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There are many ways to still get an excellent workout in less than 30 minutes. You don’t have to sacrifice health benefits just because you’re a parent and don’t have the time for a longer workout.
High intensity interval training is (HIIT) really popular these days for people that don’t have a lot of time. It has a lot of the health benefits of a longer workout (and in some cases may be better for you), but in a much smaller period of time.
High intensity interval training is exactly what it’s called - it is intervals of exercise at very high intensity. You go as hard or as fast as you can for a short period of time, followed by a period of rest. You then repeat for several minutes until your workout is over.
When doing HIIT, it’s important that you’re going as hard or as fast as you can, or else you won’t see the benefits as strongly. Don’t try to save yourself for something at the end - your goal is to try to meet your max intensity on every interval.
HIIT has one downside, and it’s that you really need to be in decent shape already to really attempt it. If you’re overweight you’ll want to work on more standard forms of cardio training first. The reasoning behind this is that HIIT is extremely hard on your joints - much more so than standard workouts.
As a parent, your time is already taken up by taking care of your kids. You probably aren’t able to get as much done as you’d like already. If that’s the case, HIIT may be a good option for you to still get an excellent workout in a much smaller time period. Additionally, I love to do HIIT workouts when I’m on vacation. This still allows me to get a quick workout in, but be able to spend more time relaxing and exploring.
Below are my favorite HIIT exercises, and how those compare to a standard workout that I may do.
Workout: 5 minute warmup; 20 seconds sprint, 30 seconds slow over 10 minutes; 5 minute cool down
When I’m at home, I will often do a 90 minute bike session on my stationary bike. This works well for me to do a couple of times a week, but it’s still a lot of time spent on a bike. When I don’t have that 90 minutes, I’ll do this HIIT bike workout.
You may think that 20 seconds is a really short time for biking, but you have to remember that you’ll be going all out in those 20 seconds. Trying to extend those 20 seconds any longer will likely decrease the benefits of this workout as you won’t be able to push yourself as hard.
If you are finding this too easy, rather than increasing your sprint time frame, decrease your resting time frame. Giving a shorter rest period will help increase your intensity overall. On the other hand, if this workout is too intense for you, you can either increase your resting period, or decrease your sprinting period.
If you’re walking without issue, or not breathing hard during your workout, you’re not going hard enough.
Workout: 5 minute warmup; 10 seconds sprint, 20 seconds jog over 10 minutes; 5 minute cool down
This is actually my favorite HIIT workout. I’ve always liked to sprint - I don’t love long runs, but sprinting really gets my adrenaline pumping and gives me a high.
The way to complete this exercise is very straightforward. Sprint for 10 seconds, rest or jog for 20 seconds. If you have a longer area that you can sprint along, you’ll be able to more easily increase your period of sprinting as well.
If you really want to take this workout to an extreme level, find a hill that you can do some of your sprinting intervals on. Running up hills while sprinting is an absolute killer workout - I also wouldn’t recommend sprinting up the hill everytime. You’ll be done in about 2 minutes if you’re trying that.
Overall, this is a straightforward workout, but can be turned up to extreme difficulty if you want or need it.
Workout: 5 minute warmup; 15 burpees, 30 second cool down for 10 minutes; 5 minute cool down
This is a slightly easier workout from one perspective - it’s not as a high intensity as the other two. However, it’s more difficult from another perspective as your arms will get a heavy dose of training as part of this workout. A lot of times I’ll actually add a few minutes of this burpee workout to the end of a strength training session.
Goes as hard and as fast as you can on your burpees. Get down and up quickly, and get a good jump when you come up. When you’re down on the ground, you can also do a pushup - I’ve found as I move along in this workout that I don’t have the energy to do them anymore, so don’t feel like you have to.
Burpees are fun because they are a more full body workout than biking or sprinting. You’ll really get your arms and core involved more heavily (although sprinting requires a lot of core strength).
Get a quick workout, enjoy the health benefits, and then get back to your family and other responsibilities. Your body will thank you later.