The 15-Minute Wake-Up Workout

Photo: Lee See-Ming/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your morning jog: you’ve been doing it wrong. The traditional 30-or-so-minute run, done at a leisurely pace, can help wake you up for the day ahead, but it won’t help you torch fat or bring your heart rate up to a level that will help build your cardiovascular strength in a meaningful way. Upping the intensity, on the other hand, will produce the results you want and help you live a healthier life. Oh, and it won’t take nearly as long—promise. Say goodbye to your old routine and good morning to this first-thing cardio workout.

Jumping straight into a high-intensity workout after a night spent asleep puts you at risk of injury. Warm up with an easy jog for roughly three minutes. Cap it off with an easy 10 jumping jacks and 10 forward kicks per leg to open up your lower body’s range of motion.

The workout
Whether you prefer to run or use a stationary bicycle, treadmill, or elliptical machine, the same basic principles of high-intensity interval training apply. For a duration of 30 seconds, put in as much explosive effort as you can—you should be going at about 90 per cent of your maximum aerobic capacity. Once done, slow down to a moderate effort for roughly one minute. Repeat this interval five times. On the last set or two, drop your effort to about 70 or 80 per cent to allow your body to start cooling down.

Cool down
Finish the same way you began: two to five minutes of easy jogging at an easy pace.

Why it works
Your body only knows effort. Slogging away for an hour on the treadmill at a comfortable pace can indeed get your metabolism going, but the same amount of effort—crammed into a fast, 15-minute workout—can provide you with the same fat-burning, heart-strengthening results in a shorter period. Another benefit is that it also engages your muscles anaerobically, meaning your metabolism will stay on blast for a lot longer that day.

Extra credit

High-intensity cardio is great on its own, but it’s also an excellent warm up for strength training. If you have time in the morning, follow up two or three of your daily cardio workouts with a trip to the weight rack.
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