In this modern world, many of us find we don't have time for everything we want to do and exercise is often neglected. We've got the answer if you want to workout but are short on time.
It may sound like a silly word to us English speakers, but Fartlek is the Swedish training style that everyone is talking about. A type of high intensity interval training, Fartlek takes things one step further by randomising the intervals so that your body can't adapt and you make bigger gains without hitting a training plateau.
The Swedish word 'Fartlek' translates as 'speed play' and that's exactly what you do - play around with the speeds of your intervals. This is done the most easily on a treadmill but you can do it outside too by using a stop watch or fitness watch to time your intervals.
The way to get best results is to change all of the variables - speed, gradient, and time. An example of a 5-minute Fartlek workout on a treadmill is as follows:
Speed Gradient Time 10km/h 5% 60 seconds 16km/h 0% 30 seconds 9km/h 0% 45 seconds 11km/h 10% 60 seconds 5km/h 0% 60 seconds 20km/h 0% 15 seconds 10km/h 1% 30 seconds
This workout incorporates rest into some of the intervals so that it's sustainable but includes some tough intervals so that you get great results. The point of Fartlek is that it's totally random, so you could make it up as you go along if you want to. Additionally, it is best if you don't repeat this exact workout again, instead doing a completely different set of intervals next time.
Due to its intensity and unpredictability, Fartlek training is perfect for those on limited time. You can get a great workout done in as little as 10 minutes which will test your fitness and increase your lung capacity and heart rate. Because you can make it up as you go along, it never gets boring or repetitive and you can have some fun with it.
Tabata training is a very popular type of interval training that works at a high intensity and is done in only 4 minutes. You can incorporate any exercises you want meaning you can target the parts of your body that need work or just use cardio exercises to improve your fitness.
The way Tabata works is 8 rounds of exercises, 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Due to the rest period being so short, your heart rate remains high throughout while still remaining realistic. It's a great way to get a good burn in a short time.
Read more: 10 minute Tabata workout
Read more: Tabata Workout
If you lift weights often and have a goal of building muscle, it may be useful to do cardio on your rest days. Follow our rest day cardio workout for an effective cardio workout that won’t affect your bodybuilding results.
Can I do cardio on rest days?
The short and simple answer to this is yes, you can do cardio on rest days. It is a commonly held belief that if you do cardio, you will ‘kill your gains’, meaning you will break down the muscle you have worked so hard to build. However, if you are smart with your training this won’t happen.
If your primary goal is to build a lot of muscle and you don’t mind being bulky, you do not need to do cardio on your rest days. However, if you want to stay as lean as possible, you may well need to incorporate rest day cardio workouts into your weekly routine. If you think you might be at risk of over-training, it is important to take a complete rest day so that your body can recover properly.
Should I do cardio on rest day?
The question of ‘should’ I do cardio on rest days is quite different, and this depends entirely on your goals. If you are a keen bodybuilder or powerlifter, cardio may be a scary concept to you. You don’t want to break down any of your precious muscle and you just want to lift as much as possible. However, if you find you are getting out of breath walking up the stairs, your cardiovascular system could be suffering, and it’s important to stay as healthy as possible, no matter what competition you have coming up.
In this instance, you probably should be doing at least a 30-minute LISS cardio session on your rest days from lifting. You can keep your heart rate fairly low, therefore minimising the amount of muscle you will break down, and it could help you stay healthier.
Rest Day Cardio Workout
Follow this cardio workout to achieve optimum results and to supplement your lifting schedule.
As with all training sessions, it’s important to warm up properly, even if it is only a low intensity workout.
Holding a wall or bar for support, swing your left leg in front and behind you 10 times, then repeat on the right leg.
Next, swing each leg from side to side 10 times. This will help to warm up your hips and groin, areas that can easily get injured if they’re tight.
Next, perform 10 calf raises to warm up your ankles and 10 torso twists to warm up your core. You’re ready to go!
On a treadmill, start by walking for 10 minutes at a 1% gradient at 5km/h.
Next, increase the gradient to 5% and increase your walking speed to 6km/h for 10 minutes.
Next, decrease the speed back to 5km/h and increase the gradient to the treadmill’s max, this is usually 15% on a standard treadmill. Walk like this for 5 minutes.
Finally, decrease the gradient back to 1% and increase the speed to 6km/h and walk it off for a final 5 minutes.
You have now completed a good 30-minute cardio session which was low impact and yet would still have worked your cardiovascular system well.
As summer approaches there's always more pressure to lose the excess pounds and look your best for beach trips and holidays. Try this summer scorcher workout which is guaranteed to burn tons of calories and get you fit for summer.
