This article is all about how to get fit fast and what kind of exercises you can do to give yourself a massive cardio boost in just 2 weeks.
Getting fit quickly takes effort, but the kinds of exercises you do will make a huge difference.
I’ve used all of these methods to get back into shape quickly after injury so I know how effective they are. If you put in the effort with any of these 7 exercise regimens, you can supercharge your aerobic fitness in a short amount of time.
A word of warning: if you’re starting from a level of zero fitness, if you’re obese, have heart problems, high blood pressure etc, then you definitely need to take it easy and choose a more gentle kind of exercise. You need to think in terms of months, not weeks, to get fit. If in doubt, check with your doctor.
But for anyone who already has some experience in fitness training, has no major health issues and wants to know how to get fit fast after a period of inactivity or injury, read on.
How to get fit fast: 8 ways to give yourself a cardio boost in just 2 weeks
#1 High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
The key to getting fit fast is doing exercises which push your cardio system as hard as possible in short bursts. As opposed to doing slow and steady exercise like jogging, which won’t zap your system and stimulate fast adaptation.
Hill sprinting is a classic HIIT exercise. Totally exhausting, sprinting uphill accelerates your heart rate close to its maximum in no time. Doing a few 30 second hill sprints, with short rests between, will burn as many calories as an hour of steady jogging. And the shock to the system of going totally all-out stimulates very rapid cardiovascular adaptation.
Much of the benefit of HIIT is down to Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Doing high-intensity anaerobic exercise causes a high level of oxygen debt. This means that, even several hours after finishing the workout, your calorie expenditure will still be much higher than normal. The overall effect of this is a much bigger boost to your cardio fitness compared to that gained from steady state exercise.
If you want to know how to get fit fast, High Intensity Interval Training should be at the core of your fitness program. It is the most effective way to get fit quickly, in fact all of the exercises in this list are based on HIIT principles – intensive exercise broken up by short rests, as opposed to continuous steady exercise.
Many of you may have been in a gym and, passing by the spinning room, ventured a quick peak inside. Amid the darkness you may have caught glimpses of writhing bodies slathered in sweat, and heard the sounds of pain. You may have wondered what dark and dreadful things happen in that room.
For the uninitiated, spinning simply means exercising on a stationary bike. But, as anyone who has ever attended a class knows, spinning is an entirely different animal to your average exercise bike workout.
A spinning class is an assault on the senses. The room is kept dark with big speakers pumping out heavy bass music, and fluorescent light effects giving the feel of a nightclub. Just being there gives you a rush of adrenaline and brings out the beast in you. It puts you right in the zone, ready to conquer.
Group exercise is one of the best motivators. In a spinning class, you’re surrounded by others doing the same movements as you and going through the same pain. This gives you a huge boost and helps you push yourself further than you ever could on your own.
In spinning, the tempo is constantly varied by the instructor, who faces you at the front doing the exercise with you. Alternating slow and fast pace, high and low resistance makes for an extremely high intensity workout. Instead of idling along at a steady pace, your respiration and heart rate hit peaks – which is the key to getting fit quickly
Calisthenics means exercises done using the weight of your own body instead of any external weights or equipment. Like pull ups, push ups, unweighted squats, sit ups, burpees, leg raises etc etc. The number of exercises are unlimited and the benefits of calisthenics are huge.
OK, so calisthenics is mainly for training strength. But it’s also a superb way to get fit quickly.
How to get fit fast with calisthenics?
Body weight exercises are quite fast recovery, so you don’t need to wait a long time before you’re ready for the next set. They also tend to be fairly high repetition. This makes them an effective anaerobic exercise.
A calisthenics routine for getting fit fast will pack as many exercises as possible into the workout session, with short rests (20-40 seconds) between each set. Use a timer and be strict about the rest periods. The important thing is that each set should focus on a different set of muscles than the previous set.
For example, if you do a set of push ups then the next set should focus on your pulling muscles, so you could do inverted rows. And follow that up with dips, and then pullups. Then maybe hit the abs with some leg raises before going back to push ups again.
What this does is allow you to continue the workout without exhausting any particular muscle group, so you can keep pushing yourself hard. This puts massive demands on your cardiovascular system – within a few minutes of starting this workout you’ll be breathing hard and sweating like mad. Signs that you’re doing it right.
The only equipment you need for calisthenics is a pull up bar, and maybe a pair of parallettes or parallel bars. You can also use pull up assist bands if you’re not used to doing pull ups. Using gymnastic rings instead of a pull up bar adds a whole new dimension to your training; read our guide to the best gymnastic rings to find out more.
Unfortunately named but superbly effective, fartlek training is one of the best ways to get fit as fast as possible.
