30 Workouts You Can Do in 20 Minutes or Less
We all know we need to exercise. But we don't all have the time. A typical exercise plan — cardio, strength training and flexibility — can take an hour or longer each day. For people with busy lives, that's often not possible.
Luckily, research has shown that short bursts of exercise can be just as effective as longer workouts. The key is making the most of your time. Here are 30 workouts you can do in minutes a day to boost fitness and increase strength.
Commercial Break Workouts
When you've had a long day at the office, the last thing you want to do at night is exercise. The more appealing option, of course, is to grab a snack and turn on Netflix. We don't want to take away your TV time — but you can catch up on your shows and fit in fitness all at once.
Experts suggest doing mini commercial-break workouts. For instance, every time a commercial comes on, you can use 45 seconds to hold a plank pose. Other options include sit-ups, jumping jacks, squats and push-ups. Choose some exercises you enjoy, and do a different one at each break.
Body Sculpting in Just Minutes a Day
A full-body workout — upper body, lower body, abs — can take quite a bit of time. If you're looking to burn fat, though, it's the way to go. It's simple: work more muscles, burn more fat. But is it possible to get that fat-burning goodness in just a few minutes a day? Absolutely.
Fitness Magazine suggests doing a circuit of jack and tire run combos, squat pops, pistons, plank lunge rows and double-time wood chops. Though the moves sound complicated, they're actually quite simple — and you can easily complete them in your living room. Do 10 reps of each exercise, rotating through them over a total of 10 minutes.
An Easy Nighttime Strength Circuit
Sometimes the only time you have to work out is right before bed, as much as you might dislike it. On the upside, all of that exercise will have you sleeping like a baby (plus, you'll get a bangin' bod). Fitness Magazine suggests a simple 20-minute circuit, but feel free to make it shorter or longer to suit your needs.
The routine can consist of tri-plane lunges, squats with an overhead press, jogging in place, alternating lunges with a lateral raise, lateral ski jumps, push-ups, mountain climbers and plank pose. Do each exercise for a total of 10–15 reps nonstop — except for the plank, which you'll hold for one minute.
A 10-Minute Plyometric Workout for Power and Strength
Fitness experts love plyometrics for their ability to stimulate several different muscle groups at the same time. Though they're typically used to improve athletic performance, they can also improve fat loss, strength and endurance. And they can do all of that quickly.
Plyometrics are so efficient that you can do them for just a few minutes each day and see results. Shape Magazine recommends doing these plyometric moves as a circuit: plie jump squat, one-legged deadlift hop, double jump, lateral lunge, pop-up and plank straddle hop. Spend just 10 minutes three times a week running through this circuit to see results.
Social Media Fitness Breaks
The typical American spends about 135 minutes a day, or almost two and a half hours, viewing social media. That's bananas! Instead of just mindlessly scrolling, why not do something useful with that time? You don't have to give up your social media fix to go to the gym — just try this simple trick.
Plank for 30 seconds before you log onto Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or your network of choice. Do this throughout the day before each session. Not into planks? Try squats or jumping jacks instead. Not only will it get you moving, but it'll really make you rethink all of the time you spend online.
Boost Your Cardio in Just 10 Minutes
Let's face it: Cardio workouts can be pretty boring, and a lot of people just don't like them. Who has 60 minutes to spend running on a treadmill or slogging away on the elliptical? Fortunately, it's possible to boost your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular fitness without those super-long workouts.
The key is to ramp up the intensity and keep moving non-stop. Master trainer Jon Giswold suggests doing a circuit of single-leg squats, crunch ball tosses, single-arm diagonal clean-and-presses, explosive jumps and bicycle crunches. Do each move 12 times and rest for 30 seconds in between for a total of 10 minutes.
Blast Your Belly With Some Quick Dance Moves
Besides time spent, one of the biggest complaints about working out is that it's "boring." But what many people don't realize is that you don't have to do traditional exercises to get in some fitness. You can bust a move to your favorite song, no matter where you are, and get all the benefits of a hardcore workout sesh.
Dancing is fun. Plus, it comes with a lot of health benefits. For instance, belly dancing and hip-hop are great for your abs, while twerking can seriously boost your booty. And any kind of dancing provides serious cardio. Experts recommend dancing three to four days a week for 30 minutes.
