If you are interested in something completely different, the concept of “circuit training” combines the principles of several cross-training workouts into one butt-kicking, calorie-burning session. You probably wouldn’t want this hard-charging workout to last for much more than 20 minutes, even if you did have the time!
The basic idea behind circuit training involves mixing intervals of calisthenics or weights in rapid-fire, aerobic succession. Pick about five complementary exercises and move from one to the other with little or no rest. Complete 15 to 20 repetitions of each exercise, but use only about 60 percent of your usual weight. For example, do a set of 15 dumbbell curls, followed by 15 triceps extensions, and then 15 crunches. Go right back to the curls and repeat the whole circuit three times. Next, get a sip of water and do a set of pull-ups, followed immediately by pushups and crunches. Then, cycle through squats, lunges and step-ups. Follow that with shoulder presses, upright rows and lateral raises.
Use your imagination (or ask an online personal trainer from LIVE!) to come up with combinations tailored to your goals. Just make sure to work opposing muscle groups and cycle through at least three different exercises, adjusting the weight so you can complete each cycle with good form. Remember, you’re only trying to work up a sweat and burn calories while improving endurance here, so don’t try to set any weightlifting records.
Combining aerobics and calisthenics works great, too. For example, pedal hard on a stationary cycle for three minutes, then hop off and do 25 pushups and 25 bench dips. Without any rest, jump on the treadmill for four minutes of hard running, followed by 40 bicycle crunches and 40 regular crunches. Get back on the stationary cycle and start all over again. Try to complete as many circuits as you can before your time runs out. You may be shocked by how much you can accomplish in just 20 minutes. You may also be horrified by how much of your “regular” workout time you spend just standing around!