How it works
This is a type of circuit workout, but instead of doing each exercise for a certain amount of time, you do a set number of reps and use a stop watch to time how long it takes you to complete the entire workout. Once you've completed it, try it again the following week to see if you can improve on your time!
For the first exercise, you do 10 reps. Then 9 reps for the second exercise, 8 reps for the third, then 7 reps, 6 reps, then 5. After the 5 rep exercise, you go back up; so you do the 6 rep exercise again, then 7, then 8, 9, 10.
You can rest whenever you need and for as long as you need. The point is to keep doing the workout each week and improve your fitness so that after a while, you don't need to rest as much (if at all!) and can smash through the workout in a much quicker time than your first attempt.
This is a complete full-body workout and will target every part of your body so that you get great all-round tone while also working your lungs and heart to improve your fitness and burn maximum calories. This workout includes some weighted exercises and some body weight exercises. All of these exercises can be done at the gym or at home, so long as you have dumbbells and a kettlebell at your disposal.
10 reps - Dumbbell Burpees
For this exercise you will need a pair of dumbbells in a fairly light weight. Anything from 2kg to 6kg will be plenty. Hold one dumbbell in each hand, bend down so that they rest on the floor, then jump your legs back while still holding the dumbbells in place. Jump your legs back in and stand up with the dumbbells still by your side. As you stand fully upright, push both dumbbells to the ceiling and then return to your starting position. That's one rep.
9 reps - Jumping Lunges
Drop into a lunge on one leg, then jump into a lunge on the other leg. Use your arms to help with balance and momentum and make sure you keep good form on each and every lunge. One rep is a lunge on each leg, so you will do 18 lunges in total.
8 reps - Kettlebell Swings
This exercise is a classic and for good reason, it works the back and core while also targeting the legs and arms. Use a heavy enough weight and you'll be feeling the effects in your lungs and heart too!
Start by holding a kettlebell with both hands in front of you. Bend your knees and swing the kettlebell between your legs and then up above your head. You can swing it high than eye level, but shoulder-level is safest, especially if you are a beginner. Keep the movement controlled throughout and do not let the kettlebell pull your shoulders forward as it swings down each time. Keep your back straight and your core tight. 8 reps!
7 reps - Jumping Squats
This exercise will target all parts of your legs and give you great tone and definition while also challenging your cardio fitness. Drop into a squat, then as you come up, jump as high as possible. Keep your ankles and knees flexible and try to make the movement as fluid as possible. As with the jumping lunges, use your arms for momentum and to help with balance.
6 reps - Inch Worm With Upright Row
To start this exercise, place your kettlebell on the floor in front of you, keep it the same weight as you used for the kettlebell swings. Bend your legs and pick up the kettlebell while keeping your chest up and looking ahead. Stand up and pull the kettlebell up to your chin, keeping your elbows high and squeezing your upper back.
As you lower the kettlebell, put it back down on the floor, then - keeping your feet firmly planted - walk your hands forward along the floor until you are in a press up position. Then, walk your hands back in and pick the kettlebell back up. This is 1 rep.
5 reps - Burpees
Enjoy the pain!
Once you've done these exercises, go back up the ladder, so after the burpees do another 6 inch worms, then 7 jumping squats etc.
Compare your times to get an idea of how you did!
Beginner - a beginner will do well to finish inside 20 minutes
Intermediate - someone with intermediate fitness would do well to finish between 10-15 minutes
Advanced - someone who trains regularly should be able to complete this workout in under 10 minutes
Elite - an elite athlete should be able to complete this circuit in under 5 minutes
If you're new to exercise, the fitness industry can seem daunting and impossibly complicated. Follow our 5 top tips so that you can wade through the misinformation and start getting fit the right way.
1. Consistency is more important than intensity
One of the most common trends for exercise beginners is to go in all guns blazing and then burn out because it's not sustainable. If you've never exercised before or you're coming back from a pregnancy or injury, you need to take it easy. Exercising as a complete beginner can be a big undertaking and you need to have a plan of action as well as realistic goals.
Focus on keeping up the exercise consistently in a way that you can maintain for the long term. The secret to a lot of fitness professionals is that fitness is their way of life, so try to incorporate your exercise into your daily life. Walk to work or cycle to the shops and make sure you enjoy your workouts so that they aren't a chore. A small, short workout is better than no workout at all.
Read more: How To Set Fitness Goals
2. Talk to a fitness professional
When starting from scratch, it can be easy to make mistakes and believe fitness myths that could send you in the wrong direction. Before you embark on a new exercise regime, talk to a personal trainer or fitness instructor so that you can get some advice to get your started. A lot of personal trainers will offer a free taster session so make the most of this, especially as they may do a fitness assessment for you so that you can see where your starting point is relating to your fitness levels.
