Believe it or not, evidence shows that you can reap great benefits from a workout that lasts just 10 minutes. By incorporating exercises such as backward lunges and jump squats, a 10-minute workout can burn fat and improve your health.
When it comes to getting in a solid workout—one that challenges you physically and mentally and boosts your endurance—shorter can actually be better.
Billy Beck, two-time winner of the MET-Rx World’s Best Personal Trainer contest, says: “A great workout isn’t about annihilating yourself; it’s about challenging yourself .”
A short daily workout has been proven to expand your lifespan by three years, and it comes with a host of other health benefits.
It doesn’t take an hour (or four) in the gym to stay fit and healthy. You can get everything you need from a workout in just 10 minutes.
As long as you choose moves that get your heart rate up, as well as ones that target muscle groups and make them stronger and leaner, you’ll get an effective blast in a short period of time.
A great way to think of an effective workout is to remember A-B-B:
- Aerobic: If you’re pushing yourself, you’re challenging your heart rate.
- Breath: If you’re out of breath, you’re challenging your lungs.
- Burn: If you feel the burn, you’re challenging your muscles.
Here is a great 10-minute workout, recommended by Caleb Backe, CPT and health expert at Maple Holistics.
10-minute maximum efficiency workout
Each movement should be completed for 1 minute. The workout should be repeated two times (if you want an extra push repeat three times)
What you’ll need:
- Flexible clothing
- Mat (optional)
- 15- to 30-pound weights (optional)
- Resistance band (optional)
Burpees – 1 minute (2 repetitions)
“A burpee is essentially a fat-burning and strengthening, equipment-free full-body workout,” Backe says. This exercise also helps tackle your cardio and boost your energy by increasing your heart rate.
How to do them:
For the burpee, start in a standing position before coming down into a push-up position. To do this exercise, you will fall to the ground, kicking your legs out behind you to land on your toes. While doing so, you are also keeping your hands on each side of your chest (palms-down) to catch yourself as you land (you don’t want to smash your face into the ground!). Your body will brush against the ground, and you will push off the ground, completing a push-up. At the top of your push-up, you will jump back up into the air, with hands overhead, before going back down again for a second burpee.
“The higher the intensity with which you perform this exercise, the more you benefit,” he says. So, go fast and give it your all.
Plank – 1 minute (2 reps)
“Holding this pose for 1 minute daily can have lasting effects that go way beyond your physical goals,” says Backe.
Planks are a foundational exercise for overall health and longevity, as they build core strength and improve mobility, muscle strength and endurance. They’re also very efficient because they simultaneously engage your core, legs and arms.
How to do them:
On the floor or a mat, get into a push-up position. Tuck your elbows about 90 degrees in and rest your forearms on the floor. Your elbows should be positioned underneath your shoulders and your fists slightly inward under your chin. With your toes tucked, neutralize your neck and ensure that your head is in line with your spine. Make sure your legs are extended but your knees aren’t locked. The goal is to keep your body in a straight line without bending too much toward the ground or overarching your back toward the ceiling. If you’re holding the correct posture, you should feel the burn for this 1-minute practice.
The further back you extend your feet the harder the plank will be, so adjust according to how much you want to challenge yourself. If you feel yourself shaking slightly, it’s working.
Backward lunges – 1 minute (2 reps)
(Optional: 15- to 30-pound weights)
“This move is a variation of the regular lunge and allows you to use different muscles than you normally would. It activates a range of leg muscles, as well as your abs, and your arms if you incorporate weights,” Backe says. Try two or one 15- to 30-pound weights depending on your fitness level, and adjust lower or higher if needed, too.
Backward lunges are excellent for providing energy, since you are focusing on the lower body. Lower-body exercises tend to raise your heart rate more than upper-body exercises. The lower body is home to a large muscle group that has the potential to generate heat and create energy.
Make it dynamic by doing jumping lunges without weights. This will boost energy further, since there will now be a cardio aspect to get your heart rate up.
