On days when you’re really busy, it’s easy to give up on working out if you don’t have a good chunk of time to dedicate to exercise. However, a quick workout can still make a difference, and there are a number of micro workouts that are very effective. Some people believe you need to workout for a long period, but, it’s not always about how long you are exercising. Instead, it’s the type of moves you choose to do. In fact, short intense bursts can end up being even better for you than steady-state exercise for a longer period of time.
Research has shown that even just an 11-minute workout that contains one minute of high-intensity, all-out effort is just as effective as a 45-minute-long workout at a moderate pace, according to a study in the journal PLOS One–so you have no excuse next time you’ve only got 30 minutes between work and happy hour. Below are a couple micro workouts that are actually super effective.
Micro Workouts That Work
For this exercise, you’ll need one flight of stairs with at least 10 steps. Walk up and down them, and each time thereafter, make an adjustment. The second and third time, increasingly pick up the pace. By the fourth, skip a step, trying to not hold onto the handrail, and keep hands on your hips while coming back down. The fifth time, lunge to the top. Repeat the cycle over again. Doing the stairs is not only a good cardiovascular exercise, but it also works various muscles, including your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors.
This quick, 4-minute workout involves 40-seconds of all-out movement followed by 20 second restes. Here’s how it goes:
- Squats for 40 seconds
- Rest for 20 seconds
- Pushups for 40 seconds
- Rest for 20 seconds
- Mountain climbers for 40 seconds
- Rest for 20 seconds
- Put it all together: Squat, push up position, push up, left leg, right leg
Jump Rope Combo
If you are trying to use minimal gym equipment while traveling, taking the kids to the park or at home, this workout is perfect for you. Here’s what you do:
Repeat this workout for 4 sets.
This Tabata workout involves alternating compass squats and sprawlees for 20 seconds each followed by 10 seconds of rest in between. Remember this is only 20 seconds, so bring your intensity and give it all you’ve got. Here’s what you do:
Repeat 4 times for a full workout.
If you by chance can find time to go to the gym, you can try this quick barbell workout. If you are a daily gym goer but need a quick workout to do, barbell complexes are the way to go. Here’s what it entails:
- Barbell Front Squat
- Barbell High Pull
- Barbell Bent Over Row
- Barbell Romanian Deadlift
- Rest 60-90 seconds
Repeat for 4 sets of each workout for the ultimate workout.
Squats with Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are a very underrated, full-body workout and one of the best weight bearing exercises on the planet. This simple move offers cardio and agility and targets every muscle group. For this set, start by doing 30 jumping jacks and alternating to do 30 deep squat jacks back to back. After jumping with your feet wide, return to a deep squat to target your calf, thigh, gluteal, and abdominal muscles. With this exercise you can determine how many sets you would like to do. I would suggest making a goal every week and bumping it up to increase endurance.
If your like me and hate straight running, you’ll want to try this running workout that incorporates different intensities of running along with some other workouts in between. Here’s what you need to do:
- Minute 1: Light jog for 60 seconds
- Minute 2: Medium intensity run 15 seconds, light jog 15 seconds, medium intensity run 15 seconds, and light jog 15 seconds.
- Minute 3: Toe taps on the curb for 30 seconds, squat for 30 seconds
- Minute 4: 15 second light job, 15 seconds sprint, 10 second light job, 20 second sprint
Minute 5: 20 seconds left side shuffle, staying low bringing one foot to the other, 20 seconds run around and jog light backwards, staying on your toes, 20 seconds right side shuffle staying low, bring one foot to the other.
Make the Jungle Gym Your Bootcamp
Who says you’re too old to play outside? When I take my kids to the playground, I try to play right along with them. I’ll do tricep dips off a bench, incline pushups, step ups, and try to do a pull up on the monkey bars. By doing those little bursts of activity they will add up quickly.