Get the Most Out of a Minimalist Workout

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

Not enough time to work out? Not a problem! One of the hottest topics at this year’s meeting the American College of Sports Medicine was reportedly the minimalist workout, or doing quick movements that are more beneficial to the body than long, laborious sessions at the gym.

And while more studies are needed to better understand the impact short workouts have on the body overall, celebrity trainers insist it may be the way to go for a leaner body.

“You can burn more calories with HIIT-style workout, or high-intensity interval training,” explains Jennifer Cassetta, who holds a black belt in VSK Jujitsu and has trained Jenny McCarthy and Bethenny Frankel. “After the workout, for up to a few hours, the length depending on the intensity of the workout, you will burn more calories than you would during a sustained cardio workout.”

Personal trainers all agree that it’s the intensity of the workout and the ability to maintain that high energy from beginning to end that’s key to sweating off the pounds. We asked the pros for their tips on how to get the most from a minimal workout:

Start slowly
“Shorter workouts only burn more calories than longer workouts when the intensity is high enough,” stresses Daniel Meng, the “trainer to the country stars” who h as been working with Kenny Chesney for 12 years. Meng explains that not only does keeping up your energy help you intensify the calorie burn, but it can also lead to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which he says burns calories after the workout is completed. However, to see maximum results, you must perfect the moves  to avoid potential injuries. “Begin slowly and make sure you master the moves before engaging in a high-intensity metabolic resistance training workout,” says Meng.  Also don’t forget to start with a warm up and end with a cool down.

Give Yourself 15 Minutes
YouTube fitness personality Zuzka Light recommends short, high-intensity workouts for weight loss because not only will it make it easier to motivate someone who doesn’t exercise regularly, but you’ll be able to squeeze it in anytime during the day or night. “Set 15 minutes and promise yourself you will push hard and not stop working until you’re done,” she states. “Incorporate total body cardio exercises, like a burpee, to get the most out of each workout.”

Multitask
“Choose exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once, such as your upper and lower body, which tend to burn more calories,” says Brett Hoebel, a trainer on “The Biggest Loser: Season 11.” He recommends a squat to press, pull ups, pushups, and lunge to curls.

Change it up
Jogging for an hour may seem like a long time, but change it up to get more out of this classic routine. “Start by cutting that time in half,” explains Cassetta. “Then, break the time into intervals. Walk one minute, and then run the next. Keep alternating and get faster on the running intervals. When walking, keep the same pace throughout. You should be sweating more and getting your heart rate pretty high on the sprints.”

Take a break
When doing your cardio, don’t hesitate to give yourself a minute to rest…but only a minute. “If doing cardio, every other minute go full and then recover for a minute,” says model-turned trainer Kristin McGee, who has worked with Tina Fey and LeAnn Rimes. She also recommends adding a yoga burpee or a jump-switch lunge to build strength and keep the belly bloat at bay.

Measure your intensity
“If you work out for less time and do not increase your intensity, you will be wasting your time,” says Hoebel. “A good way to measure your intensity during training is by making sure you are breathless after the set. In other words, you should not be able to have a conversation.”

Say yes to chores
Been procrastinating on that to-do list? Consider making it part of your routine. “A short walk, five minutes of dancing, cleaning, and a light jog with the family dog can inspire the whole family,” says Kamilah Barrett, founder of Heel Hop and finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance.” For every chore you have to complete, add five minutes of non-stop dancing to get your heart rate going.

Keep going

“Remember that your mind will probably give up before your body will, so quiet that voice inside telling you that you need a break,” says Light. “Just keep moving. It’s only 15 minutes!”

Train like a pro
While it may be tempting to do these high intensity, minimal exercises every day, Hoebel recommends doing them 2-3 times a week at first, and then move on up as time goes on. This will not only prevent injury, but it will also give you enough time for your body to recover.

“Make sure you have eaten two-to-three hours prior to stabilize your blood sugar and then eat within 30 minutes after you work out,” he advises. On your “days off,” consider trying a new low-intensity workout to keep you motivated.

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