By MYX Coach Dan Lawrence
When the government issued its fitness guidelines about how much cardio exercise we should aim for each week, they forgot to consider how busy our lives can be, especially during the weeks of the holiday season.
Whether you’re planning to host (an appropriately safe) gathering or virtual celebration, or you’re traveling to be with family or friends … ‘tis the season to miss a few of your weekly MYX sessions.
The key to working in your workouts as the holidays near? Playing with the frequency and intensity of your exercise routine. Picture them as dials on a stereo that can be adjusted up or down as you see fit. Here’s how.
Keep track of your reps — they add up!/Count up repetitions
We usually keep tabs on our training in terms of workouts per day, week, etc. Instead, consider how frequently you’re able to repeat a movement (i.e., your repetitions) throughout the week. For example, every time you get up from your computer to go to the bathroom, do 5 pushups, 5 KB swings, 5 dumbbell goblet squats (or any exercise, really). Maybe you get 20 to 50 repetitions of the movement per day. And while it might not seem like much in the moment, keeping this up for a week amounts to 140 to 350 repetitions. That's a lot of reps!
In the Kettlebell world, this concept is known as "greasing the groove" — practicing a movement, skill, or lift to promote efficiency and neuromuscular connection. Not every workout has to be a prolonged, all-out effort; a few focused repetitions of the movement can be very effective.
Turn up the intensity
When you’re short on time, dial up the intensity. Think of intensity as effort—how challenging it is to do an exercise. Intensity is measured by oxygen consumption and is affected by things like load (weight) and speed. Interval Training, HIIT, and Tabata are all based around changes in intensity, alternating intervals of rest and dialing it waaay up to near max. Even if you’ve only got 10 minutes, these all-out efforts not only burn calories during your workout, there's the added effect of Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), the after-burn of calories as your body attempts to reset itself to your resting rate. All of this counts toward meeting your vigorous activity goal.
Here’s what to hit in a short workout
You want to be focused and effective with your time when you only have a short amount of it. I would recommend hitting core exercises (multi-joint, large muscle groups) that mimic our everyday movement patterns. Exercises like the squat, deadlift, lunge, chest press, bent-over row, and then something rotational like the cross-body chop. You can't go wrong with these exercises as they are moves we do every day, and you can always benefit from their repetition. Use a timer or stopwatch on your phone and alternate 30 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest.
You could even create a circuit and perform all of these exercises for x number of reps in a sequence; 8 to 10 repetitions of each is suitable for muscle growth and definition.
Or … you can jump on the MYX tablet and hit play on one of our awesome shorter workouts!
When I program my short workouts for MYX…
… either on the bike or on the mat, I keep all of the above in mind, and especially look for opportunities to quickly elevate heart rate. That means programming in some explosive plyometric movement, sprint intervals (for the bike), or heavy resistance training.
The heart rate technology we use at MYX is so important for tracking our progress and ensuring that we’re getting the most from our workouts. Even if you’ve got just 10 or 15 minutes, there is a lot you can do in that time. Our HR monitor will ensure that you’re present and squeezing the most out of every rep, and every interval.
Of course, I also want to make these workouts fun, and I always ask myself, "Would I enjoy doing this workout?!"