How to do them:
Stand straight up with your legs roughly shoulder-width apart, and bring your right foot behind you so that your knee is bent at a right angle. As you do each lunge, your bent knee should be just above your ankle and should avoid touching the ground. Keep your bent knee about 2-3 inches above the floor to hold for a second and push back up. Alternate legs and repeat. As you do this exercise, make sure the knee that’s bent isn’t turning inward or outward, since this could result in injury. It may also help maintain your balance to keep your hands on your hips as you do each lunge
Jump squats – 1 minute (2 reps)
(Optional: resistance bands)
This cardio exercise is great for energy. Also, it blasts calories; this can provide weight-management benefits that ultimately lower the risk of getting certain chronic diseases.
“To make this move more effective, incorporate a resistance band into your workout,” Backe says. There are different levels of intensity, so go with the lighter or the tighter depending on strength. Increasing resistance will cause your glutes and inner thighs to work harder and get leaner.
How to do them:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and place the resistance bands above your knees. Squat and jump as high as you can. Land softly and go back into squat. As with burpees, “this adds some cardio to your workout and creates a full-body workout,” Backe says.
As you squat, keep your back upright and straight (don’t hunch, which can lead to injury). Keep your knees above your feet instead of past the feet to protect the knees and joints. And if you do it without the resistance band, do the same thing! Same positioning, jump in the air, land back down softly, and go again.
Push-up shoulder taps – 1 minute (2 reps)
“This creates an exercise that works both your arms and your core to the extreme,” says Backe. So, it’s twice as efficient.
How to do them:
From plank position, press down into a push-up. As you come up, tap your right shoulder with your left hand, and hold the plank for one second. Press back down, and on your way up, tap the alternate shoulder with your right hand. Repeat for 1 minute.
For this exercise, make sure to keep your arms straight and not bent when in plank. Your feet should be outward slightly and straight in plank; not too far apart, but also not closed tight together.
What are the benefits of this 10-minute workout?
“A major benefit of this workout is the fact that it works all aspects of your body without being monotonous. I’m an advocate of holistic workouts; focusing on just one muscle at a time won’t work,” Backe says.
Ultimately, this workout tackles major muscle groups, adds variety and helps you make the most of your time.
“If you want to see progress both in terms of weight loss and muscle mass, incorporating as many muscle groups as you can into a workout is important – and that’s what you get with this ten-minute workout,” he says.
Working it into your schedule
“For many people, exercising with a busy schedule is best achieved by waking up early. Getting your workout ‘out of the way’ so to speak, means that you don’t have to worry about fitting it in throughout your day, and you get the added benefit of starting off your day with endorphins,” Backe says.
If you do want to do this at the gym, and not your office or home, plan wisely based on how busy the gym might be to secure your spot.
When is it busiest?
“It really varies from gym to gym, but generally speaking, people are busy at work during the middle of the day. If you get a decent lunch break, that could be the ideal time to get in a quick 10-minute workout,” he says.
If you find this isn’t the case at your own gym, try visiting at different times during the day to get a better gauge of when things are less busy and machines are free! Or just be prepared for a crowd, and find a way to claim an area for yourself.
What about the 7-minute workout?
There are some theories that propose a workout that is even shorter than 10 minutes—think the 7-minute workout. But Backe says this approach is not as effective.
“The 7-minute workout has its benefits, especially if you’re not going to get any other exercise into your day. That being said, unless you’re making it 14 minutes and repeating the whole workout twice, you’re unlikely to see real improvements,” says Backe.
“It’s a great starting point for generally improving your health, but it’s not sustainable for overall fitness,” he says. “You need those extra minutes to do more reps. Plus, it allows you to have more variety in movements to hit all the major areas.”
“The Department of Health and Human Services’ fitness guidelines suggest that 10 minutes of daily movement is enough for overall health. When you maximize these 10 minutes to the best of your ability, it’s more than enough time to create an effective workout,” Backe says.
This is especially true if you’re consistent with this 10-minute workout, since it is holistically balanced. “If you’re only getting 10 minutes of workout time a day, you need to make sure that you give your all to those 10 minutes,” says Backe.
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