Ways of managing stress, staying fit and healthy is something that’s gained a fair amount of momentum over the years, and most if not all, have made it a habit to integrate some kind of exercise regimen into their often overburdening routines. Someone who’s very passionate about diet, health and exercise, unfortunately may not get the amount of time they need to completely satisfy their fitness goals. However, that’s not to say that it can’t be done. There are ways to make a workout fruitful, and I’m going to shed light on a method that’s not only becoming more widely accepted but also highly effective. Read on.

When you ask most people: “How do you stay fit?” or “What’s the best way to lose unwanted lard”? You usually get to hear responses like: “Oh, I put in at least an hour per session” or “I engage in a 30 to 45-minute cardio session”. Unfortunately, folks with a hard pressed schedule can often afford no more than 20 minutes to work out. Here’s what you need to know: a steady state 30-minute or longer, cardio session is very good for burning off body fat; however, a shorter, relatively more intense workout can get your body to burn even more calories in some cases AND markedly jack up your resting metabolic rate.

We’re going to use the treadmill as an example. So you’re into the first 2 minutes, walking at a steady pace. Not too fast, but not too easy either. For the average person, usually something between 5 and 6 km/h, is considered “normal pace”. If you’re a 6 footer, or taller, you can always keep this between 6 and 7 km/h. Now, the idea is to get the blood moving and have your core temperature increase, so your body can be prepared for the intense bout ahead. Therefore, the first 3 to 5 minutes are going to be spent focusing on increasing your heart rate and getting it in a certain zone – at least between 60 and 70% of your maximum heart rate. Most cardio equipment comes with sensors that indicate just that, but may not be accurate at times. As a general rule of thumb, if you are breathing at a steady rhythm and still have a full conversation with someone, chances are your heart rate is fairly below 75%. On the other hand, if you can practically hear your heart thudding in your ears, then you are quite obviously nearing 90% or higher.

After the 5 minute warm up, we’re going to continue the work out and start jogging at a moderate pace to warm up the joints, and get both the Type I (endurance) and Type II (power) muscle fibers to fire up properly. The bulk of your work is going to be relying on the power fibers, just so you know. Jog for no more than 2 minutes at a regular pace. Now slow down the pace, walk slowly for just a minute. Take in deep breaths because you’re about to make an all out effort. The moment that minute expires, you’re springing into action: set a pace that allows you to run as fast as possible, while maintaining strict form and breathing technique. Most seasoned runners and sprinters can sprint well over 20 km/h with ease. This may vary though, according to height and bodyweight. So you’re sprinting for at least 20 to 30 seconds, making full use of your power fibers. Now back off completely for 90 seconds (60 seconds, if you can handle it), during which you’re walking at a steady pace again, a pace that allows you to control your breathing and heart rate. Repeat this drill until you reach the 17-minute mark. You can use the remaining 3 minutes to cool down and get a handle on your heart rate.

This is a classic example of HIIT (high intensity interval training), and can be easily done on an elliptical or stationary bike as well, for starters.