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What’s the most efficient workout I can fit in at the office gym? Add to ...

The question: My office has a gym. I want to do weights and cardio on my lunch hour, but I only have an hour to work out, change and eat. So, I have about a 35-minute window for the actual workout. Any ideas of what I can do to maximize my time?

The answer: Absolutely! I often work out when clients cancel, so I totally understand the challenge of fitting exercise, a shower and food into an hour. Trust me, it can be done!

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One of my favourite quick workouts is a combination of cardio intervals and what I call “minutes.” The basic concept of minutes is to do as many reps as you can of any exercise (with good form) for a minute. Then, without resting, move to the next exercise. They can be done using any exercise, but multijoint exercises like squats, squat curls, lunges, dead lifts, push-ups and pull-ups work best.

If you exercise every weekday, try following this routine: On Monday, Wednesday and Friday do 10 minutes of intervals, plus two sets of 10-minute minutes workouts. On Tuesday and Thursday, do intervals for 25 minutes, plus 10 minutes of stretching and core work (planks, side planks, etc.).

If working out five days a week is not realistic, try this: On non-consecutive days, alternative five minutes of intervals with five minutes of minutes, repeat three times. Finish with a stretch.

Here are some sample interval workouts (you can use any cardio machine):

  • Workout No. 1: For 10 minutes: two minutes easy effort, three minutes moderate effort, then five minutes alternating between 45 seconds of intense work and 15 seconds easy.
  • Workout No. 2 : For five minutes: Increase your tension and effort slightly each minute.
  • Workout No. 3: For 25 minutes: 10 minutes at moderate pace. Follow with 10 sets of 30 seconds regular effort, 20 seconds hard effort, 10 seconds harder effort. Then five minutes at moderate pace.

Here are some sample minutes workouts:

  • Workout No. 1: For 10 minutes: push-ups, squats, pull-ups or bent over rows, lunges (one minute each side), biceps to shoulder press, lateral raises, reverse flys, bridges with your head and shoulders on a stability ball, dips.
  • Workout No. 2: For five minutes: squat and press, alternating lunge with a bicep curl, burpie with a push-up, dips, bent over rows.

Trainer’s tip: If you have time (especially if your goal is to improve your fitness), do a longer strength workout. And in addition to the above workouts, try to accumulate 10,000 steps a day by doing things like taking the stairs and parking your car a few blocks from your destination.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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