Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Fitness Tip - Quality vs Quantity

Quick and efficient are two words that almost completely describe the type of workouts that I like to do - both with myself and with my clients.  More time in the gym doesn't equate to better results.  Honestly, chances are the people who DO spend hours at the gym are either working their jaw a bit too much (aka the social butterfly) or taking too much rest in between exercises.

We've all seen "that" gym member... does a few leg press reps, takes a break to watch SportsCenter highlights on the TV overhead (while still laying in the leg press machine), starts texting on their cell... meanwhile you've completed half of your workout. You should be focused on QUALITY not QUANTITY when it comes to your exercise program. 

Notice I said "exercise program" not "general physical activity"... Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Lagomarsine breaks down the difference here .  Many people wrongly assume that you need to spend a certain amount of time exercising in order to see results.  However, 9 minutes of maximal intensity exercise (using a rest-based approach) trumps 60 minutes of steady-state exercise any day.

Now, of course, if you are training for a marathon or another specialized event then obviously you need to log some mileage to prepare and will need to include quantity in your programming.  For all intents and purposes with this blog post, I'm referring to exercise for the sake of body composition changes.... losing body fat, being able to fit back into your favorite jeans, looking and feeling good in your birthday suit... all that fun stuff :)

Quality exercise doesn't necessarily need fancy gym accessories, or even a gym.  I've actually done the bodyweight workout below in my living room and thought I'd share for anyone looking to do something that doesn't require equipment or much space.  (Although, word to the wise for all you cat owners: beware of them continuously walking back and forth underneath you during pushups like mine love to do.)

The only two things you'll need for this workout are motivating music and something to time yourself with... I highly recommend downloading the Gymboss Interval Timer app if you don't already have it, because then you won't have to keep looking at the time.  No smartphone?  No problem... a stopwatch will work too.  Need some motivating music suggestions?  Check out my Music Monday posts #1 and #2.

Quick & Efficient Home Workout:

  • This workout consists of 3 circuits - each circuit contains 3 exercises - each exercise is timed at 30 seconds.
  • When a new song comes on the radio, perform as many sets of the first 3 exercises (in Circuit 1, see below) that you can complete before the song ends.  
  • As soon as a new song comes on, move on to Circuit 2; repeat for Circuit 3.  
  • If you're using Gymboss, you'll have to input a certain number of rounds before starting the timer.  Assuming each song is roughly 4 minutes, I'd set it for 12-15 minutes just to make sure you have enough rounds programmed.

Remember - this is all about efficiency!  In the words of Metabolic Effect - "Push til you can't, rest til you can" and "If you are pacing yourself, then by definition you are not pushing as hard as possible".

Keep that in mind as you try this workout...

Circuit 1*
1. Bodyweight Air Squats - check out the link for proper form while doing these!
2. Pushups- check out the link for proper form.  If you cannot do full pushups on the ground, find a sturdy table or chair to do them off of. 
3. Plank Hamstring Curls - In plank position (forearms and toes), alternate curling right and left heel towards glutes (keeping knees in line with each other) without moving any other part of your body.

Circuit 2
1. Squat Jumps - Bodyweight Air Squat (see above) then exploding into a jump... watch that form!
2. T-Pushups- check out the link for proper form!
3. Plank Shoulder Taps - Alternate tapping right hand to left shoulder and left hand to right shoulder while in high plank position (on hands and toes; aka the position you're in right before you lower yourself down into a pushup)

Circuit 3
1. Squat Pulse Jumps - Bodyweight Air Squat, hold for 3 (small) pulses, then jump up
2. Jumping Jack Burpee Pushups - Do a jumping jack. Do a burpee. Do a pushup. Jump up. Repeat :)
3. Knee-to-Elbow Plank - In high plank position, alternate bringing right knee to right elbow and left knee to left elbow, without moving any other part of your body.

*New to exercise or just starting back up after a hiatus? Do 3 sets of Circuit 1 instead and gradually add in Circuits 2 and 3 :) **Please check with your physician before starting any physical exercise program.

Me and Caroline perfecting our pushups in our party dresses :)

How do you add quality to your workouts??


  1. Great routine! It's too easy to forget how easy it is to get off your butt and get results.

    I am in the marathon boat right now, so the mileage counts, but a good hard workout is fantastic!

    I add quality by making sure it's hard. If it doesn't hurt/make me sweat, I'm not going to get results.

  2. Hey Kate! Oh I know, very easy to forget... But although we may not always feel like starting a workout, we'll never regret it when it's done :)

    Good luck with your training! When is your marathon?

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