Before I became a personal trainer, I was a big box gym devotee. I'd go four mornings a week religiously, always staying for about an hour, sometimes up to 90 minutes. When I had to cut my workout short, I got frustrated. Anything less than an hour felt like a waste of time.
But then I discovered metabolic conditioning (or "metcon") workouts, which are designed to be short yet intense workouts. "Only 30 minutes to the results you want!" they all said. I was dubious, but I thought I'd give them a try.
This was around the time that I quit the big gym and turned our garage into our home gym. I started working with clients, often during the times when I used to work out. My time for working out for 60-90 minutes was becoming a rarity, so I had to change tack. I started followed some other trainers's metcon programs for a little while, like Jill Coleman's and Jordan Syatt's DIY programs (both awesome, by the way), and then I started putting my own together.
But early on, I discovered something important.
If I'm only going to work out for 30 minutes, those 30 minutes better be INTENSE.
Heavy dumbells. Rest only when truly needed. I needed to be breathy, sweaty, and have burning muscles.
I also had to break some bad habits I had picked up by listening to music through my phone. I had to stop checking email or social media during a session. No more constantly changing songs on Spotify. I needed to pick a list and leave it there.
I found that if I took a leisurely approach to a 30 minute workout, resting and lingering after each round, I would not get the results I wanted.
So even though I'm back up to 45-60 minute workouts 3 times a week so I can get in my big lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press), I typically will get in one metcon workout a week, mainly because it's fun and it releases a ton of stress. I'll pick four exercises (a push, a pull, a lower body, and a core exercise) or five (adding in a plyometric exercise) and go round after round for about 25 minutes after warming up.
So if your New Year's resolution is to do some 30 minute workouts, make sure you're really going all in for that time. As my coach used to say in rugby, leave it all on the pitch.
Do you do 30 minute workouts? What are your favorite exercises?
Just your average stopwatch-toting suburban mom, looking to make some locals sweat and curse my name.