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Only Have 20 Minutes? - Fast & Efficient Endurance Workout Substitutes

Updated: Feb 22


fitbit fitness tracker watch for workouts

Has this ever happened to you? Your workout plan calls for a 45-minute swim, 10K run, or spin session on the bike. But your Zoom call ran late, you need to pick up the kids from Grandma’s and you only have about 20 minutes?


What can you do that would be time-efficient and beneficial without having to scrap your training plan session?

Let’s start with the less obvious: Meditation and Napping.


Female Special Needs Athlete Mediating

As simple as laying on the floor, closing your eyes, and thinking of nothing is, mediation isn’t that easy. As soon as you shut your eyes, those lists will come flashing into view.


Relax and let them go. Just enjoy the simple pleasure of absolutely nothing. It will help clear your mind and relax the body. Perfect for recovery.


Yes, napping is the new training. Your body repairs and rebuilds while you sleep, so give it an extra boost with a 10-20 minute nap.


Longer than that becomes deeper sleep and you may have trouble waking up or sleeping later.


Some of the greatest characters and high performers in history were famous nappers- Churchill for one.


Not a great triathlete, but always full of energy.


Now for the more familiar: core strength, stretching, walking, and time management.

Core and Strength Exercises

Female Endurance Runner Plank Workout

You can do planks, sit-ups, and push-ups in your pajamas, sweats, or work clothes, which are often the same thing these days.


You could do planks during your morning coffee break, sit-ups before lunch, and push-ups before you head out to get the kids or run your errands.


Each lasts only a few minutes. Add some wall squats or standing squats and you have got yourself a full-body strength session completed for the day.


Stretching, Yoga


Female Triathlete doing yoga pose near open water

Yoga and stretching don’t need to be a 1-hour session in a studio.


At any time of the day, you can do some simple forward folds to loosen the hamstrings, adopt the sleeping baby pose to stretch out the lower back, or downward dogs to work those legs, hips, and shoulders.


The figure-four stretch is always good to loosen up the piriformis - a source of problems for many runners and cyclists.


Everybody has their favorite muscle group that always tightens up – work on that area and enjoy a relaxing stretch for 5- 10 minutes.


Brisk Walk


A 10-20 minute walk can be a great way to get the heart pumping, breathe in some fresh air, and mentally unload.


The psychological benefits are as valuable as any aerobic training you might be missing.


Go Early/Stay late


If you find that you are frequently time-crunched, then take a look at your daily schedule and life commitments to see how you could better balance your priorities.


If you are overloaded with work, family, life issues, then take the proper time to take care of them – endurance training will always be there when you are ready.


If it’s a time management issue, then maybe get out of bed 30 minutes earlier and get the workout done before everything else comes crashing in for the day.

This is a reprint of the original article published on USAT By Peter Foster | Oct. 22, 2020