Why would a sports medicine physician teach fitness classes? It’s a common question I hear all the time.
My belief is that being a doctor is as much about preventing illness and injury as it is about treating these problems after they happen. Across the spectrum of the human body, no drug is as effective as the medicine of exercise. For that reason, I have focused my attention on preventive health using the medicine of fitness.
In addition to my busy sports medicine practice, I have developed the world’s biggest, free-standing, physician-led exercise clinic. My goal is to prescribe the medicine of exercise to my IronStrength community, thousands of people who show up and work out with me every year, and to teach doctors around the world how they can do the same.
Over the years, it’s become abundantly clear to me that intensity matters—so does consistency! That’s why it’s essential for all of us not to let bumps in the road—like holiday travel, too many holiday commitments, or too much time with family—get in the way of our motivation or our routine!
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is all about efficiency and intensity. It’s about how hard you work and how much work you do in any given time period. It’s the perfect workout for someone who has no time. These workouts are designed to hit as many muscles as possible in the simplest way possible. Many of the exercises involve multiple muscle groups and are based on functional movement—they’ll train you for natural movements you do every day.
I define fitness as a combination of cardiopulmonary fitness and strength. The beauty of these HIIT workouts is that they address both components of fitness at the same time and can be done anytime, anywhere.
A 10-minute-or-less workout isn’t ideal, but if you HIIT it hard (pun intended!), it can make a huge difference. Even if it’s been the busiest day ever and you have no time and you have no motivation, just start exercising. Maybe you’ll have to cut it short. But maybe after a couple of minutes you’ll start to feel better. Maybe you’ll get into it more and more as you go. Maybe your mood will brighten. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll squeeze in more time than you thought, or work harder and fit more into the time you have.
Here’s another tip: Choose the workout wisely! Workouts do more than just make you sweat; they can help eliminate the excuses, too. Here’s a short workout that doesn’t need any equipment or even very much space! It’s perfect for your bedroom, a hotel room, or anywhere you have just a bit of floor space. So simple! All you have to do is tie your shoes and get it done. Heck, you don’t even need shoes. Try it barefoot.
For a full-body HIIT workout in just 10 minutes, start with a three-minute warm-up of jumping jacks, pogo hops, and forward jacks. Rest for one minute. Perform these three exercises for one minute, cycling through the set two times.
Then, give these exercises a try:
Stand with your hands on the back of your head and your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then jump as high as you can. When you land, immediately squat and jump again.
Reverse lunge with toe touch
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step back with your right leg and lower your body until your knee almost touches the floor. Stand up, swing your right leg as high as you can, and touch your toes with your left hand. Alternate sides for the allotted time.
Burpee with push-up
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat as deeply as you can and place your hands on the floor. Kick back into a push-up position. Do one push-up. Bring your legs back to a squat and jump up, throwing your hands above your head. Land and repeat.
If you find yourself getting really into things, add on another 10 minutes by resting for one minute and then performing the next three exercises for one minute each, cycling through the set three times.
Assume a push-up position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Without allowing your lower-back posture to change, lift your left foot off the floor and move your left knee toward your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat with your right leg. Alternate legs, moving quickly.
Single-leg toe touches
Stand on your right leg with your left leg out in front of you, raised off the floor. Place your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder height. Bend your right leg at the knee and squat down to touch your left hand to the toe of your right foot, then come back up. Repeat with your left leg and continue, alternating for the allotted time.
Lie faceup with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Place your fingers on the sides of your forehead. Lift your shoulders off the floor and hold them there. Twist your upper body to the right as you pull your right knee in as fast as you can until it touches your left elbow. Simultaneously straighten your left leg. Return to the starting position and repeat to the other side.