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Get In Shape Fast With This 20 Minute Workout

Get In Shape Fast With This 20 Minute Workout

Do you find that when you’re pressed for time it becomes easier to skip a workout? Is it a hassle for you to drive to the gym before or after work? After reading this article you won’t feel this way again, no matter how busy your schedule. That’s because I will show you a great muscle building, calorie burning workout that only takes 15-20 minutes to complete. You can do it anywhere too, even your office or backyard.

The workouts are referred to as complexes by strength coaches. Despite the name, they are anything but complex with regard to the equipment, space, skill, or time they require to complete. Keep reading to learn what complexes are along with why and how to do them any time or place.

Complexes – 20 Minute Muscle Building Workouts

Basically speaking, complexes are 3 or more exercises done using the same barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell with no rest between each movement. The exercises you use typically alternate between upper and lower body in focus. They’re most often done while standing. When performed properly you will move fluidly from one exercise to the other.

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Complexes are the brainchild of strength coach Istvan Javorek. He uses them to help athletes quickly build muscle and improve their overall fitness in the off-season. The results Coach Javorek reports speak for themselves. After 3-6 months of training this way men and women he coaches often gain more than 30 pounds and more than doubled their strength. People I train achieve similar results and often lose as much weight and body fat in as little time too.

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to do them or achieve similar results. Anyone can do complexes. If you’re willing to put forth maximum effort and make sure you eat enough protein to build muscle you too can achieve similar results.

The list below details the several benefits of complexes.

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  • Complexes are convenient. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of changing weights or moving from one piece of equipment to another.
  • Complexes save you time. Since you rest so little and don’t have to change equipment or machines each workout only takes 15-20 minutes.
  • Complexes don’t require much equipment. All you need to perform this workout is a dumbbell or kettlebell.
  • Complexes don’t require a lot of room. You can do this workout in a spare room of your house or backyard.
  • Complexes improve your overall fitness. This workout won’t simply make you bigger or stronger. Doing them regularly will help you build muscle, increase your strength, and even increase your flexibility.

The 20 Minute Workout Explained

The exercises in this complex workout are: 1 arm snatches, squats, and shoulder press. Performing a complex with these exercises trains practically every muscle in your body. Your legs, core (abs/lower back), upper back, and shoulders get an especially good workout. You’ll even feel it in your biceps and triceps. My arms got significantly bigger after doing this complex 2-3 times a week for a month. I wasn’t doing any exercises for my arms like curls or triceps push downs either.

Below are descriptions for each exercise. I recommend learning how to do each exercise by itself first. Once you have the movement mastered you can do them as a complex.

1 Arm Snatch

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand with your palm facing away from you. The weight should be between your legs.
  2. Bend your knees and waist as if you are performing a kettlebell swing. The weight should swing back and between your legs.
  3. Once the weight has swung between your legs, pull it forward explosively. Push from your heels onto your toes. Keep your arm straight and extended throughout the movement. You should be on your toes as the weight approaches chest height.
  4. Driving with your hips, pull the weight up until your arm is fully extended and you’re holding the weight above your head.
  5. Lower the weight to shoulder height and prepare to perform the squat segment of the complex.

Kettlebell Squat

  1. Stand holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at shoulder height. Your feet should still be apart at shoulder width.
  2. Perform a squat by bending your knees and moving your but back. Your weight should be over your heels.
  3. Continue to squat down until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Your heels should never come off the ground.
  4. Return to the standing position. Push up from your heels.
  5. You’ll finish in the same position from which you started this portion of the exercise. You’re now ready to perform the 1 arm shoulder press.

1 Arm Shoulder Press

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at shoulder height. If you’re using a kettlebell it will rest against the back of your hand.
  2. Tighten your abs, breath in and press the weight overhead until your arm is completely extended.
  3. Lower the weight back to the starting position of the exercise.
  4. Return the weight to the starting position of the 1 arm snatch.

Sets, Reps and Rest Periods

Begin with 5 sets of 3 repetitions per arm for each exercise. Add 1 repetition per set every other workout until you can do 5 sets of 8 reps. Once you have achieved this goal you can decrease the amount of rest you take between complexes to make them more challenging and further improve your fitness.

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When you can easily do 5 sets of 8 reps with 60 seconds or less rest between each complex it’s time to move only more challenging variations. This can include performing reverse lunges instead of squats and holding the weight overhead as you perform the squatting segment of the exercise. You can also add an additional movement such as the kettlebell swing to the complex.

When You Should Do This 20 Minute Workout

You can do this workout about as often as you like. Doing it 3-5 days a week is most effective.

Another way to add it to your overall workout routine is to perform it on your days off from the gym. This is a great way to consistently train and improve your overall fitness. When doing it with this goal in mind, perform 3-5 sets of 5 reps with a weight you can actually perform 10 reps with so you don’t train too heavy and compromise your ability to recover before your next workout.

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On days I have a little more time to train, I like to do this complex as the first exercise of my workout. Then, all I have to do is perform 3-5 sets of plyometric push ups, pull ups, and farmer’s walks and I’m done. I’ll have trained every major muscle group in my body in about 30 minutes tops.

Conclusion

You now have a great workout that enables you to get in a great total body workout in very little time. Since it only requires 1 piece of equipment it’s super convenient too. Even if you are stuck in your office all day long, take a dumbbell or kettlebell to work with you and perform a couple of sets on during a break. Before you know it you’ll find you’re getting results faster than you ever thought possible.

(Photo credit: Workout Time via Shutterstock)

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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