All of us are pressed for time. Between work, family, social obligations and finding time for ourselves it's hard to find the time to fit in a good workout. I get asked this question a lot.
"How long do I need to train in order to see some benefits?"
That is a tough question to answer without knowing the person and having a good understating of their goals as well as their current level of fitness. With that being said, I want to share with you three of my "go to workouts" when I am pressed for time.
Workout No. 1: Hill Repeats
When I think of hill repeats I think of Walter Payton wearing a "Roos" headband crushing hills while other guys are lagging behind sucking wind. Athletes have been running hills for years but it's that image in my head that motivates me to get out and run up and down a hill. Hill running is a great way to get ready for speed training and harder workouts that will happen down the road. It's a great way to "strength train" your legs without the weights. Here is one workout you can try. Ideally you would run on a soft surface but if you are unable to find a gradual soft hill you can run these on the street.
Week 1: 5 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 60 seconds)
Week 2: 6 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 50 seconds)
Week 3: 7 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 45 seconds)
Week 4: 8 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 35 seconds)
Week 5: Omit. No hill running this week.
Note: Start with a gradual hill with a slight incline. If you are a beginner do not go and find the steepest hill in the neighborhood. Find a gradual climb and start with five (5) runs and progress to eight (8) over a four (4) week period. As you get stronger increase the work time until you reach 45-60 seconds.
Workout No. 2: Kettlebell circuit
Just for the record I am not a kettlebell guy. I am not certified by any organization; however, I really enjoy using kettlebells with the athletes and my clients. It's simply one of the many 'tools' that I have in my toolbox to help people obtain their desired results. I think with the proper coaching they can add tremendous value to your training program.
Please note that I would recommend that you work with a qualified coach who can assess/screen you and can teach you the basics of how to use kettlebells. Like all strength training exercises start light and perfect your form before progressing to heavier weight.
Set the timer for 10 minutes and perform the following circuit. Rest as much as you need to in order to maintain good form.
Kettlebell swings: five (5) reps
In order to do a proper swing you must learn how to hinge at your hips. The mistake most people make is that they squat instead of hinge. Let your legs do the work and guide the "bell" with your arms.
Kettlebell goblet squat: five (5) reps
Hold the kettlebell close to your body and squat as deep as you comfortable can. Push the knees out, keep your chin tucked and stand tall at the finish of the movement. Don't allow the weight to drift to far from your body.
Push-ups: ten (10) reps
Maintain a flat back, elbows in and push away at the finish. If you are unable to do a full push up than drop to your knees and perform a modified version.
Rest for 15-30 seconds depending on your fitness level. Repeat for 10 minutes. At the end of ten minutes record the amount of the completed rounds and the weight lifted.
Workout No. 3: Head to the park
If you don't belong to a gym but you want to challenge yourself, head to your local park and give this circuit a try.
If you do this workout people will look at you funny and some people will ask you what you are doing. My response is normally "I am training." The next question is normally "How are you exercising without any equipment?" to which I respond "I have all the equipment I need at a park. It's one of the best places to train."
Before you do any workouts you need to warm up properly. For some people that may be 5-10 minutes. Personally, I need 10-15 minutes to get moving. The key point to remember is when you are pressed for time there are several ways that you can train. You just need to make health a priority and stop making excuses!
Train hard and train smart!
Kevin Miller is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Philadelphia Union. He is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and has been working with the Union since their inaugural 2010 season. Check out Kevin's Instagram: @KevinMillerTraining