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Is there an exercise that could get your heart rate up to around 90% of max in 1-2 minutes? Or if not, or if that's not safe... what's the fastest most efficient safe way to get your heart pumping near the top of its range?

For example, just running in place won't do it. Jumping jacks won't do it. Both those will only get the heart rate up some, but not up high quickly.

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Too many to list. Try a deadlift widowmaker, or very heavy triples. –  Berin Loritsch May 25 '12 at 11:45
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Burpees, heavy-rope jump rope, wind sprints, etc. work for me. What's your reason for the goal, though? –  Dave Newton May 28 '12 at 21:18
    
The only reasons I can think of that this wouldn't be safe are: 1) Pre-existing medical conditions (prior heart attacks, congestive heart failure, etc.) 2) You are more likely to have strains and pulls without a warm-up. –  Grohlier Feb 21 '13 at 15:33
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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Sprinting. Even better: sprinting uphill.

You can do this on a treadmill or outside.

On my treadmill, I'll set it to the highest grade (15%) and the highest speed (10 mph). At these settings, I can barely do more than a couple 30 sec intervals. You will definitely reach 90% of your max in under 1 min. In fact, I don't even know anyone who can go for a full minute at these settings.

Of course, it takes a few times to learn how to appropriately mount and dismount the already moving treadmill, so practice/learn at slower speeds.

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And this includes the mention of stairs since that is sprinting uphill. And maybe I could take it up a notch and carry some weights in my hands. I wish I could accept multiple answer as burpees are a great answer, too. Especially burpees with a medicine ball. –  taotree Feb 21 '13 at 0:25
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Kettlebell swings are good for getting your heart rate up quickly, however, you really need to study the form and perform them correctly or you could hurt your back. If you are interested, look for certified Russian Kettlebell trainers in your area.

Jumping rope is excellent cardio - and as long as you warm up with some jumping jacks, they are very safe.

Another excellent cardio exercise that is very efficient and works the entire body are burpees: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_Dq_NCzj8M

I really like burpees - they are safe and really effective for cardio, and build strength in your thighs and upper body (if you do them with the pushups).

As always, if you are not currently exercising you should take it easy at first - maybe even get a checkup to make sure what you plan to do is safe for you.

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+1 for burpees... –  J. Winchester May 23 '12 at 4:21
    
+1 for jump rope –  posdef May 29 '12 at 5:46
    
+1 for kettlebell swings, especially with one of the heavier ones (53lb or 72lb). –  Simon Peter Chappell May 29 '12 at 17:24
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I find one of the best ways to get my heart rate up quickly is running up and down the stairs as fast as possible. It's a cardio work out that doesn't require a gym or expensive equipment - stairs are everywhere!

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I just realized that I happen to vote down this answer by mistake, now I can't correct that mistake unless the answer gets edited. –  posdef May 29 '12 at 6:36
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I find that the clean and jerk performed at a moderate weight for numerous repetitions is unmatched for this purpose. My favorite way to train at high intensity with this movement is called "death by clean and jerk". On a running timer, one clean and jerk is performed the first minute, two performed the second minute, three the third minute, and so on, until failure.

You can see Mikko Salo perform this ladder in a very impressive way here.

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Do maximum you can handle leg weight training. Massively heavy leg presses, single leg squats etc - basically a high intensity leg workout with the heaviest weights you can handle until fail (have a friend help)

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Wouldn't doing any exercise at your maximal capacity do this? I don't think this is a very sustainable exercise, because you can only do so much work at your maximum, whereas doing something very rapidly means you'll probably be able to repeat it after some rest. –  Ivo Flipse May 25 '12 at 7:28
    
This just sounds like a recipe for injury... :( –  posdef May 29 '12 at 5:46
    
@IvoFlipse if you spent any time in the gym you would know that leg presses get your heart pumping far harder, faster than other exercises. Perhaps you should try it at a gym? I have been training for over 10 years and believe me, opinion based on practical experience far out weight's pages of text and scientific evidence. –  TheLearner May 29 '12 at 10:02
    
Downvoted for outrageous condescension. –  Dave Liepmann Feb 20 '13 at 19:39
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