But especially in big cities like New York, between social media, cultural experiences, and friends, our time has become more precious than ever. The concept of "hacking" various aspects of our lives gains more and more draw as our availability dwindles.
So, how can we get the most ROI (return on investment) for our workout efforts? Here's what you should know.
The minimum amount of time you can spend working out is one hour per week.
Yes, you can still see dramatic results if you only exercise 60 minutes per week. This isn't some voodoo magic—it's actually quite doable if you follow a few important principles.
Tim Ferriss, author of the New York Times best-selling book The Four Hour Body, did a study on this concept, and gained 34 pounds of muscle in four weeks. Pulling from Ferriss' lessons and data I've gathered running the company Vea Fitness, an app that rewards you for working out with monetary incentives, I put together a short workout plan that anyone can do, and see results quickly, with only 60 minutes of workouts per week.
Now that you know the basic underpinnings for how to maximize your workouts strategically, let's review a simple plan that can work for you. First and foremost, get a friend to commit to two weeks with you: Propose, "let's go to the gym twice per week. That's all. We can replace Thursday happy hour with gym sessions, and do the other on Monday or Tuesday. Only 30 minutes for each workout." Easy enough, right?
Here's what you should keep in mind as you commit yourself to 60 minutes of exercise per week.
Go for workouts that exhaust your muscle fully within one set. This is also called "going to failure." Don't do any workout more than twice per week, though. So, if you do chest press, you'd do your maximum weight as many times as possible. Be safe, of course. Start with lighter weight and go until your arms/chest are burned out—say, 15 repetitions. Move up in weight, and down in reps over time, toward eight reps. Take three-minute breaks between workouts.
Count five seconds down and five seconds up. This slow burn gets deep into the core of your muscles and builds them from the ground up. Eliminate momentum, ensure continual load.
Try between four and seven multijoint exercises per 60-minute workout. Multijoint exercises aren't nearly as scary as they sound. It's just any workout that uses two muscle groups. For example, an assisted chin-up uses biceps and latissimus dorsi (your big back muscle)—two joints at play.
Some other workouts you can try include leg presses, dead lifts, overhead shoulder press, bent rows, dips, incline machine bench press, etc. Learn more about multijoint (compound) exercises here.
Exercise your entire body in each workout: This produces most metabolic output and hormonal output. So you might do 10 to 15 of each of these exercises: leg press, bench press, dips, and bent-over rows.
If you have extra time, add cardio.
Cardio can have amazing effects on fat-burning when done correctly. The best way to burn fat is to do it in short sprints. Do two to three sets of 100-meter dashes at speed out of 10 (with 10 being your fastest), either on a treadmill or a track. Take a one-minute break in between.
Here's what I suggest: Remember that it's just 30 minutes per session, twice per week. In those 30 minutes go for a full-body workout, slow sets, max reps, and focus on eating healthy overall. And if you need a little extra motivation, my fitness app, Vea Fitness is doing a 30-Day Workout Challenge from April 7 to May 13, in time to get you light and lean for summer. You can learn more about the challenge by downloading the app or following our blog.