High Intensity Training Intervals
Credit: Lance Cpl. Donald Holbert via Wikimedia Commons

Losing weight and staying in shape is difficult because of all of the temptations we have in our modern lives. We can have food literally at the tips of our fingers simply by ordering online for delivery. We never have to move a muscle.

To control our weight and maintain our health, we need to make the most of our time when we are working out. Most of us lead lives that are simply too busy to go and ride a stationary bike or a treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes a day, then try to do weight training. But weight training alone is not the key either. You need constant motion that taxes the body in order to burn calories and get your metabolism is high gear.

Have you noticed the people at the gym that sit on the machines, do a set, and then sit there motionless for minutes at a time before the next set?

More often than not, those people are not in the best shape, and although they are at least putting forth an effort, it is largely a wasted effort because they are not doing the most effective workout to lose weight and noticeably alter their bodies.

So what is the most effective workout for busy people?

Workout Smarter not Longer

The most effective way to change your body is by doing interval training. Some people refer to it as circuit training, but actually, they are one in the same with only minor differences. The idea is to do high intensity, quick hitting exercises, with little to no rest in between sets.

This type of workout can be performed using free weights, machines, or simply using body weight exercises. The key to success however is high intensity activity for 20 to 30 minutes, although less when first starting out.

Workout Routines

A typical interval routine would be as follows: 10 -15 push-ups Planking for 20 – 30 seconds 30 seconds of mountain climbers 15 prisoner squats (hands behind head) 30 seconds of jumping jacks 5 burpees.

That would be considered 1 super set and it will push you, especially the burpees at the end. If you do not know what a burpee is, google it. It is one of the most exhausting exercises you can do. The idea is to complete the super set as fast as possible. When you first start out, you can try to do as many of these types of super sets as you can in 10 minutes.


The Most Effective Workout to Lose WeightCredit: Cpl. Jason E. Miller via Wikimedia Commons
Using high intensity training will increase the effectiveness of your workout

Some of the best interval workouts involve a mixture of free weight exercises, body weight exercises and aerobic exercises such as jumping jacks, mountain climbers or burpees.

The great thing about circuit, or interval training, is the variety and the combinations you can employ. [1] Be creative.

I like to incorporate a BOSU balance ball in my planking and push-ups. There are multiple sources online that have demonstrations of each type of exercises as well as most extensive sample workouts. The list of exercises you can utilize in this manner is almost endless.

For example, you can employ weight training in with one of your super sets simply by doing dumb-bell flys, bench presses or anything using weights, then immediately go into your other circuit combinations, such as jumping jacks or jumping rope.

Interval Exercise Suggestions

The basic push-up is still one of the best exercises you can do for total upper body strength so most routines should include some variation.

  • Push-ups
  • Planking
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Jumping Rope
  • Body Weight Squats
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees

Consistency is the key to getting in better shape so try interval training and alter the routine each session because your body will adapt. When it starts to get too easy to do 15 or 20 push-ups, move up to 20 - 25 the following week. With this type of progressive stress on the muscles, you will see results.

If you are starting out, go easy at first, then work up to something like the suggested workout. Then take the next day off from the gym, or simply do a lite cardio day. You will see results within weeks.

How This Works

High Intensity Training
Credit: Teran61 via Wikimedia Commons

The reason this is a more effective weight loss and body toning technique than simple weight training or cardio is because it typically involves a full body workout during each session, while keeping your heart rate up so you can burn fat. [1]

Interval training has been well documented in scientific research to lead to weight loss and improved aerobic capacity.[2]

The secret to successful interval training is to minimize your rest in between activities. The more effective routines typically only allow 10 – 15 seconds of rest in between exercise types, and 30 – 60 seconds in between supersets. This allows the heart rate to remain in the fat burning stage.

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Final Thoughts

And there you have it, a complete body workout in 30 minutes or less. The best part of interval training is that when you are finished with your super sets, 30 minutes will have passed. If not, do some more. There are really no excuses when you are talking about this type of workout because most of it involves body weight exercises that you can do at home.

However, you need to keep your heart rate up 20 - 30 minutes for this to work. When you are finished, if you pushed yourself as required, you will be tired but the good news is that you are finished for the day. There is no need to do cardio because you just did it along with a total body workout. If you want to do a 15 or 20 minute cool down on the treadmill or bike, go ahead, but to keep you motivated going forward, I would suggest initially to skip it and head to the showers.

If you know you only have to stay at the gym for 30 minutes, you are more likely to keep up the routine and that is the most important thing about exercise is consistency. If you use this type of workout along with intermittent fasting, you will lose weight.

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