Skip to content

Super-Short Workouts

Heard of the 7-minute workout? How about Tabata? Both are just a few minutes. The trick is, you work harder than you thought possible, pushing yourself to the max. If you're not in shape now, start with something more moderate.

Sprint Triathlon

If you’ve got the guts for a triathlon, but not enough hours to train, try a shorter version. A sprint triathlon is a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride, and 3-mile run. In a triathlon relay, team members work together to complete a regular triathlon. Get a checkup before any new workout if you're a man over 45 or a woman over 55, or if you have health issues.

Ballet Barre Class

These moves can strengthen your core, arms, and legs. One to try is the plié: Stand with your heels together, toes apart, and then bend your knees. Squeeze your inner thighs and glutes as you slowly go lower, keeping your knees over your toes, and then rise to standing. Studios offer classes, or you can follow a video at home. Some classes also include cardio.

Adventure Races

Only the fit and fearless can tackle this obstacle race. You do things like crawl through mud, climb walls, and swim in icy water. Train for at least 8 weeks with sprints, squats, pushups, and weights. Rest between short bursts of exercise.

Sports Leagues for Adults

Add some team spirit to your workout by joining a recreation league. You could play tennis, volleyball, soccer, basketball, flag football, or softball, for starters. There are also leagues for games you might have played way back in grade school, like kickball or dodgeball.

Elite Fitness: Muscle Confusion

Cross-training programs like P90X and Insanity aim for "muscle confusion." They switch up exercises, add new moves, and often include jump training, also called plyometrics.

Indoor Cycling Class

This trend is here to stay. In some, you can compete against your classmates. Many programs also use upper-body weights. Some places combine cycling with yoga or Pilates.

Zumba: Dance Fitness

Zumba wants your workout to party! This high-energy dance fitness class moves to Latin and international beats instead of counting repetitions. It's one of the most popular workouts, and it burns more calories than kickboxing or step aerobics. Zumba Step, a new type of Zumba to pump up the intensity, combines the dance moves of Zumba with a step for toning and strengthening legs and glutes.

CrossFit

You can burn about 15 calories per minute with this intense workout. Work to your max with squats, pushups, gymnastic rings, intense runs, and weightlifting. “Hero Workouts” are named in honor of soldiers who died serving the country. Be aware that the bursts of intense exercise can lead to injury. It’s important to work on your flexibility and learn to do the moves properly.

ViPR

ViPR sounds like a killer workout, but the true goal is strength and fitness for everyday life. You use a heavy rubber tube to lift, push, twist, and work your whole body. ViPR adds moves that boost your workout whether you’re just starting or you’re a top athlete. Choose the size and weight that fits your needs.

Kettlebells

A vigorous workout with a kettlebell -- a cast iron ball with a handle -- can burn 272 calories on average in just 20 minutes. Swinging the kettlebell works muscles in a way that weight machines and barbells can't. Start with a light kettlebell -- 8 to 15 pounds for women, and 15 to 25 pounds for men. Form is critical to prevent injury, so ask a trainer to show you how to use them properly.

Water Aerobics

Working out in water is easy on your joints. The resistance from the water helps make you stronger. You can make this workout as hard as you want, depending on how quickly you do the moves. Plus, being in the water just feels good to many people, so it can help you relax and feel better. If aerobics isn't your thing, you could swim laps or walk in the water for a solo workout.

Boot Camp: Back to Basics

This is basic training without a drill sergeant sneering and shouting in your face. There’s no fancy equipment -- just a series of pushups, squats, kicks, other calisthenics, and aerobic movements. You’ll burn about 10 calories a minute, or 600 an hour. The payback: total-body fitness.

Exergaming: Aerobic Play

Who said playing video games turns you into a couch potato? You can burn as many calories exergaming as working out at the gym -- about 270 calories vigorously dancing, or 216 calories virtual boxing, in a half-hour. Exergaming is one way to get kids moving. And slower-paced activities can help older adults be less sedentary.

Boxing

Among exercises, boxing is a knockout -- delivering agility, balance, muscle tone, strength, and cardio benefits. Sparring also improves hand-eye coordination and mental agility. You'll be skipping, shadowboxing, kicking punching bags, and more. Be sure to protect your thumbs and knuckles, and consider wearing shin supports.

Hulas: Whittle While You Work Out

If the last time you swung a hula hoop was in fourth grade, it's time to give it another whirl. It's easier to swing the new weighted hula hoops than the flimsy plastic ones. Hooping can burn more calories than step aerobics and raise your heart rate as much as cardio kickboxing. It works your waist and core muscles, and can tone your thighs and biceps.

Apps for Exercise

Fitness trackers such as the Fitbit and GoWear Fit measure your steps, calories burned, and calories eaten. They can even monitor your sleep. The information can be uploaded and tracked on your computer. There are also apps that show you exactly what to do in your workout and explain good form, so you do it right.

Finding a Good Trainer

A trainer can help you get more out of your workout. Choose a trainer with experience in the type of workout you want to try. Look for someone who is certified by an accreditation program, such as the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, or the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Loading Next Slideshow:

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on June 10, 2014