The 18-minute fitness routine breakthrough

Quick exercise circuit

Get your best body ever, in less time than it takes to watch an ep of Scandal.

Strange but true: neurologists have theorised there’s a reason so many TED Talks go viral – they’re all held to an 18-minute limit; long enough to be meaningful, yet short enough to not bore you out of your mind. Trainer Idalis Velazquez teamed up with Women’s Health and used that

concept to create our revolutionary new workout, All in 18. It torches fat and sculpts lean muscle from shoulders to calves, in just 18 minutes a day. Intrigued? Read on. 

How does it work?
At the heart of the All in 18 plan is resistance training – resistance builds muscle, and muscle means you burn kilojoules after you stop moving. The plan can also help you stress less, sleep better and fend off type 2 diabetes and inflammation. As a mum with little time for herself, Idalis created each zippy routine with clock-watching women in mind. Even better? The sessions require just a pair of dumbbells and a mini-resistance band, and are scalable to every fitness level. They target those areas that we tend to struggle with the most: thighs, core, bum and the backs of the arms. Excellent. 

“After having my second child, I went through a period of not working out as often, and I lost strength and definition,” says Idalis. “I experimented with various methods until I found adding a resistance band to high-intensity strength-training exercises actually rebuilt and reshaped my body.” Science gives a big tick to these bands – studies show they increase muscle activation by about 20 per cent, especially in the glutes. And high-intensity resistance intervals? Research from North Dakota State University suggests they torch twice as many ilojoules as previously thought – more like 108 per minute. 

Disclaimer: these workouts are tough. But, having Idalis in your lounge room with you will make you push yourself. “I believe you work harder with a cheerleader,” she says. One more thing: a lean body isn’t just about exercise – what you eat affects your shape, too. So All in 18 comes with a 21-day meal plan to help clean up your eating. We’ve scattered a few handy food tips throughout by way of inspiration. 

Can you really get fit in just 18 mins?
Yep! Groundbreaking research by McMaster University pitted a 10-minute interval workout against a 50-minute cardio slog with incredible results. The 10-min exercisers tackled three sets of intense bursts with rests in between. The 50-min cardio peeps had to cycle at a steady, moderate pace the whole time. At the end of 12 weeks both groups had reduced their body fat by about the same amount, significantly improved their muscle health and increased overall cardiorespiratory fitness. 

So why did exercising five times as long not deliver better results? 

Intense exercise is more demanding metabolically, says study author Dr Martin Gibala – you experience more ‘afterburn’ from shorter, more ntense bouts. Of course, going longer than 10 minutes – Idalis prescribes you 18! – will get you better results. Follow-up research by McMaster Uni found shorter workouts tend to be uber-effective because they’re more enjoyable than long slogs –meaning you’re more likely to stick to them. “For sedentary individuals, a barrier to exercise is the notion that it’s not enjoyable. Failing to enjoy it can make it more difficult to stick to,” says study author Jennifer Heisz. This fun factor kicks in after a few weeks. To start with, the self-confessed couch-lovers in the short-bout group reportedsimilar levels of enjoyment to those in the longer slog group. But as training progressed, enjoyment for the high-intensity group increased – while levels for the long workout remained constant or nosedived.

And, who’s got time for a hour of sweating between work, kids, catchups and the million other things you do each day? That’s why we’ve designed this super fast program to be as effective as it is efficient. Just 18 minutes a day, six times a week.

Ready? 

Taster workout
Idalis designed the following workout exclusively for WH readers, combining five of her fave moves from All in 18. Two or three times a week, perform each move in order, with little to no rest in between; repeat the routine up to three times in total, resting 30 secs between rounds. To kick your metabolism into serious overdrive, complete the two-part finisher. In just six weeks, you’ll be happily surprised by the results.

1

Banded kickstand deadlift

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a mini band around your thighs and a dumbbell in each hand; step your left foot back and raise up onto your toes (a). Keeping a flat back, bend forward at your hips and lower your body until the weights pass your knees; squeeze your glutes (b). Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s 1 rep; do 12 reps, then repeat on the other side.

All in 18 circuit

2

Plank push-up with dumbbell drag

Place a dumbbell at the edge of your exercise mat, and get into push-up position with hands under your shoulders (a). Brace your core and lower onto your forearms (b), then press back up, keeping your hips

parallel the entire time. Reach your left arm underneath your body to grab the weight (c), and place it at the left side of your body (d). Lower onto your forearms, then push back up and place the weight back at your right side. That’s 1 rep; continue alternating sides for 12 reps.

All in 18 circuit

3

Banded plank walk

Start in a push-up position with a mini band around both wrists (a). Brace your core as you step both feet out to the left, then walk your left hand forward as far as possible (b). Step your feet back in and replace your left hand underneath your shoulder to return to start. Step your feet to the right and walk your right hand forward, then reverse the movement to return to start. That’s 1 rep; continue alternating for 12 reps. Almost there…

all in 18 circuit

4

Curtsy with biceps curl and lateral front-loaded lunge

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, elbows bent and a dumbbell in each hand. Step your left leg back and behind your right, bending your knees to lower into a curtsy lunge (a). Brace your core and curl the weights up to your shoulders as you step your left leg out to the left; bend your left knee and push back your hips to lower into a side lunge (b). Step your left foot in to return to start. That’s 1 rep; do 6 reps, then repeat on the other side. Keep going.

all in 18 circuit

5

Banded squat jack

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, a mini band around your thighs, and push your hips back while bending your knees to lower into a squat. Stay low as you jump both legs out as far as you can (a), then jump them back in (b), maintaining a flat back. That’s 1 rep; do 12.

all in 18 circuit

The finisher

6

Offset reverse lunge and press

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in your right hand and resting on your right shoulder, left arm out to the side. Brace your core and step your left leg back as you bend your knees and lower into a lunge (a). Step your left foot back in, a bit closer behind your right, as you press the weight overhead (b). Lower the weight and bring your feet back to hip-width apart. That’s 1 rep; do as many as you can for 30 secs, repeat on other side.

all in 18 circuit

7

Two-plank jack, one-star jump combo

Start in a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders (a). Brace your core as you jump both legs out to the sides (b), then back in, then out and in again. Spring your legs forward (c), and jump as high as you can as you open your arms and legs in the air, forming a star (d). Land softly and step into a push-up position to return to

start. That’s 1 rep; do as many as you can for 30 secs. You did it!

all in 18 circuit

You’ve had the sneak peek, now get ready for the full program launching may 15! Go to allin18.com.au and for just $49.95 you can download the 18-minute workouts led by Idalis and her team, plus the 21-day eating plan. Dream body coming right up!

Are you game to try the All in 18 workout? Do you prefer circuit or cardio training? Please share with us in the comments section below.

Image credit: @karliekloss
Illustrations: Kagan Mcleod