Let’s be honest: in the dead of winter, the last thing anyone wants to do after a long day at the office is head back out into the cold to spend hours at the gym. When there are only a few hours of sunlight and it’s a couple degrees below freezing, getting in a long workout sometimes isn’t an option.

If you want to get – and stay – in shape for summer, but can’t sacrifice hours to the treadmill, you have to make the most out of your time. Which means training smarter, and harder.

Work Several Muscle Groups At One Time

“Choose big bang for your buck exercises which will maximise the use of several larger muscle groups at one time, speeding up the process of strength and development” says Dylan Jones, Personal Trainer and Co-Founder of P4body.co.uk.

“This will allow you to lift more weight and promote greater recruitment of muscle fibres. Combination exercises are a great way of achieving this. Try renegade rows, muscle-ups and scorpion press ups for maximum use of your body and its energy systems.”

Concentrate On Dynamic HIIT Exercises

Jones adds, “Keep workouts short and effective by selecting four intense, dynamic exercises and perform them as a circuit of 40 seconds of work, and 20 seconds of rest, for each one. Then repeat this up to four times with a short 60-second rest in between each circuit. As well as ramping up the metabolism, these HIIT circuits will improve cardiovascular fitness and can be combined with alternate day resistance training for maximum effect.”

Brian Flynn, Personal Trainer and Owner of Body Unique says, “When your goal is fat loss and you’re really strapped for time, you have to crank up your metabolism with either cardio or a quick lift. But, why not do both? You can kill two birds with one stone by organising several, multi-joint strength exercises in a circuit format, with minimal rest.”

Increase The Intensity

“Remember, you are trying to create a metabolic disturbance in a short period of time, which means intensity is going to dictate the effectiveness of your workout. So push yourself,” says Flynn.

“A 20-30 minute workout should look something like: jump squat, chin-up, sandbag or kettlebell rotational lunge, dumbbell bench press, kettlebell swing, ab wheel or TRX rollout, groin stretch.”

Celebrity personal trainer, Larysa DiDio adds, “The key is to challenge yourself by pushing harder. A circuit weight training workout that includes total body exercises, with little rest in between, will boost your muscle mass and burn calories at the same time. If you’re just doing cardio, try sprinting, on whatever piece of equipment you’re on, for 30 seconds to a minute. Then rest for double the amount of time. Repeat this three-to-five times.”

One way to do this is to “reduce your rest time,” recommends Jones. “Unless you are at the more pro end of a serious bodybuilding plan, you are probably able to shave off a few seconds from each rest period, totalling up to minutes in any one session. Don’t let it drag. Set a timer, grab some water and get ready to move into your next exercise.”

Work Out Whenever You Get A Chance

“Studies have shown that bursts of 10-minute exercises throughout the day are just as (or even more) effective at improving your health and boosting your metabolism, as hours of working out,” says DiDio.

“A key to keeping yourself the strongest and healthiest possible is to do a variety of exercises in that 10 minute period of time. Include weight training, Pilates, core and even power yoga to get the full benefits of all exercises.”

Jones adds, “Stick to a plan. Keeping workouts short and precise will need careful planning to ensure you get the maximum out of the time you put in. Figure out how much time you realistically have per day and choose exercises that best fit your goal. Write them down before you get started; this will not only speed up the process but will also keep you focused and motivated.”