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How to get maximum benefit from a mini workout Add to ...

The question

I have a home gym complete with weights, treadmill and a stationary bike. I have limited time, about 30 minutes a day. What do you suggest in order to see the most benefits?

The answer

Try alternating one day of intervals on the bike or treadmill, with one day of tabata training. (Tabata training consists of four-minute long sets of 20 seconds of hard work alternated with 10 seconds of recovery.)

More related to this story

Three days a week, on non-consecutive days, do intervals on your bike or treadmill.

Do a five minute warm-up. Then alternate one minute of hard work followed by two minutes of moderate work for 15 minutes. Cool down for five minutes. Finish with stretching.

Do tabata workouts on the days in between your interval workouts.

On the days you do tabata workouts, warm up for five minutes on the bike or treadmill and then do four or five tabata sets. Finish with five minutes of stretching.

Any exercise can be made into tabata as long as you keep the intensity high during the 20 seconds of work. You should feel like you need the 10 seconds of rest.

For example, make the plank and row exercise into a tabata set. Start in a plank position on your hands and toes with a five to ten pound weight on the floor under your chest. Keep your hips stable as you pick the weight up with your right hand and row your elbow up to the sky. Alternate arms for the entire 20 seconds.

Design your workout so that the exercises complement each other. For example, don't do a chest exercise without working its opposing muscle group, the upper back.

Trainer's Tip

Don't have equipment at home? Don't worry. You can do the intervals by running or walking outside, and use body-weight exercises in your tabata set. Think push-ups or burpees.



Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in the Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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