Additionally, most gyms will have personal trainers and fitness instructors wandering around the gym, so feel free to ask them for help if you're struggling with an exercise, they'll be more than happy to help you. If you're opting for a group fitness class, talk to the instructor either before or after the class so that they can give you advice and get you started.
3. Don't copy what other people are doing
This is a common mistake to make: you see someone doing something, it looks interesting, so you copy it. However, a lot of the time you will find that they are not doing it correctly or they are performing the exercise with bad form and therefore by copying them, you are picking up bad habits early on.
If you're going to copy someone, copy the exercises and movements that a personal trainer is doing with their client. People do all sorts of crazy and unusual exercises at the gym, some that they've just made up or some that they saw online. Not only this, they might be training for a specific sport or goal that is different from yours, and they may well have completely different experience to you. Avoid copying others and you'll avoid getting injured and picking up bad habits.
Don't copy crazy exercises like this just because you see someone else doing them!
4. Invest in your fitness clothing
If you're going to make fitness a part of your life and you want to get fit for good, it's definitely worth investing in good gym clothing and fitness wear. Seek out brands which are designed by and endorsed by athletes as this activewear will be intelligently designed with the wearer in mind so you know that the running leggings won't fall down as you run and the gym tops won't chafe or rub as you move.
Trying to train in old cotton sweatshirts and worn out trainers may be fine to start, but you will soon find that you are uncomfortable and unable to reach your full potential at the gym. Invest in good quality gym wear and you'll be more motivated to train hard and consistently.
5. Don't give up
Research shows that 43% of people expect to give up their New Year's resolutions by February. Fitness and exercise are easy things to give up on when they get hard and then you're back to square one. No matter what, you need to be dedicated. Follow the above 4 tips to set you up for success so that you're less likely to want to give up, and make sure you don't quit when it gets tough as that is when you will start to see results!
Finding the time to workout when you're a dad can be tough, so we've put together this easy Father's Day workout that will get you great results and help you turn that dad bod into a killer physique!
Fat Loss Muscle Building Workout For Men
This workout incorporates elements of cardio, HIIT, and weight training to give you a full body workout that will torch fat, build muscle, and leave you feeling like a god. Try doing this workout 2 or 3 times a week to really see results and get the physique you've always dreamed of.
Our workout begins with 4 minutes of boxing to get your heart rate up, get your lungs working, and warm up your muscles. Tabata is a type of training that uses short, sharp intervals of work to burn maximum calories and get the best results. Your boxing Tabata starter will consist of 8 rounds of 20 seconds work-10 seconds rest lasting a total of 4 minutes. You can either use a punchbag or just punch the air.
Simply punch the punchbag or the air as fast as possible, with good form of course, for 20 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds. Then repeat for 8 rounds! Make sure your core is tight as you punch and keep your shoulders and ankles relaxed.
Most men will have tried deadlifts at the gym at one time or another and know what a great full-body exercise they are. But have you ever tried snatch grip deadlifts? If not, your world is about to be flipped upside down! Snatch grip is a wide grip used for the snatch movement of Olympic weightlifting, also found in CrossFit. By doing a deadlift with a wide grip, you change which muscles you are working and your arms and lats must work a lot harder to keep you balanced.
Hold the bar with your hands as wide as you can. Bend your knees and, keeping your back as straight as possible, pick the bar up off the floor. Keep your arms straight as you lift the bar and lift with your legs and glutes. This exercise will also test your grip so be warned!
Complete 3 sets of 6 reps at a fairly high weight for good results.
Back to our Tabata intervals. Your forearms will be torched after the deadlifts so this will be a real killer! Hit the rower for 8 rounds of 20 seconds work-10 seconds rest. Make sure that for the 20 seconds of work you are sprinting as hard as possible and working at almost 100% effort. Keep your back straight as you pull on the handles and keep your elbows high.
This is our finisher and will be harder the older/bigger your child! Get your son (or daughter) involved to finish off this Father's Day workout in style. Holding your child to your chest in front of you, start with your feet wider than hip width with your toes turned out. Drop into a squat as low as you can. Squeezing your glutes, push back up with your weight firmly in your heels. Complete 3 sets of 6-10 reps, depending on how heavy your child is!
If you have a toddler or a baby, you can make this exercise harder by holding the child away from your body with straight arms. This will really target your abs and shoulders as well as your legs. If the child is older and too big to hold in front of you, they can sit on your shoulders.