Like most people, if you are short on time, making your workouts as efficient as possible is key.
Nowadays, the majority of people are time starved, and need quick and effective workouts to fit into their busy schedule. Working out for 1.5- 2 hours at the gym just doesn’t fit in. While you are looking for a quick and effective way to work out, you also need to be doing exercises that maximize your time and results.
Here are 7 of the best fat burning exercises to see great results and making the best use of your time.
While there are many effective exercises for the chest, nothing comes close to maximizing time and efficiency like a push-up. Not only are you working the chest, shoulders and triceps, but you are also working the upper back muscles and scapula stabilizers (rhomboids, lower trap, lats, etc.). Aka: Keeping the shoulders down and back.
Secondly, push-ups are a phenomenal core exercise when done with strict form. You target the glutes, traverse abdomdinals, rectus abdominals, and internal and external obliques.
And once push-ups get easy, you can progress them by using a weighted vest, bands, or TRX straps.
While there are many variations of doing a row, the best use of your time is to hop on a TRX and do inverted rows off of the TRX suspension straps. When rowing with TRX straps there is much more at play in terms of core strength. To do them correctly, you need to actively recruit all of your core muscles like the transverse abdominals, obliques, glutes, rectus abdominals, etc. Aside from hitting the back and scapula stabilizers, you also hit the biceps and lats as secondary muscle.
If we compare this to rowing on a bench, and the same benefits aren’t there, as you are rowing off of a stable surface.
Dumbbell or Barbell Deadlifts
Any type of deadlift needs to be in your program. Deadlifts are one of the best full body movements, and target almost every single muscle in your body.
First, you are primarily targeting the hamstrings and gluteus maximus and medius muscles.
Secondly, you need to recruit and brace all of the core muscles to prevent your lower back from supporting you throughout the movement- which is something most people do in a deadlift.
Third, when done correctly, you are working your rhomboids, lower and middle traps, lats, and rear delts in order to keep your shoulders back and down. Also known as stabilizing your scapula, which improves posture and prevents injury down the road.
In a deadlift, you are covering almost every area of your body, which makes it an amazing and time efficient exercise.
And the great thing is, it can be easily scaled up or down depending on your fitness level.
The best deadlift variation to start with, is a Romanian Deadlift. It teaches you basic deadlift mechanics, and setup, and how to properly “hinge” your hips which is critical to a properly executed deadlift.
Romanian deadlifts can be performed with bodyweight, or lighter weights to start, or a few inches away from a wall-which teaches you how to hinge properly and get the most out of the movement.
Lunges/ Split Squats
Lunges and split squats an amazing exercise for working and developing the legs.
While these exercises take a fair amount of coordination, they are typically easier to learn in comparison to a squat (due to mobility issues).
Lunges work the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps when performed with strict form, and involve lots of core work in helping with stabilizing the torso, especially during the stepping out and pushing back motions of the movement.
Secondly, Split squats are a great way to learn the mechanics of a lunge, and do not require as much coordination and stability. They are a great starting point for sedentary people, anyone at a beginner fitness level, and people carrying a lot of extra weight.
Lunges and split squats (especially with an elevation) involve great proprioception demand which is another residual benefit of the movement.
Squats, like deadlifts, are one of the best full body exercises you can do. When most of us think of squats, we think of working the thighs. However, squats are also an amazing exercise for the hips and hamstrings-done with strict form, and for strengthening the core muscles- especially if you are doing front squats with a barbell or dumbbell/kettlebell.
The only challenge squats pose is there is a steep learning curve. It takes a lot of time, practice, and patience to learn the mechanics of squatting correctly. Squats also require a ton of mobility through the hips, ankles, and thoracic spine, which is huge challenge for the majority of people and something you need to actively work on if you wish to improve this exercise.
Although they require practice and patience, squats need to be a staple in your program. And the great thing is a squat can be easily scaled back using your own bodyweight, trx straps, or a bench to learn proper technique.
There are many great shoulder exercises out there like dumbbell shoulder presses, lateral and front deltoid raises, dumbbell arnold presses, and rear delt fly’s.
But if you want to maximize workout time, squat presses would be my number # 1 recommendation. The one of the most challenging exercises to do both mentally and physically.
Adding a squat to your shoulder press makes this exercise more metabolic (burns more calories), and can provide some added cardiovascular benefits – depending on how you structure it into your workout.
Try doing 10-15 squat presses with relatively heavy weight, and you will be ready to drop to the floor after-especially if you superset it with another exercise.
Sprints (or some other form of HIIT style cardio)
While any form of interval cardio is great and the most time efficient way to do cardiovascular work, I would recommend sprints as the # 1 choice. The reason? You don’t need any equipment, and practically speaking they are easy to implement- all you need is an open space like a field, track or park. You don’t need to go to a gym to do them.
And they are far superior to running on a treadmill, as with sprints you are moving your own bodyweight through space, and not getting assistance from a belt.
To be clear though, sprints may not be the best option for everyone. If you are sedentary, carrying a lot of extra weight, are at a beginner level of fitness, or have lower body injuries that get aggravated from high impact activity.
If you fall into any of these categories, then using a less intense and lower impact routine is best.
Interval cardio can be incorporated no matter what fitness level you are at, or what injuries you are dealing with, you just need to be creative.
For those starting off or at a beginner level of fitness, you can start by doing a walk/run combo which is a form of interval cardio. Ex: running for 30s, and walking for 60s.
Or you could do the same style of training on an elliptical or stationary bike (30 s of work, 60s of light activity).
For those dealing with lower body injuries sticking with low impact HIIT routines is best like using a stationary bike, elliptical machine, battle ropes, or creating a cardio circuit of low impact exercises.
Here would be an example of a low impact HIIT circuit
- Mountain climbers- for 20s
- TRX squat jumps for 20s
- Marching high knees 20s
- Rest 60s, and then repeat
While there are many great exercises out there that can help you lose weight, these are the best ones. They will get you the fastest results in the shortest amount of time.
And for most of us, time is everything. By adding in these time efficient exercises, you won’t need marathon workout sessions anymore.
Besides, who wants to be working out for more than an hour? I sure don’t, and much like you, have other priorities that require my time and attention.