One of the biggest excuses you will hear (or use) about not going to the gym is not having enough time.
People seem to think that all workouts should be hours long and that if they aren’t, it’s been a waste of time, but actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
My own workouts often take me 45-60 minutes and in all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I spent over 60 minutes in the gym from solely working out.
If I am short on time and only have maybe 30 minutes to spare, I still go to the gym but I make it my goal to get as much done as quickly as possible.
In this article, I am going to tell you about 4 of the best calorie-burning cardio workouts you can do, when you’ve only got 30 minutes to spare.
What Equipment Do I Need?
When I’m low on time the last thing I want to do is waste time trying to get hold of equipment or wait for the machine I want to be free, instead, I opt for something quick and easy that I know I won't have trouble with.
All of the workouts in this article are cardio based, so the only thing you will need is access to the cardio equipment in question and a positive attitude to work hard.
1. 30-Minute Rowing Workout
Giving you a low impact, calorie burning experience, the rowing machine is a great way to work hard, improve your cardio and feel great in very minimal time.
One of my favorite rowing workouts, although it sounds quite simple, is actually very difficult and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Row 200m as fast as you can, then rest for 60-90 seconds before repeating.
That’s it, that’s the workout, just remember to pace yourself because otherwise, somewhere around the 15-minute mark your whole body will be aching and you’ll be watching the clock wondering how long is left.
Crank it up: If you want to make it harder try adding 10 bodyweight squats in at the end of each 200m row before starting your next 200m row.
2. 30-Minute Treadmill Workout
The treadmills are often full of eager runners looking to shed the pounds but in this workout, you’re going to need to up the pace a little more than what you’re normally used to, just remember to warm up and stretch off first.
Spend the first 5 minutes gradually getting to a comfortable speed on the treadmill, a speed that on a scale of 1-10, would have you at a 6, from here it’s 30-second interval sprints followed by 30 seconds back at your 6/10 pace. When you get to your sprints it should be at a top level, which makes the run challenging for you, placing you somewhere around 8/10.
Crank it up: If you want to make it harder try going through a sliding scale of 30-second sprints and 30 seconds slower, then 45-second sprints and 45 seconds slow, then finally 60-second sprint then 60 seconds slow. You will need to account for the longer sprints and the fact that you may not be able to run at the same speed setting, but after a few rounds of this I’m sure you will be adjusting the speed anyway.
3. 30-Minute Elliptical Workout
This one sounds simple but you soon realize it’s much harder than you think. Ellipticals offer a great way to burn calories without putting extra pressure on your body and for that, they are one of my favorite cardio machines at the gym. Offering a low impact and posture positive position, the elliptical machine is a great piece of kit to workout on without putting stress on your body.
Another form of interval training, using the RPM settings is a good way to pace yourself and give yourself a target to work towards. The format is actually pretty simple, after getting to a challenging speed you work at 80% of your maximum for 45 seconds staying within a desired range of pace, then rest for 30 seconds at a much slower pace.
Every time you increase the intensity and break into a fast 45-second sprint, keep an eye on your pace to ensure you are actually still working just as hard as you did on the round before, the actual number range is unique to you and may be somewhere in the range of 60-70 RPM, but that is for you to decide, based on your equipment and fitness levels.
Crank it up tip: To make it even harder, every time you sprint, increase the resistance by 1, but don’t turn it back down again.
4. 30-Minute Exercise Bike Workout
An exercise bike comes in many formats, from recumbent to upright to spin bikes or Wattbikes and depending on what you have available, you may or may not be able to do this, but this workout is simple, tiring and will have your thighs burning in no time at all.
This works much better if you have a spin bike and access to some good music, once you do the goal is simple, to alternate between long, strong hills, climbing with increased resistance for 1 minute straight, standing up as you push, before reducing the gears at the top and working at a lower level for 30 seconds, easing the tension in the muscles, before going back to your seat and flat out sprinting again for another 30 seconds.
Each round lasts two minutes and it won’t take long for your legs to feel the effects.
If you don’t have access to a spin bike you can use the exact same formula on another bike, working under increased tension for 60 seconds before lowering the tension for 30 seconds and finally, moving as fast as you can for 30 seconds in an all-out sprint.
Crank it up tips: If you want to make it harder and really push yourself, take out the lighter recover section and simply rotate between 1 minute of hard heavy climbs and 1 minute of fast and powerful sprints.
4 workouts, 4 pieces of equipment and 4 reasons to go to the gym if you’ve only got 30 minutes to spare and you want to see results.
Before you do any of the workouts it is important that you warm up correctly first but also remember, these workouts are not final.
They are designed to be challenging and to help you achieve more in a limited amount of time, but that doesn’t mean they are the only things you do.
You might find that 30 minutes on the treadmill just isn’t for you or that 30 minutes on the rower is too hard, but it doesn’t mean that you cant do 15 minutes of each.
By splitting between different machines and picking two of the workouts above you can ensure you’re working hard for each 15-minute period and you can start to improve your health, fitness and cardiovascular endurance faster than you would have believed.