Intense fitness: the 30 minute workouts for busy business owners

Salman Kassam runs London-based personal training company Salecca. The majority of the company’s clients are crunched-up office workers and time-starved entrepreneurs. On a mission to get even the busiest business owner moving after Christmas, Salman offers some tips on exercising when time is tight, and suggests some workout routines that can fit neatly into a lunch break.

The small business owners who come to our training sessions are juggling busy professional and family lives, and looking for a time-efficient, practical way to keep fit. Unfortunately, what you get from exercise usually depends on how much you put into it. However, it’s a mistake to think that this means that you need to spend lots of time exercising to see any results. The key to building the body of your dreams is summed up in one word: intensity. Intensity trumps duration every time. In my experience, the majority of people take an hour to complete their exercise programme because there is too much chatting or general people watching! When I train myself, I limit my sessions to 45 minutes, which is the optimal time period for building muscle, which in turn boosts your metabolism.

Have you noticed how Usain Bolt doesn’t carry an ounce of extra fat, even though his races only last 9.58 seconds? Unlike those who do longer distances, he goes flat out for every second he runs. There’s no pacing, no half time whistle or stoppage time for a Mars Bar and a breather!

So here are two methods that won’t take all the time in the world, but will help you take a big step closer to your health and fitness goals.

Method 1, if you're a gym member: 'Push, pull, legs'

1. Find a machine or, if you are more experienced in the gym, a free weight exercise, that requires you to push. Examples include the bench press or the shoulder press machine. Perform three sets of 10 reps at a weight where you won’t be able to complete the last set without losing form or stopping. Take a one minute rest between each set, and record your total (i.e. 25/30 reps completed.)

2. Find a machine or free weight exercise that requires you to pull, such as a pullip or lat pulldown machine. Perform the same three sets of 10 within the above guidelines and record the total. 

3. Perform any leg exercise that you choose! Lunges, squats or dead lifts are amongst the best. Repeat as above.

4. Repeat the programme but find a different push, pull, and leg movement, making your total exercise count six for the day.

5. Repeat this programme once a week for 5 weeks.

Providing you’ve kept to the timing, you should be able to perform six exercises in 36 minutes, whilst covering all the major muscle groups. Ensure that you keep a good record of your progress in a note book. Each week you should be aiming to increase the total number of reps you can do, with good technique. Once you can complete all the required reps (30/30), increase the weight.

Method 2, if you're not a gym member: The minimalist approach

1. Find a park or stretch of road that provides approximately 400 metres of clear running space.

2. Start your watch and sprint (and I do mean sprint), to the end point. Once you are there, perform as many press ups as you can.

3. On completion, stop your watch and record your time. If you're focusing on fat burning, use a work to rest ratio of 1:1, for example three minutes of exercise followed by three minutes of rest. If you are more concerned about toning, use a 1:3 or greater, allowing you to perform more of the body weight exercise after the sprint.

4. Aim to perform this 10 times in the 30 minutes allotted, depending on your fitness level. Perform a push, pull, abs or legs, exercise after each sprint. I would recommend a suspension trainer to help with exercise variety. These can be suspended onto any fixed structure such as fences, trees or lampposts. They are reasonably priced and can be a 'portable gym' that weighs less than three kilos.

Salman Kassam is the Director of Salecca, an experienced personal training company in London, which has helped over 300 clients reach their fitness goals. For more information visit where you can book a free consultation. You can also download the free ebook The Truth About Weight Loss.