How to Get Fit in 10 Minutes or Less

Ditch the idea that when it comes to exercise, longer is better. Enjoy quick workouts -- and your extra time!
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One of the top excuses for not exercising is: "I don't have enough time."

Sadly, the health club culture has led us to believe that to get the body we want, we need to dedicate 45 to 90 daily minutes to the gym, plodding on the treadmill like a hamster in a wheel.

But some of the busiest and fittest people I know rarely go to a gym or exercise for longer than 60 minutes. How can that be?

Studies have shown that brief, intense bursts of cardiovascular exercise, also known as High Intensity Interval Training, can boost the metabolism and burn far more calories in a much shorter period of time compared to long, slow cardio sessions. You can use this concept to inject very short workouts throughout your day to quickly elevate your heart rate, get you breathing hard, and activate muscle fiber growth, without spending your precious time at the gym.

To get significant results from exercising for a very short period of time, you must exercise
  1. consistently, and
  2. with high intensity

For example, if you want to tone the backs of your arms (your triceps), you could do a long workout at the beginning of the week that involves three to five sets of several different exercises for your triceps -- and this might take you 20-25 minutes (while only working one single section of your body).

In contrast, you could perform one single exhausting set of narrow grip push-ups, which is a very effective exercise for targeting the triceps. As an alternative to one long, time-consuming triceps workout, you can easily squeeze a push-up set into a two-minute window, and simply do that single set of push-ups every other day.

That's just one simple example.

Most people can find a window of time that is slightly longer than two minutes to devote to their workouts. I've found 10 minutes to be something that even very busy individuals can achieve, such as first thing in the morning, before or after lunch, or at the office before heading home. So below, you'll find three 10-minute workouts that will work your entire body.

For each of these routines, don't worry about a long warm-up or cool-down -- everything is included in the 10-minute session. If you do find extra time, you can get added benefits by repeating a 10-minute workout two to three additional times throughout the day.

10-Minute Workout #1: Full Body Burn

Equipment: 1 pair of dumbbells and a chair, step, stairs, or box.

Instructions: Warm up with 25-50 jumping jacks, then complete 10-12 repetitions of each set of exercises twice, back-to-back with minimal rest, before moving on to next set.

10 Minute Workout #2: Butt, Abs, Thighs

Equipment: none

Instructions: Complete this routine as a circuit, one time through, with minimal rest between exercises. No warm-up required.

10 Minute Workout #3: Maximum Calorie Burn

Equipment: none

Instructions: Complete this routine as a circuit, three times through, with minimal rest between exercises. No warm-up required.

Remember to be consistent and be intense -- and ditch the idea that when it comes to exercise, longer is better. Enjoy your quick workouts and your extra time!

Ben Greenfield is a fitness and triathlon expert and host of the Get-Fit Guy podcast on the Quick and Dirty Tips network. His book, "Get-Fit Guy's Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body -- A Workout Plan for Your Unique Shape," will be published by St. Martin's Press on May 8, 2012.

For more by Ben Greenfield, click here.

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