Boost That Butt in Just 10 Minutes
Looking to tone up? If you're like most people, you'll want to concentrate on your legs and bum. But is it possible to do that without hitting the gym and spending an hour on the leg press? Yes. In fact, there are dozens of bodyweight moves you can do right in your own home.
If you want a toned butt and thighs, try a short 10-minute circuit three times a week. Rotate through the following exercises up to 10 times each: squats (mix it up and try out different variations), forward lunges, wall sits and high-knee jogging in place. Not only will they tone your lower half, but they'll improve your balance too.
A Heavy-hitter Routine in Less Than 15 Minutes a Day
For those that have access to a gym but don't have a ton of time, this short routine is ideal for building strength and enhancing performance. It focuses on heavy lifting but alternates between upper-body and lower-body movements — so half of your body gets to rest while the other half is working!
Alternate each of the following exercises, doing five reps each and taking 30 seconds to rest between each movement: barbell squat, barbell bench press, stiff-legged barbell deadlift, bent-over barbell row, dumbbell shoulder press and pull-up. You can easily complete two circuits in 15 minutes, but feel free to do more if you have the time.
10-Minute Beginner Bodyweight Workout
Just starting out on your fitness journey? It can be hard to drag yourself off the couch when you're not used to moving your body. And even when you have the motivation, facing an hour-long aerobics session or 90 minutes in the gym can be intimidating.
This short 10-minute workout from Self Magazine is perfect for easing yourself into the world of workouts. Do each of the following exercises for 30 seconds, and repeat the circuit four times: bodyweight squats, knee push-ups, V sit-ups and mountain climbers. Not challenging enough? Feel free to amp up the intensity with weights or by adding more circuits.
A Quick 10-Minute Upper-body Workout
A strong upper body is important — not just for opening stubborn jars. Working your upper half helps improve posture and reduces the risk of neck or back injury. And it's good for your heart. A lot of people think that "upper-body workout" means gym time, though — and they just don't have the time for that.
You can get in a solid upper-body workout, with minimal equipment, right from the comfort of your home. You'll just need a set of hand weights and a bench. Do 10 or 15 reps of each of the following exercises with no break in between, for a total of two sets: press-ups, tricep dips, bicep curls and dumbbell bench presses.
The Sitcom Butt Workout
We've already discussed Netflix and made it clear that you don't have to give up your TV habit. But you also don't have to do 10 squats or 15 push-ups at each commercial break either. Instead, why not turn your favorite sitcom or drama into a fun workout game?
How does it work? Think along the lines of traditional college drinking games — only instead of taking shots, you'll be doing exercises. For example, if you watch The Big Bang Theory, you could do 10 lunges every time Sheldon says, "Bazinga!" Make your own rules and use the exercises of your choice.
Do Bathroom Squats
This little fitness hack has been floating around out there for a long time, and for good reason. Everyone uses the bathroom throughout the day — it's something you can't avoid. So when you tie a fitness challenge to your time in the loo, you're bound to hit your daily goal (as long as you remember to do it).
The standard online challenge is to do 10 squats every time you go to the bathroom, but you can use any exercise you want, like lunges, jumping jacks or leg raises. Just remember — if you're in an office bathroom stall, space might be limited.
Get a Jacked Upper Body in Minutes a Day
This is another one for the gym lovers. Perhaps you have a gym at the office but limited time on your lunch break. Or you can swing by your regular spot on the way home from work, but you have to be home to meet the kids in 30 minutes. Whatever your deal is, this workout is quick and effective.
When you're short on time but just need to get arm day in, try this simple circuit with 30 seconds of rest between each set: barbell bench press (five reps), seated cable rows (eight reps), incline dumbbell press (12 reps), pull-ups (12 reps), dumbbell bicep curls (15 reps) and dips (20 reps).
Blast Fat in Just 10 Minutes a Day
If you want to burn up those weekend calories faster than you can say "Boston cream pie," this crazy-effective cardio routine will have you working up a sweat in no time flat. In fact, according to Keli Roberts, creator of 10-Minute Cardio KickBox, you'll burn around 150 calories in just 10 minutes.
