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Cardio Shortcuts: 3 Mini Workouts

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These three quick routines are perfect for days when you can't fit in a full session.

To burn fat and slim down, you ideally need to do 45 minutes of cardio four or five times a week—but some days that's impossible. That's where our three-part plan, designed by Chuck Wolf, manager of sport science and human performance for the USA Triathlon National Training Center in Clermont, Florida, comes in. You'll do several short sessions rather than one long one. Really busy? Do just one or two parts to boost energy and stay motivated.

Session 1: Early Run/Walk

Suggested time: 10 minutes

Minutes 0:00-5:00: Warm up with a brisk walk, keeping upper body tall.

5:00-8:00: Ease into a fast walk or slow jog.

8:00-10:00 Slow down to a brisk walking pace, allowing your heart rate to gradually drop.

Session 2: Midday Walking Boost

Suggested time: 15 minutes

0:00-2:00: Climb a few flights of stairs or do some forward and side lunges or jumping jacks.

2:00-10:00: Power-walk at a brisk pace, stepping smoothly from heel to toe while swinging your arms.

10:00-13:00: Climb a few more flights of stairs or do jumping jacks.

13:00-15:00: Walk briskly.

Session 3: Evening Strength Circuit

Suggested time: 20 minutes (Except for first exercise, do 10 to 15 reps of each one without stopping.)

0:00-2:00: Tri-plane reaching lunge. Imagine standing at the center of a clock.

Lunge forward to 12 o'clock with right foot, reaching overhead with left arm. Lunge to 3 o'clock with right leg, then to 9 o'clock with left, raising opposite arm to side each time. Step to 8 o'clock with left leg and reach both arms forward; step to 4 o'clock with right leg, reaching arms forward. Return to start and repeat, lunging first with left foot. Repeat for 2 minutes.

2:00-3:00: Squats with an overhead press. Squat down and press a pair of weights straight overhead.

3:00-6:00: Jog in place. 6:00-7:00: Alternating lunges with lateral raise. Lunge to the front with right leg; simultaneously, lift a pair of weights out to sides at shoulder height. Complete set; repeat for one minute.

7:00-8:00: Lateral ski jump. Imagine a line drawn on the floor. Jump over the line from side to side, using both feet; land with knees soft.

8:00-9:00: Push-ups. Do as many as you can in one minute.

9:00-10:00: Mountain climbers. While in push-up position, alternate bringing knees toward chest, keeping hips low, hands on floor and back flat.

10:00-11:00: Plank pose. From push-up position, shift body weight to forearms and toes, shoulders directly over elbows. Keep abs drawn in, glutes contracted and back flat. Hold for 1 minute.

11:00-20:00: Repeat circuit for a total of 20 minutes, starting from squats.


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