The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: Exercises to save time and sanity

By Kate Richlin-Zack

If you’re anything like most people, you’re not a big fan of exercising. I can’t say I blame you. People love to talk about how great it feels to work out first thing in the morning or how they get addicted to the endorphin high … blah blah blah. If you’re doing it right, working out isn’t fun. It’s uncomfortable and tiresome and there are plenty of other things that I would much rather be doing. Personally, I’d rather sleep late or catch up on all the mindless televisions shows saved on my DVR than sweat it out in the gym; that being said, I also want to look good in hot pants so you can see my dilemma.

Rest assured: staying up to date on all your prime time TV and looking good don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, exercising doesn’t have to be as uncomfortable or as time consuming as you might think. Here are a few examples of exercises that will save time and sanity.

Sprint Intervals
I know. I hate running too. But what if it only took 4 minutes? AND you were standing still for 1 minute and 20 seconds of that 4 minutes? Oh and by the way, you’re getting a good workout?

What you’ll need: A treadmill

What you’ll do:

  1. Sprint for 20 seconds at a 9-10ish Rate of Perceived Exertion (I’ll explain RPE below)
  2. Rest for 10 seconds
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for 8 rounds or 4 minutes

The speed at which you need to sprint is based on Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). RPE is completely subjective and based entirely upon how you FEEL on a scale of 1-10. A 1-2 is something minor. For most people* moseying down the street is a 1 or a 2. RPE of 9-10 is your maximum effort which can (and should) only be sustained for a very short period of time. RPE of 9-10 depends entirely on your fitness level. My suggestion is you start the treadmill at a walking pace 2.5-3 mph and begin increasing the speed at 0.5 mph increments every 30 seconds. Determining the speed that corresponds to your RPE will take some trial and error at first but you should be sprinting fast enough that by the end of 20 seconds, you’re almost out of breath and really feel like, “Oh crap, I need to stop.”

How long it will take: 4 minutes total. No that’s not a typo. It only takes 4 minutes but trust me, this will probably be the worst 4 minutes you experience all day. BUT it’s only 4 minutes. It’s less time than it takes you to shower, put on make up, drive to work, cook dinner, or finish a bag of Doritos. Heck, even most commercial breaks last longer!

Why it works: High intensity interval training has been shown to improve your aerobic and anaerobic systems. Umm what? I’ll save the scientific explanation for another time. All you need to know is that aerobic exercise has many health benefits which include helping you lose weight, improving your immune system, and boosting your mood. You mean those crackpots were on to something that “endorphin high?” Yup. Anaerobic exercise helps burn fat and boost your metabolism, meaning your body will burn more calories even while you’re doing nothing. Lazy Girl, WIN!

Excuse you? “Burpees” are named after American physiologist Royal H. Burpee. They’re also called “Squat Thrusts.” You can look it up on YouTube if you want to see someone actually do it before attempting is on your own.

What you’ll need: Nothing. Yup, that’s right. You just need you and a 5×10 foot space.

What you’ll do:

  1. Start in a standing position. Arms comfortably by your sides. Feet should be about hip distance apart.
  2. Squat down and put your palms on the floor in front of you.
  3. Kick or step your legs back so you are in push-up or plank position. Don’t move your hands.
  4. Jump or step back to a squatting position. Your hands should still be where you put them in step 1.
  5. Jump up as high as you can and reach your hands over your head, like you’re trying to touch the ceiling
  6. Repeat

There are many variations but this is the most basic version and therefore the best place to start.

How long it will take: How many do you think you can do in 5 minutes? Ok now try it and get back to me … See if you can work your way up to a total of 50 repetitions.

Why it works: Burpees are the ultimate total body workout. It’s no wonder they’re used by Olympic athletes and the United States military to improve strength and endurance. You utilize your your chest, arms, back, abs, and thighs … there aren’t many muscle groups left after that.

What you’ll need: An exercise mat, maybe some towels. I prefer to take an actual class at a yoga studio rather than follow a video. Something about the comfort of my own home is not conducive to exercise and about 15 minutes after I turn the video on, I get bored and end up rummaging through the refrigerator or convincing myself that I’ll just watch the first 5 minutes of this week’s episode of “Whitney” … yeah right.

What you’ll do: Follow the instructor (live or on video) through a series of poses that will challenge both your strength and balance. There may even be some kind of guided meditation at the end of it.

How long it will take: Depending on the class or video, anywhere from 30-90 minutes. I usually can’t last longer than an hour.

Why it works: The funny thing about yoga is that most people don’t think of it as a strenuous workout. You roll into class in comfy clothes, breathe deeply, relax, stretch, sweat a little maybe, but at the end of it you feel refreshed. When was the last time you left the gym feeling “refreshed?” Exactly. Practicing yoga is almost like tricking yourself into working out, which is the key to success for any Lazy Girl. In addition to being a total body workout that utilizes muscle groups you don’t use on a regular basis, yoga has many health benefits like improved strength, flexibility, balance, and lung function. It can also help improve your posture and standing up straight actually makes you look about 10 pounds lighter. Talk about looking good with minimal effort — stomach in, shoulders back, chin up. Easy as pie. Mmm pie.

“The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness” is a new column on written by the irrepressible Kate Richlin-Zack. She is a former plus-sized model turned fitness enthusiast who lost about 60lbs in the process. She loves food and views exercise as a necessary evil in her quest for looking good and feeling confident in hot pants. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

*Disclaimer: These workout tips are intended for people in relatively good physical condition. Always consult a physician before attempting any exercise program to determine your level of physical fitness and the exercise program that’s right for you. Use common sense — if you feel extreme pain, discomfort, fatigue, dizziness/light headedness, stop and seek immediate medical attention.

Sources consulted:

Tabata Training
Valhalla Strong
Functional Fitness Facts
Mayo Clinic
Men’s Total Fitness

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5 thoughts on “The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: Exercises to save time and sanity

  1. expliKate says:

    Awesome new fun column. Looking forward to reading more and trying this stuff out!

  2. Lizz T. says:

    LOVE this! All great suggestions. I can’t wait to burp and sprint later!

  3. Great Post! As a Personal Trainer I am always looking for fresh, quick workout ideas for my clients with their busy lifestyles!


  4. [...] excuse! Sometimes known as the Prisoner’s Workout, try to complete 50 reps of exercises like burpees, push ups, and sit ups when you can’t/won’t go to the gym. They require no equipment [...]

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