The Best Workout for Busy Moms.

Sometime between work, packing the kid’s lunches, and shuttling your children to and from school, you've managed to set some time aside for a daily workout. The problem is it never seems to be enough time to finish your workout.  

Being raised by a single mother I understand how difficult it is for moms to find time to focus on their own health. Balancing family and work life often requires putting others first and sacrificing your workout time.

For my clients who are busy moms I always recommend doing HIIT workouts on their bustiest days. HIIT workouts only require a few dumbbells, a yoga mat, and 25-30 minutes. This post will focus on helping you design a successful HIIT workout routine and give you an example of a few great routines to get you started.

Four components of a successful HIIT routine

1. know your work to rest ratio

A work to rest ratio is the ratio of time spent exercising to time spent resting. HIIT workouts are effective because they condense a normal workout in to a short period of time by limiting how much rest you get between exercises. When doing a HIIT workout your goal is to always rest as little as possible between exercises. Limiting rest helps maintain a high heart rate and increases the amount of calories you burn per minute.

Work to Rest Ratio Example

Doing jump squats for 60 seconds non stop then taking 120 seconds of rest recover. This gives you a 1 to 2 work to rest ratio. The lower the rest portion of the ratio the greater the intensity of the workout.

You can also combine multiple workouts before resting. For instance 30 seconds squats, 30 seconds push ups, 30 seconds burpees, then 90 seconds rest.

General guide for work to rest ratios based on fitness level

  • beginners: 1 to 2

  • intermediate: 1 to 1

  • Advanced: 2 to 1 or greater

When setting up a workout program start with an easy work to rest ratio of 1 to 2 and overtime as the workout gets easier start moving to a harder work to rest ratio where you workout for longer than you rest.

2.   Use compound exercises

Compound exercises are exercises that involve more than one joint. These exercises target large muscle groups and require more energy to preform . Examples of compound exercises are jump squats, push ups, and pull ups. The opposite of compound exercises are single joint exercises, these exercises only target small or single muscle groups. Examples of single joint exercises are bicep curls, crunches, and calve raises. When setting up a HIIT routine make sure at least 50 percent of the exercises are compound exercises. This will help to elevate our heart rate and stimulate more muscle during your workout.

3. Use some form of resistance training.

Resistance training is a must in any workout routine because it stimulates lean muscle growth. Adding lean muscle is the best way to ensure any lost body fat doesn’t return. A simple set of dumbbells or Resistance bands is all that’s needed.

4. Plan for progressive overload

Progressive overload is the gradual increase in stress placed upon the body. As you progress though a fitness program you will notice fat loss, increased endurance, and improved strength. If you continue with the same exercise program you will eventually hit a plateau and stop seeing results. This is because your body is adapting to counteract the stress of exercise. Planned progressive overload helps to avoid the dreaded Plateau by gradually increasing exercise intensity overtime.

There are only 3 ways to increase exercise intensity, increase the time spent working out, increase the amount of wight lifted, or decrease rest time between sets. Since this post is about time sensitive workouts the only way increase intensity during a 25 -30 minute HIIT routine is to incorporate weight training and decrease the the amount of rest between sets.

To insure that you don’t hit a plateau in your workout routine:

  • Use free weights or resistance bands and increase the weight or resistance over time.

  • Write down your workouts and keep track of your progress to try and beat previous workout results.

  • Aim to reach a work to rest ratio where you work twice as long as you rest.

Now that you know how to set up a killer workout routine time to plan your week out.

I suggest everyone start off by doing three full body HIIT routines a week with a rest day in between. As your endurance improves you can start moving up to 4 or 5 days a week. You can also make HIIT routines body part specific by doing an upper body HIIT routine or a lower body HIIT routine.

Even on a tight schedule you should be able to fit in 25-30 minutes of exercise a few days a week. If you still have trouble with motivation or don’t have time to plan and make your own routine i suggest getting trainer. Since HIIT routines are roughly 25-30 minutes in length, trainers can usually fit these types of training sessions in their schedule last minute. This is what i offer to my clients who are busy moms and on the go a lot.

INTERMEDIATE HIIT workout Routine Examples

Full Body HIIT

Circuit A: 3 rounds: work to rest ratio 3 to 2

  • 30 seconds Push ups (on knees if needed) 

  • 30 seconds squat jumps 

  • 30 seconds Bicycles 

  • 60 seconds rest

Circuit B: 2 rounds: work to rest ratio 2 to 1

  • 30 seconds lunges in place 

  • 30 seconds mountain climbers 

  • 30 seconds plank on forearms 

  • 30 seconds alternating side lunges 

  • 30 seconds jump squats 

  • 30 seconds Plank Jacks 

  • 90 seconds rest

Circuit C: 2 rounds: work to rest ratio 2 to 1

  • 30 seconds squat to press 

  • 30 seconds renegade row 

  • 30 seconds shoulder press 

  • 30 seconds lateral shoulder raise 

  • 30 seconds dips 

  • 30 seconds superman’s

  • 90 seconds rest

Upper Body HIIT

Circuit A. Repeat 3 times

  • 30 seconds burpees

  • 30 seconds Butt kicks

  • 30 seconds pushups

  • 90 seconds rest

Circuit B repeat 2 times

  • 30 seconds Curl to press

  • 30 seconds jumping jacks

  • 30 seconds lateral raises

  • 30 seconds plank push ups

  • 90 seconds rest

Circuit C repeat 3 times

  • 20 seconds Superman’s

  • 20 seconds push ups

  • 20 seconds shoulder taps

  • 20 seconds crunches

  • 20 seconds leg lifts

  • 20 seconds jump squats

  • 60 seconds rest

Lower Body HIIT

Circuit A. Repeat 3 times

  • 30 seconds burpees

  • 30 seconds Squats with weight

  • 30 seconds RDLs with weights

  • 90 seconds rest

Circuit B repeat 2 times

  • 30 seconds wide squats

  • 30 seconds jumping jacks

  • 30 seconds narrow squats

  • 30 seconds jumping jacks

  • 90 seconds rest

Circuit C repeat 3 times

  • 60 seconds lunges

  • 45 seconds rest

Circuit D repeat 2 times

  • 30 second plank

  • 30 second glute bridge

  • 30 second V ups

  • 30 seconds rest