Your life couldn't get any busier, right? But then you go and decide that one thing you're missing is more fitness, especially after those holiday calories make your pants fit just a bit too snugly. If you're a busy person trying to fit some cardio into your life, don't fret because recent research has shown that quick bursts of high-intensity energy are just as – if not more – beneficial for burning calories and fat than a more sustained cardio workout. Here are some excellent moves for a 15- to 20-minute burst of cardio that will leave you sweating:
Warm-up bridges: Lie on your back with your feet planted directly under your knees and your hands at your side. Use your glutes – without pushing off with your hands – to lift your hips up. Lie on the floor (mat optional) with your feet directly below your knees. Keep your hands by your sides and engage your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips off the ground. Slowly lower yourself to the floor again, making sure to keep your back and neck relaxed. Do 15 reps.
Squats with arms overhead: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms straight up and your palms facing each other. Bend your knees and sit back as if you are in a chair. Use your glutes to stand again. Do 10 reps.
Star squats: With your feet together and your arms at your sides, squat down and put your palms flat on the floor in front of your feet and directly under your shoulders. In one move, kick your feet out behind you, putting yourself in a push-up position. Squat low, placing palms on floor in front of your feet, directly under shoulders. Keep your abs tight and your back straight, holding the position for two seconds before jumping back into the starting position. Do 10 reps.
Mountain climbers: Get in the plank position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders, your stomach pulled in and your back straight, forming a straight line from the base of your neck to your ankles. Then, lift your right foot and push your knee up to the center of your body. Switch quickly to your left leg, pushing it up toward your body. It's important to keep your hips level and your wrists directly below your shoulders. Do the mountain climbers for one minute as quickly as possible while still maintaining proper form.
Broadway shuffle: Stand with your arms in jogging position with enough space to move at least five steps on either side of you. During the broadway shuffle, you will run to the side, bringing your knees up in a marching position – as high as you can go – as you move. Do the exaggerated marching movements side-to-side for one minute, moving as quickly as you can.
Skier jumps: Stand as straight as you can and keep your feet, ankles and knees together. Jump from side to side as quickly as possible, making sure to keep your chest lifted so you aren't hunched over and to land softly so as not to harm your knees. Height isn't important – just the speed at which you move. Do the skier jumps for one minute.
Do one circuit and then repeat after a short (two minutes or less) break. The key to this quick cardio workout is to move through the exercises as quickly as possible while keeping proper form for each one and taking no breaks if possible. This will keep your heart rate up and also allow you to get a high-intensity workout in a very short window of time.