Going halfsies

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer

This week, my family is celebrating a rather fun little event: a half-birthday.  My mom, whose birthday is in mid-May, will officially turn half a year older.  It’s a cute little tradition that my parents started when my sister and I were little. We even acknowledged the day with a half-cake (yes, you can actually purchase those at the grocery store!). The sentiment in our home was that there should always be a happy occasion to embrace, all throughout the year. In my current household, we have continued to carry on this tradition as we raised our daughters. Even a half-celebration can turn an ordinary day into something wonderful.

This same premise holds true with your workouts. Clients sometimes ask me if I think it is worth their while to come to the gym if they only have 20 or 30 minutes to exercise. The question is always a variation on a common theme: Is there any benefit to doing just half of their typical training program?  The answer I give them is always a resounding “Yes!”

My personal workouts, as well as those I write for the majority of my clients, are designed to take about an hour to complete. This time frame takes into consideration a certain number of body parts being trained for a specified number of sets and repetitions, as well as rest intervals and often some form of cardiovascular exercise. However, as dedicated as I am to my training regimen, nothing is written in stone. If on a given day, your schedule is tightly packed with work commitments, carpools or family events that cannot be missed, it is perfectly understandable that the gym might have to take a back seat. However, sneaking in even half of your typical amount of exercise will still help you attain your fitness goals.

This is where some creativity comes into play. If Tuesday is your day to train biceps, triceps and abdominals, and you simply do not have the time to spend a full hour in the gym, simply altering your traditional workout to one that incorporates supersets and active rest periods will shave a significant amount of time off your training session. While this manner of training is geared more toward endurance than pure strength, your muscles will still benefit from the “time under tension,” and most importantly, you will not suffer any setbacks when you once again have the time to return to your regular protocol.

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This is a tool I often employ while on vacation, when I do want to stay fit but also want to spend as much time as possible soaking up the sun. It also alleviates any guilt I might have had from recklessly abandoning all time in the hotel gym. When time is precious, this is a great maneuver that proves cutting something in half still lets you have it all.