Wanna feel the burn? Do these nine moves in order for one minute each: jump rope, squat-thrust push-up, jump rope, squat-thrust push-up with side plank, jump rope, squat-thrust push-up with leg lifts, jump rope, squat-thrust push-up with mountain climbers and jump rope. It’s a great cardio workout and some sculpting in mere minutes.
The Cardi B. Circuit
This one is simple: Just pick a song you love and create your own circuit around it. No, it doesn't have to be Cardi B. It could be Wu-Tang Clan or the Bee Gees or Michael Jackson — whatever floats your boat. And you can use any combination of exercises you want, too.
Here's how it works: Pick your favorite jam, write down a simple circuit (for example, 10 push-ups, 10 squats and 10 lunges) and repeat that circuit until the song is over. The longer the song is, the harder the workout is. There are no breaks between exercises, so make sure you choose carefully.
Do These Simple Moves While You Sit at Your Desk
Sometimes, you actually don't get a break during the day. At all. You're stuck at your desk for eight hours straight and there's nothing you can do about it. Well, not only is that bad for your mental health, but it can also cause physical pain as well (hello, sore neck!).
The solution? Take micro-breaks and do a couple of little exercises right there at your desk. A few common suggestions include arm circles, squats, seated leg raises, chair dips, leaning planks, shadow boxing or seated fast feet (like the boys on the high school football team used to do, only in your chair).
Dance to Your Favorite Song
There's a lot of dancing on this list. And there's a reason for that: Dance has the potential to burn a ton of calories in very little time, and it'll seriously tone you up in the process. On top of that, there are dozens of different dances, hundreds of different artists and countless ways to mix things up.
This suggestion is by far the easiest of them all. Just pick a song you love and dance your butt off. If you want to jazz things up a bit, you can choose a song that actually has moves and learn the choreography. You might burn up to 60 calories in just 10 minutes.
Burn a Ton of Calories on Your Morning Walk
Do you take a walk every day — and it’s not quite doing the trick? You might feel good when you're done, but you wish it gave you a bit more of a workout. Without adding any time onto your daily routine, you can take a totally pumped-up walk and melt away those calories.
Experts recommend working in some hills or stairs — walking an incline can drastically increase calorie expenditure. When you're ready, add in some hand weights. You can either hold them by your side for increased resistance or do easy moves like overhead presses or bicep curls as you walk. Walk your way up to a 15-minute mile and you'll be getting a serious workout!
A 20-Minute Boogie Fest
Much like the Cardi B. circuit, this one focuses on choosing songs and moves you love — only it lasts much longer. Rather than just one song, in this routine, you'll choose 20 minutes’ worth of songs you love (or a couple really long songs, like Daft Punk's aptly named Too Long).
Write down the moves you're going to do — like burpees, mountain climbers, planks and bicycle crunches — and focus on doing each set back-to-back with minimal rest. Shoot for one minute of each move with 30 seconds of rest between sets. If 20 minutes feels like too much, start shorter and work your way up.
Squeeze in This 10-Minute Anti-aging Workout
Almost everyone has the same "trouble" zones, like upper arms, abs and legs. As we age, these three areas more than anywhere else are likely to become, well, flabby. And, let's be honest: No one wants grandma arms. Not even grandmas.
This simple, fast workout can help you fight those age-related jiggles in just 10 minutes a day. You'll need a pair of light dumbbells and a workout mat. Do this entire circuit once, straight-through: triceps press (15 reps), wide-stance deadlift (12 reps), plie-biceps curl combo (five reps), squats with overhead press (15 reps) and single-leg row (12 reps).
Get in Mini-walks Throughout the Day
To really burn fat and slim down, many people may tell you that you need at least 45 minutes of cardio five days a week — but that's just not very workable. In fact, for most people, it's just downright impossible. Luckily, research has shown that several shorter workouts can be just as beneficial.
One great way to get in a bit of cardio is with a brisk walk each morning. Not only will it boost your heart rate, but it'll also leave you feeling energized for the day ahead. Simply start with a five-minute warm-up and then follow it up with five minutes of brisk walking or jogging. Squeeze these mini-sessions in throughout the day.
