Published:
September 21, 2022
Last Updated:
September 26, 2022

The Benefits of Short Workouts: Making the Most of Your Busy Schedule

When it comes to exercise, finding time is often cited as the most significant barrier. With all other obligations taking precedence, carving out upwards of an hour during the day oftentimes just isn’t feasible. It’s recommended that adults get two and a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate activity every week. For most people working a nine-to-five job, this is simply impractical.

Even as many people make the shift to full-time remote work, with maintaining relationships, taking care of their living space, and getting enough sleep, there isn’t much time left for exercise. The good news is that short workouts have been shown to be just as beneficial as longer ones, without the time constraints.

What are the Benefits of a Short Workout?

Like all exercise, short workouts increase your heart rate and help to get your sweat on. This is particularly true of workouts like HIIT, or high intensity interval training. Most HIIT workouts last only around 15 to 20 minutes but have found to be more effective than steady-state aerobic exercises, like jogging.

Short exercise regimens may also be easier to stick to in the long term. Less time spent exercising allows for more flexibility in scheduling workouts. And just like longer workouts, they can help you lose weight, prevent diabetes, improve your mobility, and benefit your overall well-being.

12 Workouts to Try When You’re Short on Time

Short on time but looking to get in some exercise? These 12 workouts will elevate your heart rate in just a few minutes using only your body weight. Before starting a new exercise regimen, be sure to consult your doctor. Always modify exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

Combine three or more of these exercises for a customized HIIT workout you can do just about anywhere. 

Crunches

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Lie on your back with knees bent, engaging your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulders off the ground. Hold for a second, then return to start. Make sure you’re raising not just your neck but also your shoulders. Repeat for three sets of 20.

Muscles worked: Abdominals 

Push-Ups

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Lie facedown with your hands parallel to your chest. Using your arms, push off the floor until your arms are fully extended. Making sure your back is straight and your hips are tucked in, lower yourself back down. Repeat 15 times.

Muscles worked: Pectorals, deltoids, rhomboids, trapezius, biceps 

Planks

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Lie face down on the floor or a yoga mat. Rising into the push-up position, focus on pulling in your core and keeping it taut. Hold this pose for one minute, then relax. Repeat 10 times.

Muscles worked: Abdominals, obliques, pectorals, deltoids, triceps, biceps

Squats

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Stand with your back straight, feet slightly turned out. Lower yourself, bending your knees until they’re even with the front of your feet, then rise back up to standing. Repeat for two sets of 10.

Muscles worked: Abdominals, abductors, adductors, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles)

Wall Sits

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Engaging your core, slowly slide your back down a wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Adjust your feet so that your knees don’t bend past your ankles. Keeping your back flat against the wall and abdominal muscles tight, hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Muscles worked: Glutes, gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles), quadriceps, abdominals

Calf Raises

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Face an empty wall and place your palms against it for balance and support. Rise up onto your toes and back down. Repeat 20 times.

Muscles worked: Gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles)

Lunges

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Begin by standing with your feet parallel. Take a big step forward with your right leg, landing with your knee bent and over your toes. Allow your back knee to drop down toward the floor, swinging your left arm forward for balance if needed. Push off your right front foot to return to a standing position. Repeat for two sets of 10 on each side.

Muscles worked: Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles)

Chair Dips

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Sit in a sturdy chair with your hands holding the front edge of the seat. Slide your buttocks forward until theyre suspended in front of the seat and your weight is supported by your arms. Bend your elbows and drop your hips toward the floor. Straighten to starting position. Repeat for two sets of 10 dips.

Muscles worked: Pectorals, trapezius muscles

Glute Bridge

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Lie faceup on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your sides with your palms down. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze your glutes and keep your core tight to prevent overextension. Hold this position for 10 seconds before returning to starting position. Repeat 15 times.

Muscles worked: Gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles), hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings

Bicycle Crunches

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Lie on your back with your feet in the air, keeping your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head. Begin vigorously pumping your legs in the classic bicycle motion for one minute. Take a 15 second rest, then repeat. Repeat 15 times.

Muscles worked: Abdominals, obliques

Mountain Climbers

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In the push-up position, pull alternating knees in toward your chest as quickly as possible, keeping your core tight. Repeat 30 times for each leg.

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quadriceps, triceps, abdominals, hip flexors, gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles), trapezius muscles 

Side Hip Lifts

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Sit on the floor, resting on your right hip, knees bent. Lean on your forearm and, keeping your knees on the floor, lift your hips off the floor, squeezing the obliques. Lower and repeat, then switch sides. Repeat for 10 sets on each side.

Muscles worked: Abdominals, obliques, glutes, biceps, triceps

The Bottom Line

By committing yourself to engaging in regular (if brief) physical activity, you’re setting yourself up for overall improved physical health. The benefits of exercise last for the long term, playing a role in preventing chronic disease, improving longevity, and helping you feel happier and more fulfilled.

Author Biography
Katy Weniger
,
IIN Content Writer

Katy holds a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in creative writing and advertising from Rider University. After jobs in the field of finance, she wanted to transition to an industry that focused on helping others be their best selves, and discovered IIN.

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