Quick 15-minute fitness routines for your busy life

Sep 28, 2010 at 11:02 a.m. ET

Women everywhere struggle with finding time to exercise. Between going to work and taking care of the family, our schedules often seemed packed to the brim. But I have good news—getting an effective workout does not mean you have to spend all day exercising. When done correctly, fast exercise routines can be just as effective as longer ones.

In order to burn as many calories as possible, it is important to do quality workouts that are specifically aimed at torching calories and burning fat. An effective way to exercise when you only have 15 minutes is to set up a challenging circuit consisting of 6 to 8 exercises that alternate intense cardiovascular segments with weight training. Perform 2 or 3 rounds working through the entire circuit with as little rest as possible. Remember, you can always modify the exercises based on your level of fitness.

Circuit exercises for home:

  • Up to 3 minutes: Perform a wall sit for as long as you can hold it. With your back against the wall, bend your knees at a 90 degree angle like you're sitting in a chair. Then stay there!
  • 1 minute: Intense jump rope (for an added challenge, bring knees up to chest with each hop)
  • 1 minute: Walking lunges (for added resistance, hold a bottle of laundry detergent in each hand)
  • 1 minute: Jumping jacks at a quick pace
  • 10 tricep presses with a dumbbell (soup cans work well, too!)
  • 20 squats
  • 1 minute: Running in place (bring knees up as high as possible)
  • 15 pushups, modify on knees if necessary

Interval Training

Another efficient fast exercise routine is interval training. With a simple modification to your current cardio routine, you can take a good workout to the next level. The principle of interval training is simple and can be applied to all cardiovascular activities. All you have to do is alternate segments of moderate intensity with segments of high to very high intensity for the duration of your workout. The goal here is to go as hard as you can handle for up to one minute at a time and then recover at a moderate intensity for a minute or two. On an elliptical machine, for example, this added burst of power might include an increase in speed, incline, resistance, or a combination of all three.

For the beginners out there, do not push yourself too hard and take on only what you can handle safely. As you become more advanced, try doing equal parts of moderate and very high intensity segments. Interval training is especially useful if you're short on time because it will increase your metabolism while burning fat and calories. As with any exercise program, take it at your own pace and don't forget to have fun!

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