Cast your mind back to when you were writing an essay at school, your teacher may have instructed you to consider ‘quality over quantity.’ Well the same applies in many ways to working out. The key to any training programme isn’t necessarily the length of time you spend doing your workout, but reflects more on the intensity of your workout and whether it’s actually effective and achieves its purpose.

You’ll also perhaps be surprised to discover that you could burn more calories though short blast workouts, than longer slower ones. Long endurance CV sessions are great at improving heart and lung capacity and for building a base of fitness.

However, a well planned and thought through short intense workout can be just as effective, as challenging and perhaps more enjoyable. It can even do more to positively change your body composition and potentially burn more calories long after you’ve showered and gone home – due to post exercise calorie burning of which more later. Short blast workouts can also develop stronger and better-toned muscles – and as muscle is highly metabolically active tissue this equates to more calorie burning.


A short blast workout can involve interval training, where you combine faster paced efforts with recovery periods. Or you could complete body weight exercises in a circuit with short recoveries. At the end of this article you’ll find 5 examples of short blast workouts guaranteed to obliterate calories and get you in great shape.

Now, you may be the type of person who thinks they need to do the long slow stuff, but that is more than likely to be a consequence of habit. You may be ‘schooled’ on aerobics and the idea that ‘long is best’ – think Jane Fonda, The Green Goddess or even Mr Motivator.

You may consequentially believe that in order to burn fat effectively you have to train aerobically for more than 20 minutes at a time to achieve a significant burn. However, this is not actually the case. I’ll explain how our body fuels itself during exercise to indicate why and why higher intensity training can be a great calorie burner.

Short blast anaerobic training places little reliance on oxygen to sustain it. Instead it relies on stored body chemicals and a chemical reaction that occurs in the muscles to fuel it. The anaerobic system provides high-powered energy for up to 90 seconds. You use it to sprint 100m or complete a set of weights.

Aerobic energy however, needs a plentiful and constant supply of oxygen and preferentially, stored carbohydrate to create the chemical reactions needed to provide its energy. The type needed to walk or run for long distances.

If you’re training for a marathon, for example, then you’ll need to be put the hours in, by doing long aerobic runs however, if you’re looking at a weight/fat lost, muscle gain, then short blast workouts will work for you.

Many people believe that slower aerobic workouts burn more fat. However, this is not so, fat is burned at all exercise intensities except those at the peak of cardiac output – where carbohydrate is almost exclusively used. What is so, however, is the fact that proportionally more calories are burnt from fat at lower exercise intensities particularly those around the 60-70% of maximum heart rate.

This gave birth to the notion of the ‘fat burning zone’ – which should perhaps better been termed the ‘low intensity training’ zone – the zone that those new to exercise should start with. What really matters in terms of calorie burning is the total number of calories burnt.

So a higher intensity workout will burn more calories – and although the ratio will favour carbohydrate as fuel, because of the intensity more total calories, including fat will be burned. Creating a calorie deficit, wherever the calories come from, will lead to weight loss. And short blast workouts are great at obliterating calories in a short space of time.

Planning short blast workouts

– Use interval training methods with minimal rest periods between intervals.

– Work to a rate of self-perceived exertion of 7-9 out of 10 (see RPE table).

– Use ‘active’ recovery i.e. walk, jog or perform other lower intensity CV exercise between your intervals, this will increase the calorie burn.

– Use compound exercises when resistance training – those that involve lots of muscle groups rather than individual ones, for example, squats and lunges.

– Plan – you don’t have the luxury of thinking time when doing short blast workouts so you need to know your routine before you start.

– Move on when you’re not ready – don’t get into a comfort zone. For example use a weight that only allows you to do 8 to 10 reps with good form. If you hit 12 reps in a set, it means you either need to raise the weight in the next set or change the exercise for that particular muscle group to challenge yourself to see results.

– Be prepared for physical discomfort, but distribute this so that you can complete the workout – if you are fit, then you can empty the tank on the last set or interval.

short workouts-02

5 short blast workouts

These workouts require little or no equipment and you can do most anywhere. They’re perfect when you can’t make it to the gym or to your class. No excuses now!!!

Recoveries are provided between exercises for the first 4 circuits – take longer if you need to, with repetition you’ll be able to reduce the recovery you need and/or perform more circuits. Although you should be working at an RPE of 7-8 throughout.

Give yourself 1-2 minutes between circuits.

The fifth workout uses CV kit although you could always run outdoors.

1. The total body blast circuit

– “Y” bodyweight squats (squat with your arms held straight overhead) x 12
– Plank x 10, 20 sec. hold.
– Push-ups x 12 @ moderate pace over full range.
– Chair triceps dips x 15.
– Superman x 12 repetitions, 5 sec. hold.
– Step-ups x 1 min.
– Crunches x 15.

Do: circuit x3.
Recovery: 30 sec. between exercises

2. The upper body blast circuit

– Push-ups x 15.
– Chair triceps dips x 15.
– Shadow boxing x 60sec.
– Narrow triceps push-up x 10.
– Side plank 30 sec. hold each side.

Do: circuit x 3
Recovery: 30 sec between exercises.

3. The lower body blast

-Walk lunges with arms held straight above head x 60 sec.
– Wall squat sit (bend knees and squat against the wall) x 30 sec.
– 20 metre shuttle runs x 10.
– Single leg calf raises on edge of step/stairs x 15 reptitions each leg.
– Tuck jumps x 15.
– Sumo squats (turn your feet out the side and squat) x 20.
– Kneeling glute kickback x 20 each leg.
– Plank with alternate leg raise x 30sec.

Do: circuit x 4.
Recovery: 10 sec between exercises.

4. The skiers preparation blast

– Double leg box jumps x 20.
– Side lunge.
– Narrow to wide squat jumps x 20.
– Single leg squat x 15 reps each leg.
– Bunny jumps x 5.
– Plank 30 sec. holds.

Do: 4 times.
Recovery: 20 sec. between exercises.

5. Interval cardio kit blast

– Select any piece of CV kit – work to a 3 min on to 1 min off ratio.
– Perform your intervals at a rate of perceived exertion of 6-7 and recover at 2-3.

Do: 3-6 intervals dependin on your fitness.

Want more high intensity workout ideas? Follow this link for 15 more variations.

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


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Lost 45 Kg in Total
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