How can I stay in shape while reading myself blind in grad school?
November 10, 2008 8:08 PM   Subscribe

I have way less time to work out now. How can I make my work outs count?

I know, I know, there are a gazillion exercise questions on AskMeFi, but I swear mine is different. I spent the past three years working out a pretty decent amount. I usually made it to the gym five or six times a week, doing two days of HIIT (running), two days of weight training with a personal trainer, and sometimes one day of pilates or something like it. I'm working on my Ph.D. now, however, while working part time, and between everything I have going on, I just cannot spend that much time working out anymore. I make time to work out three or four times a week, but I'm lucky if I get a full hour in, and I have to get up super early to do it, leaving me with not all that much energy as I usually also have to stay up pretty late to get all my studying done. I've definitely noticed the difference, and have generally gotten flabbier over the past months. What can I do to get the most out of the workout time that I am able to eke out? Is there any way to deal other than just coming to terms with a spare tire? Help!
posted by lxs to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Intervals will be the least time consuming way to acheive your goals.

Glycolysis byproducts correlate with the hormonal response after a workout, the lower your blood ph the more growth hormone is released. A significant amount of growth hormone, as in similiar to the amount they give children with growth disorders. This isn't speculation, clinical research has been done on the subject, and there is some conjecture that this is the mechanism that keeps athletes like sprinters, basketball players and soccer players leaner (less bodyfat) than marathon runners.

Intervals are easy and can be done with anything, just do something at a high intensity for 1-3 minutes, and then take a short rest (30-60 seconds) and move to the next exercise. here are a few examples.

Workout time: 24 minutes
Pick four exercises (like squats, pushups, lunges and pullups), do 12 squats, rest 30 seconds, do 12 pushups, rest 30 seconds, do 12 lunges, rest 30 seconds, do 12 pullups, rest 30 seconds, repeat until you've done each exercise 4 times.

Workout time:
Pick any exercise machine (rowing, stairmaster, elliptical, bike, treadmill), and repeat the following 6 times, 3 minutes of going 80% as fast as you can, 1 minute at 20% of your max.

Workout time: 10 minutes
Find a staircase, run up it and walk down it until you want to die.

Workout time: 4 minutes
This protocol is named tabata after the japanese researcher who wrote this paper. It's very simple, pick any exercise (squats, pushups, burpees, picking up sandbags, carrying a box, it doesn't matter as long as it involves a lot of muscles), and do the following 8 times: 20 seconds of as many reps as you can comfortably do, 10 seconds of rest.
posted by zentrification at 8:49 PM on November 10, 2008 [6 favorites]

If I could only do one exercise, it would be the clean and jerk. We're talking about just about every major muscle group. Do a pull-up and you've got them all, I believe.

WARNING: If you don't know how to do the Olympic lifts, you need to find someone to teach you. If you don't know how to do it, and you try it with too much weight, you could seriously hurt yourself. (YouTube is not a qualified teacher here)
posted by zhivota at 9:44 PM on November 10, 2008

I strongly recommend bike commuting. It turned 40 minutes of otherwise dead time in my day (a commute) into some good exercise time. If you're in a rainy or snowy area, get appropriate gear so that you're less likely to skip it on bad weather days.
posted by zippy at 11:06 PM on November 10, 2008

Do exercises which you can't maintain for more than two solid minutes. Some fairly hard exercise examples would be mountain climbers, medicine ball pushups, burpees, extending arms fully and rotating in slow circles with weights, sit ups which extend into full jumps, downwards bridges while jumping jacks with your legs, two foot step ups, etc.

5-6 reps should leave you gasping for air in 15 minutes. Note that this will keep your muscles and lungs in shape, but will not actually burn a whole lot of calories like hours of running will. There is no time-efficient alternative to caloric restriction if you want to get rid of a spare tire.
posted by benzenedream at 11:37 PM on November 10, 2008

Or! Exercise while reading, as per this thread...
posted by lemonade at 8:52 AM on November 12, 2008

Burpees? Jump rope? Interval training? Cross-Fit? Check out the Filthy-Fifty. I cut it down to what I call the Dirty-Thirty. If you don't feel like puking after your done, your not going hard enough.
posted by jasondigitized at 10:17 AM on November 12, 2008

video link doesn't work. Search YouTube or Google for Filthy Fifty.
posted by jasondigitized at 10:19 AM on November 12, 2008

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