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Get the Most out of your 10-Minute Workouts

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Updated June 27, 2014

If you do opt for shorter workouts, you might wonder if you can really get an effective workout if you only have 10 minutes. It all depends on what you do and how hard you work. When you're doing short workouts, you want to focus on intensity and work harder than you usually do. That means on a Perceived Exertion Scale of 1-10, try to keep your intensity around 7-9 throughout the workout. It may be tough, but you're only doing it for 10 minutes.

Cardio Workouts

When you're planning your workouts, you'll want at least two of your of 10-minute sessions to include cardio exercise. Any activity will work as long as you work hard at it. But, there are some activities that are harder than others and allow you to get your heart rate up a bit faster, which is what you want with short workouts. Some ideas include:

  • Running
  • Walking as fast as you can
  • Run up the stairs
  • High intensity moves like jumping jacks, squat hops, step jumps, kickboxing, jumping rope, vigorous dancing
  • Cycling with both speed and high resistance
  • Any cardio machine at the gym - work at a high level of intensity (speed, resistance and/or incline) for 10 minutes

You can also find more ideas at 10-Minute Timesaver Cardio Workouts.

Strength Training Workouts

Strength training is another activity you want to include in your shorter workouts as well. So, if you have three 10-minute sessions planned, you could use two for cardio and one for strength or you could mix and match depending on what you're doing the rest of the week.

To get the most out of your strength training, you may want to follow a circuit routine in which you pick 10 exercises and do each one for about a minute (or to fatigue, whichever comes first). You also want to choose exercises that involve more than one muscle group at a time to keep the intensity up. An example of a strength circuit might be:

  • Squats
  • Walking lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Squats with leg lifts
  • Pushups
  • Bent over rows
  • Shoulder press
  • Tricep dips
  • Barbell bicep curls
  • Crunches on the ball

You can find more ideas for strength moves at 10 Minute Strength Training.

Sample Schedule

While you can set up your schedule any way you like, it sometimes helps to have an idea of where to start. Below is just one example of how you could incorporate 10-minute exercise sessions into your day:

Day 1: Three 10-minute cardio workouts
Day 2: Two-three 10-minute strength workouts
Day 3: Two-Four 10-minute cardio workouts
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Two 10-minute cardio workouts, one 10-minute strength
Day 6: Two 10-minute strength workouts, one 10-minute cardio

Timesaver Workouts

Sources:

Atlena, T. S., J. L. Michaelson, S. D. Ball, and T. R. Thomas. Single Sessions of Intermittent and Continuous Exercise and Postprandial Lipemia. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 36, No. 8, pp. 1364-1371, 2004.

Jakicic JM, Wing RR, Butler BA, Robertson RJ. "Prescribing exercise in multiple short bouts versus one continuous bout: effects on adherence, cardiorespiratory fitness, and weight loss in overweight women." Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1995 Dec;19(12):893-901.

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