As someone who sits in front of a computer all day, I know firsthand how easy it is to make excuses about how I'm too busy, stressed or tired to exercise. And going to the gym often feels like such a pain, driving there before or after work and hauling along a change of clothes and toiletries. This is a process which saps at least an hour from my already overscheduled day.
But I've learned a couple really important things in the years I've spent studying the habits of successful people. First, they prioritize exercise. It's a practice that helps them think and feel better and get more done throughout the rest of the day. Second, it doesn't have to take a lot of time. Researchers have found that doing strength training for less than half that time only three times a week is enough to get stronger and more toned.
Do both, and cross exercise off your to-do list while saving time. Here's a three-move exercise routine you can do in 11 minutes behind the closed door of any empty conference room in your office. Do each move for 30 seconds using the stopwatch on your phone as a drill sergeant.
Move 1: Elbow plank with leg circle
This move is the backbone of this workout and to do it you'll need a paper plate (which you can likely grab from your breakroom). Start in a plank position on your forearms and place the paper plate under the toes of one of your feet. For 30 seconds move the plate in a circle so that at its highest point your knee touches your elbow. This move is a killer for almost your entire body and you'll feel it in your upper leg, butt, abs and arms.
Move 2: A-shaped wall pushup
I learned this one in a barre class and was shocked at how sore my triceps were the next day. Stand with your hands placed on a wall so that your body is slanted like one side of the letter A. In other words, your arms are over your head on the wall and your feet are a few feet away from the wall. Now touch your elbows to the wall. It's a small but weirdly effective movement that will sneak up on you.
Move 3: Moving wall sit.
Start in a regular wall sit position, pressing your back along the wall with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle so your upper legs are flat enough to hold a tray. Now, as your timer counts down to 30 seconds, lift and lower your heels and arms (up and over your head to touch the wall and then back down to your knees). This one works your upper legs, calves and arms.
Here's the sequence you can do to get a remarkably effective (and efficient) workout:
- Move 1 (left leg)
- Move 2
- Move 3
- Move 1 (right leg)
- Move 2
- Move 3
Doing this set three times takes nine minutes of actual exercise. Assuming you'll spend about two minutes transitioning, it's a workout you can do in 11 minutes. How's that for making the most of your time?