of this is interval training. "Interval training is alternating higher intensity bursts with lighter activity for recovery. For example, after warming up you could jog or run for 2 minutes and walk for one - repeating until you reach at least 20 minutes. At the end of those higher intensity intervals you should feel like you have catch your breath" says Cherrington.

Another idea is to do shorter bouts of cardio throughout the day. This may be helpful for people who are struggling to find time to exercise. Doing 10 minutes 3 times throughout the day can be just as effective as doing it all at once. Also, the ACSM recommends incorporating strength training at least twice a week. Cherrington says "There are many benefits to gaining the lean muscle mass that results from strength training. Last, but not least, be sure to save time for stretching."

So does she have 5 great exercises to help us work a lot of muscles quickly? "Of course! I think it is important to make the most of your time working out. These exercises are compound movements that will get your whole body working", says Cherrington.

1. Squat with a swing progressing into "W" (muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core and shoulders)
2. Walking lunge with bicep curl into an overhead press (muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, biceps and shoulders)
3. Side lunge into tricep kickback (muscles worked: quadriceps, glutes, inner thighs (or adductors) and triceps:
4. Hip hinge with back fly and stand with a front raise (muscles worked: lats, lower back, upper back, abs, glutes, hamstrings, calves, shoulders)
5. Pushup/Plank combination (Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, triceps, back abs, arms and legs.

What do you tell people who are trying to fit it all in? Where is the balance between working out, eating right and getting enough sleep? "Oh my, first of all I know how hard it is! Life can be crazy, but I know without a doubt that if you make your fitness and health a priority in your life you will have less stress, have more energy and feel better both physically and mentally."

Cherrington's tips for staying on track: 

1. Don't have an all or nothing approach. If you had planned on an hour at the gym and only have 20 minutes, still get moving. A little bit can go a long way. This goes for eating as well. Don't get discouraged if you get off track and eat something you know you shouldn't. Just pick up where you left off at your next meal or snack.

2. Make realistic goals for yourself so that you can celebrate being successful vs. feeling defeated.

3. Be accountable and aware of what you are doing. Chances are if you are struggling to lose weight or reach your goals there is a reason. Finding the solution is tricky. Diet, exercise and sleep all figure into the equation and finding the balance is challenging. Some ideas I encourage people to do are to keep a food diary, make sure you're getting adequate rest, and to make a weekly exercise plan that is reasonable for your schedule. Studies have shown that these tips work. If you make them habits they will help you achieve what you have set out to do.

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