The Power Half-Hour

The Power Half-Hour

Trying to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break can be tough. But you can get an intense workout in just 30 minutes, says Chicago strength coach Brian Grasso. The key? Keep your game-plan flexible.

Any (and all) of them will do. “You need to do what’s known as an indoor fartlek,” says Grasso. Rotating among the equipment with no rest periods keeps your body challenged and your interest high. You don’t have enough time to get bored.

Spend five minutes each on the bike, the elliptical machine, the treadmill, and the Stairmaster—or any four pieces of cardio equipment your gym happens to offer. The particular order doesn’t matter, says Grasso, so start with your least favorite apparatus. “You’ll be at your freshest, and there’s something invigorating about having tackled something you hate,” says Grasso.

Do a two-minute warm-up on the first machine, then your first five-minute set. The intensity will depend on your own fi tness level, but Grasso recommends using a scale: If 10 is the absolute hardest you can work, aim for a 7 or 8. Then jump to another available apparatus for a full fi ve minutes, then another. On your fourth and final machine, perform your full, intense 5 minutes, then a 2- to 3-minute cooldown.

Don’t let a crowded gym wreck your workout. “Come prepared for occupied equipment,” says Grasso. Your best bet is to search out a jump rope. That way, if the apparatus you had your eye on is being used, you can spend the next five minutes jumping. “Most gyms will have some open space that you can use,” he says, “and jumpingrope is a great calorie burner.”

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