How to Fit In Your Fitness When It Doesn’t Neatly Fit In--by Marlene Harris, NSCA-CSCS, NASM-CES
     A tidal wave of current research is touting the virtues of interval-style exercise for general conditioning and ramping up fat loss. I can confirm that these reports are accurate, because I’ve had good results in both areas using this type of training along with proper nutritional modifications (read: less calorie intake). 
     The strength of intervals as an exercise mode is several-fold:
     1). You save time-interval training is generally more intense, so while you work a bit harder during each interval, you don’t have to work as long during the interval or overall. This means you do higher quality work in much less time.
    2). Interval training runs the razor edge of both major fitness categories: strength and endurance. You’ll improve in both areas, not just one!
    3). Intervals can take any number of forms, so is a highly versatile and easily varied form of exercise. This is great news for those of you who, like me, often get bored with their fitness “routine” and need to keep things fresh. You can get creative and playful as you explore varying combinations. This will keep up your interest, momentum, and your results.
   4). Intervals tend to ward off the “when will this be over” blues. Because of the shortened interval, even though it’s more intense, you know that an interval will be over in “just a few more seconds”.  This makes it easier to talk yourself into hanging on.
    One caveat, however, is that ramping up your intensity can be a tricky task.  Intense intervals are NOT for those with uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, major joint or bone disorders or injuries, or those undergoing cancer treatments or treatments for other major diseases. You should get an MD’s green light if you’re uncertain about your status. Additionally, you should have a decent baseline level of both strength and endurance. You shouldn’t be “just getting started” or “re-started” (after an absence) with your fitness program. You should have a history of regular strength training and cardio. work for at least 3 months (minimum 3-6 times per week). You’ll also want to have your nutrition on par and your energy levels consistent before attempting intervals of any degree of intensity or you’ll tank in short order.
   For those of you who meet the above requirements, intervals can be an express train to good results, a quick substitute for a gym visit when you’re strapped for time, an additional “something-something” for after dinner (or after -indulgence) calorie burning, or a way to generally break up the monotony of your regular program.


     Speaking to the time-strapped among you in particular, here’s an example. The following is a workout I did recently because I was short on time. Here’s the scenario:
     A mandatory meeting was threatening to scuttle my workout plan. I also had the goal of preparing part of the next day’s menu that day to be ahead of the game. What’s a busy person to do? Here’s my solution:
   1). I put the ingredients for a sauce together in a pot and set it on “simmer”, and threw the meat for the sauce in a frying pan, set it on med. heat.
   2). I did a set of 10 combo. “burpees” (with 2 dumbells). For those who don’t recognize the term, a ‘burpee’ is that demonic exercise where you bend over to set your hands on the floor, jump both feet out into push-up position, jump your feet back in to the bent-over position, then stand up straight. For spice, I threw in a biceps curl and an overhead press into the mix after standing up, thus getting lower body/whole body/and upper body work all in the same exercise, and let me tell you, it doesn’t take long to crank your heart rate up doing these bad boys!
   3). I went back to the kitchen and checked/stirred the meat and the sauce.
   4). I did a set of 12 chest presses w/dumbbells on an exercise ball, then put one of the dumbbells down, and did 20 crunches using the remaining dumbbell.
   5). Went back in the kitchen, stirred the meat and the sauce.
   6). Did another set of 10 combo. burpees.
   7). Went back in the kitchen, checked/stirred the meat and the sauce.
   8). Did another set of 12 chest presses and 20 crunches.
   7). Went back in the kitchen, checked/stirred the meat and the sauce.
   8). I repeated this alternating task list until I had done 4 sets each of combo. burpees and chest press/crunch combos with stove checks in between each set.
     The cooking task allowed for 30 sec.-1 min. rest intervals. Since I find just standing at the stove to be incredibly tedious, the exercise tasks were highly functional time-fillers. I also hate standing around doing nothing on my exercise rest breaks, so this gave me something useful to do in between interval bouts as well.  In sum, I worked abs, chest, legs, back, biceps, shoulders, and triceps vigorously AND got dinner handled all within the space of about 20-25 min.!  As a side note, I was actually sore from this workout. But, don’t take my word for it, take the concept for a test drive! If you’re strapped for time, yet need to get some critical household function done AND need to fit in a workout, conquer both tasks by alternating a set of some multi-joint or whole body drills with your other task. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a short period of time!

Here’s some additional ideas on some other combinations that cover major body parts:
1). Alternate sets of body weight or weighted squats and sets of floor push-ups followed by crunches.
2). Alternate sets of chair “get-ups” (body weight or with dumbbells) and sets of 1-arm rows using a dumbbell (or other heavier object) followed up by lying leg lifts for abs.
3). Alternate sets of lunges with front raises and side raises (for the shoulders) holding dumbbells, canned goods, or whatever with sets of lying elbow-to-knee crunches (you can mix up same side, opposite, side, or bring both elbows to both knees).
4). Alternate sets of jumping jacks and sets of regular, kneeling, or wall push-ups (clap your hands between pushes!) followed by standing elbow to opposite knee touches (throw in a squat after you set your foot down for spice!).
5). Alternate sets of running in place with “crab walks” forward and backward.
6). Alternate sets of ‘mountain climbers’ with “hand walks” (from an “all fours” position, walk forward and backward using mostly your hands and upper body).
7). Alternate sets of 10-15 fast kicks with each leg and sets of 15-20 speed punches with each arm followed by sit-up-and reach crunches.
    These are just a few examples of virtually endless combinations. You don’t have to follow these ideas-feel free to create your own, and have fun doing so!

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