Developed by coach Gösta Holmér for the Swedish running team in the 1930s, Fartlek is based on the principle of variable intensity and keeping the athlete’s heart rate at 60-80% maximum. Originally designed for running, Fartlek can, like HIIT, be applied to any kind of exercise.
The main difference between Fartlek and HIIT is that Fartlek is unstructured – instead of fixed intervals, the athlete varies her pace as she likes. The name means “speed play” in Swedish – the freedom you have to vary your pace basically makes it a lot more fun than standard interval training.
A typical Fartlek session includes a slow jog warm up, followed by a steady, hard run and then a fast walk to recover. After this the athlete can mix easy/moderate running with sprinting as he sees fit. Then a cool down at the end.
Fartlek is an awesome way to get fit fast because the varied intensity puts stress on your anaerobic system, while the continuous nature of the workout (you never stop to rest) gives you a great aerobic workout. And by alternating the intensity of the exercise, you burn far more calories than by doing steady exercise.
#5 Circuit Training
Circuit training means doing a series of strength/aerobic exercises one after the other with a short rest in between. As we’ve seen, organizing your workout like this is the best way to get fit fast. Just like with HIIT, you can apply circuit training principles to almost any kind of exercise.
Here I want to talk specifically about circuit training done using gym equipment, ideally in a group with a trainer. Group exercise is the best motivator and having a professional trainer to design the circuit and motivate you ensures you get a great workout.
The best exercises to include in the circuit are ones you would never normally do on your own. Adding variation to your workout stimulates greater gains, and also keeps things interesting. Think unconventional movements done using various equipment like wobble boards, exercise balls, resistance bands and battle ropes.
The exercises in a circuit should complement each other, improve your aerobic and anaerobic fitness, as well as balance and strength – without overemphasizing any one muscle group.
How to get fit fast with circuit training: example workout.
1. Battle rope
2. Mountain climbers with mini resistance band
3. Punching with hand weights
4. Wobble board squats
6. Exercise ball sit ups
7. Plyo box jumps
If you’ve never heard of CrossFit, where have you been hiding? Invented by Greg Glassman in 2000, CrossFit is a fitness regime combining aerobic exercise with calisthenics and Olympic weightlifting. Since then, the CrossFit brand has grown into a global powerhouse, with over 13,000 gyms worldwide.
Glassman describes CrossFit as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity”. A typical CrossFit workout usually starts with some simple warm-up exercises, followed by a teaching section where you learn new skills. After this you move onto the workout of the day, which is performed at high intensity. You finish with some stretching.
CrossFit is the MMA of fitness training, borrowing the best techniques from various disciplines. There’s a strong focus on functional fitness and adapting to whatever works best for your specific goals. Crossfit equipment includes traditional calisthenics as well as weightlifting and gymnastics equipment, including:
Barbells & dumbells, resistance bands, gymnastics rings, battle ropes, pull-up bars, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, plyo boxes.
Training CrossFit regularly is an awesome way for you to get fit fast because of how the exercises constantly vary in intensity and focus. The combination of different exercises like Olympic style weight-lifting, plyometrics, running, swimming, Strongman exercises etc., will continuously challenge your body, forcing it to adapt and get you fighting fit very quickly.
#7 Martial Arts
Doing martial arts is one of the best ways to quickly get into shape. Professional fighters are among the fittest people on the planet because of the intense demand competitive fighting has on your cardio system.
Of course, you may be thinking “I’m a lover not a fighter”. Well, so am I. I’ve never been in a serious scrap, but I’ve loved martial arts since I was a kid. Doing martial arts doesn’t mean you have to jump straight into bare-knuckle boxing or no-holds-barred fighting. There are plenty of no-contact martial arts out there, and even martial arts-inspired aerobics classes like Tae Bo.
Studying a martial art, like Karate, boxing or Judo, will get you fit very fast because the movements are done with power and are super demanding on your cardio system. There’s an equal emphasis on upper body, lower body and core conditioning. Practicing martial arts regularly in a good school, you’ll see your strength, flexibility and cardio fitness improve very quickly.
For getting fit fast, you can’t beat competitive martial arts like Brazilian Jujitsu, Muay Thai or sport Karate, because naturally you’ll push yourself a lot harder when you’re competing with someone else. And you’ll have a whole lot of fun doing it.
How to get fit fast: final word
So these are the best 7 ways I know for how to get fit fast. Of course, there are plenty of others out there. The main thing you need to know is that for getting into shape quickly, you need to apply HIIT principles to your workout. Push your body close to it’s limit several times per workout, instead of just going along at a steady pace. This is the key to fast adaptation.
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