Start Your Morning on the Right Foot With This 10-Minute Workout
Many people prefer working out in the morning. For some, it's the only time of day when they can get a few minutes to themselves. For others, it's when they're feeling their most energetic. Whatever your reason, this is a quick 10-minute workout you can squeeze in on even the most hectic of weekdays.
Los Angeles-based trainer Kit Rich came up with this simple circuit that you can modify to include your favorite moves. Just do one minute of an upper-body exercise, one minute of a lower-body exercise and one minute of abs. Repeat this three times. Her recommendations are push-ups, plank holds and squats.
10-Minute Cardio Fat Blaster
If you want a quick workout that’ll help you lose weight, boost your metabolism, improve heart and lung health, and enhance endurance, then this is the workout for you. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts like this have been proven to burn more calories in the following 24 hours than traditional cardio routines.
If you're ready to pump up your workout — and get more done in less time — hop on the cardio machine of your choice at the gym and follow this circuit. Do two minutes at a steady pace and one minute at a difficult-to-maintain pace. Repeat this two or three more times and follow it with one minute of easy recovery.
Increase Your Explosiveness With This Short Workout
If you want to increase your explosiveness (your power output), this workout can give you the results you want in just a few minutes a day. It's designed to increase the speed and quickness with which you complete any movement, so it's great no matter what sport you do. And, you can do this whole workout at home.
Because these moves are so demanding, you'll want to rest for a full 60 seconds between each exercise. Do the following circuit for a total of three rotations: jump squat (10 reps), plyo push-up (10 reps), reverse lunge (12 reps), lateral box jump (five reps), box jump (12 reps), burpee tuck jumps (12 reps) and pistol squat (four reps).
Target Your Butt, Abs & Arms in Just 5 Minutes
If you have five minutes during your day, no matter where you are, you can get in this quick full-body workout. And if you can't find five free minutes somewhere during your day, then perhaps it's time to reassess your schedule!
This fast routine was developed by trainer David Kirsch and gets your entire body involved. You'll need a set of light weights, but if you don't have them you can just use your body weight. Do the entire circuit straight through, taking one minute per exercise: sumo lunges, squats, jumping jacks with shoulder presses, planks, left side planks and right side planks.
A Simple 10-Minute Core Workout
Want to strengthen your core and improve your posture and balance? Have a sore back and know that exercise would help? Unfortunately, many people are in this same boat, but they don't have time to go to the gym or see a trainer. This simple 10-minute core workout could ease what ails you.
Simply go through the following rotation of exercises. Do 10 reps each, twice through: plank (one minute), supermans, leg raises, bicycle crunches and vertical leg crunches. They may seem like easy exercises, but at the end of 10 minutes, you'll be feeling the burn!
Get in a Quick Workout on Your Lunch Break
Getting in a midday workout may seem like the most unappealing thing ever. After all, who wants to hit the gym on lunch and come back to the office all sweaty? But getting your heart rate up in the middle of the day can help you get over that dreaded 2 p.m. slump.
If you have 15 minutes to spare at lunchtime, this routine will not only boost energy but also burn some calories to boot. Climb a few flights of stairs or do jumping jacks for two minutes, walk at a brisk pace for eight minutes, climb stairs or do jumping jacks for two more minutes and take a cool-down walk for two minutes.
Don't Forget to Stretch
It seems like people are always worried about burning calories and losing weight, but keeping your body limber and flexible is just as important for your overall health. If starting a workout routine feels overwhelming for you right now, you can still do your body some good by completing a few easy stretching exercises.
Nutrition and lifestyle coach Paloma Pilar says, "Don’t underestimate stretching and mobility. Stretching improves circulation by increasing blood flow to your muscles, which leaves you feeling refreshed and invigorated." Not sure where to start? Try these standing hamstring, chest and upper-back stretches suggested by VeryWell Fit.
Don't Want to Work Out? Don't Worry About It
Sometimes you just need a day off. If you truly don't want to do anything but sit on your couch, binge watch your favorite show and eat a pint of ice cream, don't worry about it. We've all been there, and there's no shame in that game.
Physical health is important, but mental health is too. Take your day off, destress and get back into your fitness routine the next day. In the meantime, why not try some relaxing stress-busters like a nice hot bath or some lavender essential oils?