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04 Feb 2023, Edition - 2762, Saturday

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Health & Lifestyle

How To Make The Most Of A 20 Minute Workout



Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a great workout in in less than the running time of an episode of KUWTK? Well, we’ve got pretty bloody fantastic news… you can.

In fact, we’ve spoken to some fitness experts who reckon you can get some great results with just 20 minutes of hard graft in the gym (or the studio). Here are five ways that these personal trainers say you can blitz your bod effectively in less than half an hour…

HIIT it up

Hugh Hanley, National Personal Training Manager at Virgin Active says: ’20 minutes of high intensity after your warm up will be plenty to get you seeing results quickly. Aim to complete HIIT sessions at least 3 times a week to see the difference.’

To give it a go, you need to warm up for three minutes, then exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds (as in, gasping for breath, couldn’t possibly go on hard and fast). ‘On a scale of intensity from 1-10 you want to be about an 8,’ Hugh advises. Recover for 60 seconds, still moving but at a decreased resistance, repeat and recover 5-10 more times.

Take the lift

However, cardio isn’t the only way to get an efficient workout in just half an hour. ‘If you’d prefer to strength train, choose back-to-back exercises and minimise the time you spend resting between each set,’ says DW Fitness Club’s personal trainer and bodybuilding champion Carly Tierney.

‘Be prepared to work to your limits; challenging yourself with tough exercises by maintaining intensity throughout your entire 20 minute workout.’ Once again, you have put in all of your effort for the duration of your exercise sesh – but when it’s only 20 minutes, it seems doable, no?

Try Tabata

‘Alternatively, to make the most of your 20 minutes, full body Tabata training is amazing for burning fat,’ Carly continues. ‘Another form of high-intensity interval training, just a short workout will leave you with a sweaty face and a pumping heart.’

Each circuit in a Tabata workout lasts just four minutes, but works with any exercise, and will hit the area you’re targeting hard – there are plenty of versions online that will suit you whatever timeframe you have available. ‘It’s a great way to start the day,’ Carly says. ‘You’ll be full of energy in no time at all.’

Mix up machines

A recent poll of fitness professionals at The Gym Group named the top five most effective ways to work out, and the rowing machine came top of the list of most effective cardio (followed by the treadmill, cross-trainer, stepper and bike), so if you don’t normally row, it may be worth switching up your routine.

However, Allyn Condon, Olympian and manager at The Gym Bristol, warns that the right technique is essential: ‘Making the stroke longer and slower is far more effective than pulling to hard and fast. It’s better to be precise and efficient.’

Fuel your body

‘Your body uses stored energy in your muscles to power through the workout but afterwards, you need to replenish those lost nutrients,’ Allyn adds. ‘Take on some good quality protein to help with recovering the muscles that have been used during the session. It’s also important to consume some carbohydrates for well-balanced blood sugar levels and to gain some energy for the rest of the day.’

He suggests porridge with banana or wholemeal bread with peanut butter to set yourself up for the hard work, and brown rice with chicken or yoghurt with berries for afterwards. Not the worst diet plan we’ve ever heard, we think you’ll agree…

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