November 1, 2013
The weeks between Halloween and New Year's Day can be the most hectic part of the year. From parties and family get-togethers to children's holiday events and end-of-the-year work deadlines, the last nine weeks of the year often seem busier than the other 43 weeks combined. Plus, the temptations that pop up during this time of year can easily interfere with your healthy habits and lead to weight gain, especially if you're finding it a challenge to stick to your regular workout routine. But even a little bit of exercise is better than a lot of inactivity. If you normally exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day, it may seem as though cutting down the length of your workout wouldn't be very beneficial, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you make your health and fitness a priority, then making the time for even a little bit of exercise can go a long way to helping you maintain what you've already achieved.
Fortunately, you don't need a trip to the gym or even any special workout equipment to achieve a total-body workout in just 16 minutes. This simple body-weight workout can be done in approximately 8-square feet of space, and the only equipment you need is a timer that can count down from 30 seconds. The circuit itself consists of eight exercises done for 30 seconds each, totaling just four minutes. By engaging all of the muscles and progressing to a quick, dynamic tempo, this workout can help you burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
- This old-fashioned favorite is great for elevating the heart rate.
Spiderman stretches; progress to mountain climbers after first circuit
- Bring your right knee to your right shoulder, while extending your left leg behind you. Slowly alternate legs and focus on the stretch in the extended leg.
After the first set, progress to mountain climbers by explosively switching the legs for 30 seconds.
Prone thoracic spine rotation
- Start in a push-up position. Press your left hand into the ground (to stabilize the shoulder), rotate the feet, hips and shoulders together at the same time, and raise the right hand into the air. Alternate sides at a steady pace.
Rear lunge with trunk rotation
- Start standing with feet hip-width apart and hands pressed together in front of the chest. Step backward with the left leg, while lowering into the right hip. At the bottom of the movement, rotate your arms and trunk to the right. Bring your arms back to the front of your body. Return to the starting position and alternate legs. For best results, your head should turn with your arms and shoulders; keep your front foot pressed into the ground for additional stability.
Side lunge; progress to ice skater hops after the first circuit
- Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart. Step to your right and with your left hand reach for your right foot (this will place extra work into the outer thigh and glute). Alternate legs.
- Start on your right leg with your left leg behind your body. Explode off the right leg, while swinging your left leg out to land. Alternate sides. Allowing your leg to shift behind your body will place extra work into the glutes and outer thighs and will help you be more explosive.
- The old tried-and-true push-up is a great exercise for developing shoulder, chest and arm strength, and is also effective for core stability. Press hands into ground, extend the legs and push the toes into the floor (to create additional stability). Slowly lower down and then push the ground away from you to return to the top.
- Perform on bent knees to reduce the challenge.
- Combine w/Spider-man stretch after the first circuit, OR perform explosive, hand-clap push-ups to increase the challenge.
Side plank (30 seconds each side)
- Side plank is a great core and shoulder exercise, and focusing on squeezing your glutes and thighs will create additional stability. The side plank is considered an active rest movement, so immediately go back to jumping jacks after holding on both sides.
- Start on your elbow the first time through the circuit.
- You can drop to your knee to reduce the intensity.
- To make the move harder, extend your arm.
Stay committed to this time-saving routine by tracking how many repetitions you do during the first workout and then try to match or beat that number in each of the following workouts.
Pete McCall Contributor
Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and long-time player in the fitness industry. He has been featured as an expert in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Runner's World and Self. He holds a master's degree in exercise science and health promotion, and several advanced certifications and specializations with NSCA and NASM.More Blogs by Pete McCall