Can you really shape up in just minutes a day? A quick workout routine - or simple lifestyle changes -- may fit your goals.
With work, family, and social obligations competing for our
time, it seems we're all keeping a frantic pace these days. It's hard to find
time for a workout routine - and easy to see the allure of quick workouts that
promise fitness in just a few minutes a day.
But can these popular programs really do the trick, or are they
just another waste of precious time?
Well, say some fitness experts, it all depends on what you're
after. Odds are, you won't become an elite athlete or greatly improve the
health of your heart if you exercise only in quick workouts. But you might end
up a little stronger and a little healthier - and maybe even look a bit better
in your bathing suit.
According to online fitness trainer Jorge Cruise, author of the
best-selling book 8 Minutes in the Morning: A Simple Way to Burn Fat,
short bouts of weight training can help you build muscle mass and boost your
metabolism. And that, he says, can help you lose weight.
The quick workout component of Cruise's program consists of
doing four sets each of two strength-training exercises (things like push-ups
and bicep curls), six days a week. After a quick warm-up, you do one set of 12
repetitions of the first of the day's exercises, then immediately follow with
12 reps of the second exercise. Repeat the cycle three more times and you're
done for the day.
The book specifies two different exercises for each day,
working chest and back one day; shoulders and abdominals the next; then triceps
and biceps; hamstrings and quadriceps; calves and butt; and inner and outer
"The program is very specific," Cruise tells WebMD.
"It has been designed to provide short workouts -- preferably done in the
morning -- that will give your metabolism a boost throughout the day."
The eight minutes a day of strength training should help you
lose an average of two pounds a week, says Cruise, who also recommends an
eating plan emphasizing portion control and "healthy" fats. But Cruise
is quick to emphasize that his program is not designed for overall fitness.
"This is exclusively for weight loss," he says. "If you want to
work on anything else, this is not for you."
Within the fitness industry, Cruise is one of several
proponents of short sessions of strength -training exercise. Similar
philosophies can be found in the books Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow
Motion Fitness Revolution by Adam Zickerman and Bill Schley, and Flip
the Switch: Discover the Weight-Loss Solution and the Secret of Getting
Started by Jim Karas, among others.
Beyond strength training
But while Cruise touts the health benefits of strength training
- it keeps your bones strong and your muscles toned - he does not discount the
value of other forms of exercise. "If you want to keep your heart and lungs
healthy, then you need cardiovascular exercise," says Cruise, who includes
a section on power walking in his book.