Here’s a guilty confession: Some days I just can’t find the time to work out.

Yes, even though I am surrounded by fitness equipment for a good part of most days, finding constructive time to actually use it on myself can be a real challenge.

So I totally relate to my readers and clients who say they struggle with sticking to their fitness routine because of time constraints.

That’s why I created a time-saving workout formula for myself – and then realized it would probably help others who are in the same boat.

The formula was the result of a get-real moment I suffered a couple weeks ago, when I found myself sucking wind, big-time, while teaching a group ex class. Why was I sucking wind? Because I’d basically gone TWO WEEKS without a single real workout.

I think I hid the sucking-windedness of it all pretty well, but after class? I was useless the rest of the day and had to take two naps before going to bed early that night.

Which is not cool. (Seriously: if you want to get into shape fast, start teaching classes because it’s way more challenging than taking them. Not only do you have to do the workout, you have to talk the whole time and use big movements in order to motivate your class participants.)

That day was the kick in the pants I needed to get back into tip-top shape. And I needed to do it without long, boring workouts.

Time-Saving Workout

Here’s another issue compounding the problem: I’m tired of traditional weight-lifting workouts.

Like, the thought of them makes me never want to work out again. I’ve done that style of training for so many years that I just can’t get excited every week about doing the same-old, same-old squats, chest presses, pulldowns, etc.

In fact, when I think about how many years I spent doing them, I wonder how I lasted so long?

But the thing is, they’re effective exercises. And because I want to keep as much muscle as I possibly can, they’re probably my best bet to do that.

How could I make those classic exercises fun again, within the constraints of my time-saving workouts?

No problem! I created some mashup workouts, which combine everything I need from a fitness routine – strength, cardio, core work, functionality, and fun – in a single session. 

And yes, they actually are fun! They even have me looking forward to the next session.

Bodybuilding Splits + Cardio Fun

Here’s how the whole thing works. Because I want to preserve as much muscle as I can (always a struggle!), I took a classic weight-training split, which focuses on different body parts on different days of the week.

This might sound confusing (and if it does, just skip ahead to the actual format), but trust me, it isn’t.

Each workout consists of supersets or circuits, which are done back-to-back with no break until you reach the end of the circuit, and then repeated again for a certain number of sets.

What I did for these mashup workouts is put in a quick cardio burst at the end of each superset, and then a longer cardio session between supersets. 

Below are a couple examples, which you will see are infinitely customizable and super sweaty. 

Also, if you’re limited on equipment, no worries … just sub out different cardio bursts. There is a list of examples below the workouts.

As always, be sure to warm up and cool down thoroughly before/after you work out. If something hurts, don’t do it, and be sure to listen to YOUR body and pace yourself.

Back & Biceps Workout

Use the heaviest weight you can with proper form.

Superset 1

  • Assisted pull-ups, as many as possible
  • 1-arm cable row, 10 each side
  • Barbell biceps curls, 12
  • Mini-trampoline jumps, 1 minute
  • Repeat 3 times 

5 minutes stairclimber

Superset 2

  • Wide-grip pulldown, 12
  • Rear delt raises, 12
  • Dumbbell curls, 12
  • Jump rope, 1 minute
  • Repeat 3 times

5 minutes stairclimber

Superset 3

  • Stability ball lower body extensions, 10
  • High cable biceps curls (or TRX curls), 10
  • Repeat 3 times (no cardio burst for this one)

If you have time, you can add some plank variations to finish it up.

I don’t know exactly what this woman is doing, but I’m going with this: she is grateful for the workout these gloves are going to help her achieve.

Legs & Core Mashup Workout

Superset 1

  • Front squats, 15
  • Heel Clicks, 10
  • Hanging Leg Raises, 10
  • Heavy bag drills, 1 minute
  • Repeat 3 times

5 Minutes elliptical

Superset 2

  • Dumbbell lunges, alternating sides, 10 each side
  • TRX squat jumps, 12
  • Russian twist holding medicine ball, 15 each side
  • Battle rope drills, 1 minute
  • Repeat 3 times

5 Minutes elliptical

Superset 3

  • Straight-leg deadlifts, holding dumbbells, 10
  • Plank jump through (from plank position, “jump” your legs forward so your feet are near your hands, then jump back), 10
  • Wall sit, 45 seconds
  • Heavy bag drills, 1 minute

How To Create Your Own Time-Saving Workout

I can hear you now: OK, that’s great, Wendy, but I don’t have a whole bunch of equipment at my disposal.

That’s fine. You really don’t need that much. 

The longer, five-minute intervals?

You can use pretty much any kind of cardio machine at your disposal: treadmill, elliptical, bike, stairclimber, rowing machine. You can jog. You can dance. You can create your own little kettlebell circuit. It simply has to be something that’s not too intense but that keeps your heart rate in its fat-burning range (lower-intensity cardio).

For the shorter, more intense bursts at the end of each superset, check out this quick list of possibilities:

  • jump rope
  • jumping jacks
  • burpees
  • mountain climbers
  • standing mountain climbers
  • shadow boxing (if you don’t have a bag)
  • kettlebell or dumbbell swings
  • high knees
  • running in place
  • battle ropes
  • windsprints 
  • broad jumps (jump forward, jog back, repeat)
  • tall box step-ups
  • medicine ball squat to toss
  • bench hop overs (hands on bench, hop legs over, from one side to the next)
  • soccer ball (or bench) toe-touches
  • carioca/side-shuffles

You get the idea, right? Basically, it’s anything that adds a little “oomph” to the workout via a cardio burst. 

All you have to do is plug those exercises into a weight-training workout and you’re good to go.

Lemme Know …

Honestly, I love these two workouts and they’re some of my favorite go-tos now. Try them yourself, and let me know how they work for you.

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