10 Minute Workouts

These workouts come from Mark’s Daily Apple, a site I’ve come to rely on for solid nutrition and fitness advice. As a single working (and dating) mom living in the middle of the country and commuting to nearly everything, I can appreciate the complaint that there just isn’t enough time in the day to workout.

The owner of my local gym would say, “You don’t have time not to have time.” That’s confusing. But I’ve heard it and it stuck with me. The days keep going by and the one thing that makes the biggest difference in your health is just making the time. You don’t have to feel like it. You don’t have to have an hour long, all out endurance and strength workout every time. You just have to show up. The same goes for our diets. Quick detoxes, sharp calorie cuts, and occasional kicks on one trend or another isn’t what creates a life of clean eating. Doing the menu planning, grocery shopping, local food sourcing, and just showing up in the kitchen day after day is what it takes. So give yourself some slack. Find some patience. Do a 10 minute workout. Prep a ton of veggies and meat once a week for meals. Get into making yogurt or sauerkraut. Do a couple minutes of sun salutations in the morning. Put yourself to sleep earlier. All these little steps are what add up. Make the time. It’s about creating a routine, a cyclical life, mirroring the seasons and needs of our families and environment. I’m spinning this out too far, perhaps. But I know lately my time has been stretched thin. I’m not sleeping enough. Working a lot more hours. Trying to keep in touch with people. And more often than not I show up at the gym with less than 30 minutes and wonder if it’s even worth it. But listen, it is. I am eating boring soup leftovers and celery with almond butter every lunch. But when time is short, just show up, preserve some time, and don’t sabotage the work you’ve done ’till now.

I know I’ll be printing out these workouts to have on hand when I don’t have more time. Or if I want to get out of the gym sooner to get Aurelia and make a special dinner. Roasted asparagus. Sweet potato smokey turkey chile stew. Honey buttermilk mincemeat cake. Recipes to come, of course.

Make the time. Show up. Save yourself.

Taken from Mark’s Daily Apple:

1. Max Reps Multiplied

Choose two movements – one upper body focused, one lower body focused – that are complementary and do not conflict with each other. Pullups and squats, good. Deadlifts and squats, not so good. For each movement, perform the maximum amount of consecutive reps you can do. Multiply that number by four to give you a target amount of total reps. You have ten minutes to reach the target rep count in each exercise using any set and rep scheme you desire. So if you were able to do eight pullups and six front squats in a row, you need to do 32 more pullups and 24 more front squats. For weighted movements, 50 reps (including your initial max set) is the upper limit. For bodyweight movements like air squats and pushups, the upper limit is 100 reps. If you reach the upper limit, add weight next time.

2. Baby Steps

Very few of us launched right into full-blown bipedalism out of the womb. Instead, we crawled, crawled, and crawled some more. Contrary to the popular belief that crawling is just a useless placeholder for walking, moving around on all fours develops shoulder mobility and strength and contralateral awareness, plus the basic ability to move around and explore the environment. Adults should crawl too. It’s a little different for us, though. We’re heavier than babies, so crawling can be taxing, particularly on the upper body. We’re also not used to crawling, so it’s a new movement all over again for many of us.

The easiest way to learn how to crawl correctly is to start on the hands and knees. Assume the position. Place your left hand/left knee close together and your right hand/right knee further from each other. “Step” forward with your left hand and right knee, then follow with the right hand and left knee. Continue in this contralateral fashion.

For the workout, crawl for seven minutes out of the allotted ten. The three minutes of break time can be divided into as many break periods as you like (e.g. three 1-minute breaks, or ten 18-second breaks, etc.). Crawl forward, crawl backward, crawl uphill, crawl downhill. Crawl sideways. Just explore the environment from the vantage point of a big baby.

3. Short and Heavy

This is a prescription for heavy kettlebell swings and short sprints. Every minute on the minute, do ten swings with a weight that’s heavy for you and follow it immediately up with a short 5 second all-out sprint. Because the actual workout part of the workout will be short (but very intense), put every fiber of your being into the swinging and especially the sprinting. It doesn’t sound like much, but it will be after ten minutes.

If you don’t have a kettlebell, any weighted object that’s able to safely pass between your legs will work. Sandbag, weight plate, dumbbell, small child, etc.

The basic kettlebell swing is detailed in this video by Dan John. Watch it if you need to know how to perform the swing correctly.

4. Park Play

Stick to times when the playground is empty, partly for your security and partly so you don’t bowl over any kids during your workout. Or, bring a kid (hopefully your own) to join in with you.

The makeup of this workout depends on the equipment at your disposal. Most jungle gyms allow you to do some sort of pullup, so do some of those. If you can swing across from bar to bar, all the better. Climb poles, vault over barriers. Avoid taking the stairs and instead climb the structure itself. Crawl up slides, then slide back down and finish with a roll onto the ground. Just keep moving as if you’re a kid on a candy-fueled bender. Maybe there are some hot lava monsters afoot, too.

Spend ten minutes doing everything you can think of to move around on and interact with the playground equipment. Ten minutes is long enough to get a great workout but short enough to evade suspicion.

5. Burpee Ladder

The burpee is a simple yet humbling exercise. You begin with a pushup – that’s easy enough, right? – and spring up to the bottom of a squat, then stand and jump as high as you can before repeating the movement pattern. The first seven or eight burpees are always pretty easy, because you’re so focused on doing the movement that you barely realize the amount of taxation your body is accumulating. Once you finish that first set, though, the realization that you’re in for a rough time sets in.

Do ten of these the first minute, nine the second, eight the third, and so on. The faster you perform the burpees, the more rest you’ll get until the next set. The slower you perform the burpees, the less rest you’ll need since the burpees will be easier. What do you choose? Where do you strike the balance between intensity and rest? That’s for you to find out.

6. Could You Carry Your Prepubescent Self?

Forgive the convoluted name, but it makes sense when you learn what the workout entails: carrying a weight equal to 1/3 to 1/2 your current bodyweight for a full ten minutes. Use a barbell loaded with the requisite weight, a heavy sandbag, or an actual prepubescent version of yourself. Carry it for ten minutes using any method desired; just don’t put the weight down. Carry it on one shoulder, or both. Carry it in the front rack position, or placed on your traps. It doesn’t matter, and variety is actually probably best.

While merely standing there might seem like the easiest way to reach ten minutes, from my experience you’ll end up focusing too much on the weight and get discouraged. Instead, try walking around. Be the crazy guy who walks around the neighborhood with a barbell. Walk around your yard. If you’re game, throw in a few lunges and presses while you’re at it. Just don’t drop the weight until the ten minutes have passed.

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