If you hung out in a commercial gym, and watched people exercise, you’d come to an interesting conclusion: The people there aren’t doing much actual exercise.
A few years ago, one trainer did just that. His finding: For every hour spent in the gym, the average person actually works out for just 11 minutes. They spend the rest of the time chatting, preening, flirting, and “recovering” between sets. And while the idea of, say, a 15-minute workout is probably laughable to many of these folks, a smart 15-minute routine might actually give them better results.
Truth is, when it comes to working out, intensity and efficiency matter much more than length, says Men’s Health fitness advisor BJ Gaddour, who recently created a dozen 5-minute workouts for the first-ever Men’s Health and Women’s Health Beach Boot Camp event, to be held in New York this summer.
What can 5 minutes do for you? Plenty. Go hard enough and you’ll blast out more than 100 repetitions and work every muscle in your body, says Gaddour. You’ll torch up to 145 calories and ignite your metabolism. And you’ll blow off steam and sweat buckets. In fact, this type of training is so intense that we call it "5 minutes of hell." Of course, just working out for 5 minutes won't lead to mind-blowing results. But imagine what happens when you combine two, three, or four of these fastpaced routines into a single workout? (Or 12, like in our Beach Boot Camp!) Those numbers start to really add up.
Ready to give it a shot? Try one of the two workouts below. Unless otherwise instructed, start by using 20- to 25-pound dumbbells for each exercise.
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#1: Two-Move Mayhem
The exercises: 1 and 2
Alternate between exercises 1 and 2. Use the heaviest weight that you can lift 10 times. (For example, if you can complete 12 reps, you need to go heavier.) Perform 6 reps of each. That’s one round. Do as many rounds as you can in 5 minutes, resting as needed. Once you can do more than 5 rounds in 5 minutes, increase the weight by 2 to 5 pounds on exercise 1, and try exercise 2 with your feet closer together or with one foot raised off the floor.
#2: Calorie-Crushing Complex
The exercises: 1, 2, and 3
Do these three exercises as a circuit, performing them in this order: 2, 1, 3. For each exercise, do as many repetitions as you can in 40 seconds, then immediately move on to the next exercise. After you’ve done all three exercises once, rest for 30 seconds and repeat the circuit one time.
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#1: Dumbbell Overhead Shuffle Swing
Hold a dumbbell vertically, clasping your hands around it as you would a baseball bat. Position your feet beyond shoulder width, your knees slightly bent. Without rounding your lower back, push your hips back as you swing the dumbbell between your legs (top). Then reverse direction by thrusting your hips forward and swinging it over your head. As you swing it up, step your left foot closer to your right foot so your legs are together (bottom). Once the weight is overhead, pause for a count, and then step your left foot back to the starting position as you swing the weight between your legs again. That’s 1 rep. On your next rep, step in and out with your right foot. Continue to alternate back and forth.
Make It Easier: Eliminate the shuffle step or simply swing the weight to chest level instead of overhead.
Make it Harder: Increase the weight or speed up the movement.
#2: Dumbbell Blast-Off Pushup
Grab a pair of dumbbells and assume a pushup position (top). Without rounding your lower back, push your hips back until your knees are bent 90 degrees and your head is behind the dumbbells (bottom). Pause for a count, and then explosively pull your body forward to the down portion of a pushup as you straighten your hips and knees. (Keep your elbows tucked tightly to your sides.) Return to the starting position and repeat.
Make It Easier: Don’t lower yourself all the way to the down position of the pushup.
Make It Harder: Increase the speed of the movement or do the exercise while holding one foot off the floor.
#3: Three-Way Goblet Squat
Grab one end of a dumbbell with both hands and hold it vertically in front of your chest, feet slightly beyond shoulder width (top). Keep your back naturally arched as you push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor (second from top). Pause for a count, and then push yourself up to standing as you pivot your feet to the right (second from bottom). You’re now in a staggered stance. Keeping your torso upright, lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees (bottom). Push yourself back to standing as you pivot your feet so you return to the starting position. Repeat the entire movement, this time pivoting to your left. Alternate back and forth.
Make It Easier: Eliminate the pivoting action and just perform a goblet squat, or use a lighter weight.
Make It Harder: Increase the weight.
If you enjoy these, check out all the 5-minute workouts Gaddour recently created for us. You can stack three, four, or five—or more—5-minute routines and create an incredibly challenging and efficient workout. “In just 15 or 20 minutes, you can do more work than the average gym-goer does in an hour,” says Gaddour.
And for the ultimate fitness experience of your life—featuring 12 high-intensity 5-minute workouts exclusive to the event—join us at the first-ever Beach Boot Camp, coming to Long Beach, New York, in August.