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How to Do More in Less Time

The One Minute Workout changed more than I ever expected

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BY Joshua Spodek - 10 Aug 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Imagine you did something that took you hours several times a week.

Now imagine someone showed you how to get the same results in a few minutes a day.

And you enjoyed doing it the faster way.

And then you found the results applied in other areas of your life.

You'd probably share those results. That's what I'm doing in this column. I wrote about Martin Gibala and his recent book, The One Minute Workout, here before. Now, I've had time to live it, and it changed a lot about how I exercise.

Most of all: I save time and enjoy exercising more. What more do you want in life: to have more fun, save time, and get healthier?

It will look like I'm writing just about fitness, but I've found the results apply across all areas of my life.

How I saved hours a week while improving my results

I've found fitness incredibly important to life, business, confidence, and relationships. Your results may be different, but those are mine. I've had three stages of fitness in my life:

  1. 1. Indifference to fitness, marked by my step-brother teasing me for being less fit, and wearing t-shirts at the beach to hide my body. This stage lasted to high school.
  2. 2. Enthusiastic competition, marked by team sports from college to a few years ago.
  3. 3. Daily habit, doing self-imposed, daily, challenging, healthy activity as regularly as brushing my teeth, meaning daily without fail.

Stage 2 I did from about 1988 to 2011. For 23 years, playing sports and running marathons, I often exercised 3 - 5 days per week, often for hours each day. I was fit, but it took a long time. Still, I loved the teamwork and improving in my life relative to Stage 1.

Stage 3 began with learning about burpees. Starting with ten a day, increasing as they made me stronger and more fit, I found I got more fit in less time.

By my mid-30s, running became my main exercise. It took hours. I used to run laps of Central Park or along the Hudson River. I needed to put on my running clothes, take the subway to Central Park or run through streets to the river. I'd run 45 minutes or more, plus commuting time.

Meanwhile, I could do ten burpees in a few minutes, with no equipment, independent of weather. In other words, I'd work out in less time than preparing to leave the apartment, let alone actually exercise and return.

You don't have to do burpees to do high intensity intervals. They're just simple and need no equipment.

As I wrote here, I do burpees because I'm lazy and full of excuses. I wasn't being flippant. I reduced an hour-plus several times a week with a few minutes a day.

That's huge!

As I've improved, I've added more, now ten minutes of intense exercise and stretching twice a day. Still, under 20 minutes a day is still a huge savings.

My results: I just checked my pulse: 47 beats per minute. My abs: defined. My L-sit: I can hold it about 10 seconds.

The gift that keeps on giving

I heard about high intensity interval training a long time before, but actually started from Dr. Martin Gibala, as I wrote here before in " 2,192 Days of Burpees."

I mention him now because his book that came out in February continues to help me do more in less time (disclosure: he mentions me in his book, but I have no stake in his work, financial or otherwise).

I recorded my interview with him, which could have been a podcast episode, so I'm sharing it here:

In particular, it gave me ways to vary my workout, since it taught me how to increase or decrease intensity for different results, including shorter workouts. More variety is more fun.

Less time for the same results, plus more fun, gives me more time for other things.

Actually, it gives me more time for everything.