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6 Mini Strength Workouts Under 10 MinutesMorsa Images – Getty Images

On your busiest days, you probably don’t have a spare hour to strength train. But what about those five minutes between meetings? Or the 10 minutes before you leave to pick up your kids? You may look at these breaks and think, “Why bother? What can you really get done in five minutes?” The answer: quite a bit.

Jen Kates, C.P.T., founder of Shift Human Performance, often recommends “movement snacks,” or short workouts that require minimal space and equipment, to clients who struggle to find time to exercise between family obligations and work commitments. “It’s a much more reasonable way to include movement into your day,” she says.

And yes, just five or 10 minutes of exercise is still worth it. “That intentional bit of movement is going to give you a burst of endorphins, and it’s going to get you out of sitting or standing, or whatever you’re doing in your day-to-day job or life,” Kates adds.

If you have time for multiple movement snacks, that’s even better. Chicago-based personal trainer Wesley Showalter, C.S.C.S., explains that stacking mini workouts throughout the day (e.g., doing a five-minute workout in the morning, 10 minutes during lunch, 10 minutes before an afternoon call, and five minutes in the evening) is just as effective as completing one uninterrupted workout of the same combined duration.

In one meta-review published in Sports Medicine, researchers looked at 19 studies that compared the effects of long, continuous workouts to the effects of multiple bouts of shorter increments of exercise. The authors considered factors including overall fitness, blood pressure, and glucose levels and concluded that there was “no difference between continuous and accumulated patterns of exercise.” They also found that some evidence suggests accumulated mini workouts can lead to changes in body mass and LDL cholesterol levels.

“Overall, [mini workouts] accumulate into the same total volume and caloric expenditure,” Showalter says. “So, me doing four 15-minute workouts is essentially going to elicit the same response—as long as it’s within the same 24-hour period—as if I did it all unbroken in an hour.”

With the help of Kates and Showalter, we put together six mini workouts, some of which offer full-body strengthening and others that target the upper body, lower body, and core. Keep them on file for when you’re pressed for time or just want to pepper a little more movement into your day.


5-Minute Upper-Body Workout

Why it works: Just one round of this five-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) will light up your shoulders, triceps, and core. The superhuman lift will activate your posterior chain, and the crunch/biceps curl combo simultaneously engages the abdominals and upper arms.

How to do it: Perform the following exercises in order for the number of reps indicated, completing as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes.

Plank Walk-Out

Start standing. Fold forward and plant hands on ground. Walk hands out to plank position, creating straight line from head to heels. Walk hands back to feet and stand up. Repeat for 4 reps.

Close-Grip Eccentric Push-Up

Start in plank position, with hands closer than shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower body to floor on the count of 5, bending elbows and maintaining straight line from head to heels. Pause, then press back up. Repeat for 8 reps.

Knee Tuck With Biceps Curl

Start seated, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Lift feet off floor, extend legs, and lean back slightly. Extend arms down by sides. This is the starting position. Sit up, pulling knees into chest as you curl weights to shoulders. Return to starting position. Repeat for 8 reps.

Superhuman

Lie facedown, arms and legs extended. Lift upper body and legs off floor, activating entire back of body. Pause, then lower back down. Repeat for 8 reps.


5-Minute Plyo Lower-Body Workout

Why it works: Incorporating plyometric exercises into your training can help you develop power and speed. This lower-body circuit, which doubles as a HIIT workout, targets the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

How to do it: Set the clock for 5 minutes. For the first 30 seconds of each minute, perform the exercise listed, then rest for 30 seconds before moving onto the next exercise.

Minute 1: High Knees

Stand with feet together. Drive one knee up to chest. Immediately step it down and drive opposite knee to chest. Continue alternating, like you’re running in place.

Minute 2: Squat Jump

Start with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes turned slightly out. Lower hips down and back into a squat. Drive through feet to stand up, exploding up to jump off the floor. Land softly and immediately lower into the next squat. Repeat.

Minute 3: Sprinter Start

Start in a deep lunge with left foot forward and right leg extended behind you. Place tips of right fingers on the ground inside of left foot and extend left arm behind you. Forcefully drive left foot into the ground as you simultaneously draw right knee up and forward to chest, coming into an upright position, and hopping straight up, driving off left foot, and swing left arm forward. Softly land on left leg, right leg reaching back to return to lunge position, then immediately go into next rep. Repeat. Switch sides halfway through.

Minute 4: Skater

Stand with feet hip-width apart, soft bend in knees, arms at sides. Jump laterally to the left, driving off right foot and landing on left foot in a quarter squat position. Right foot should follow behind left leg, and right toes should hover above ground or make light contact with ground to aid balance. Immediately repeat, pushing off left foot and landing on right foot. Continue alternating.

Minute 5: Alternating Jumping Lunge

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Step back with left foot, lowering into a lunge with both knees bending 90 degrees. Explode up, driving both feet into floor and switching feet in air to land with right foot back. Immediately lower into lunge on opposite side. Continue alternating.


5-Minute Core Workout

Why it works: This isn’t just a core workout. Thanks to multiple plank variations, you’ll also work your entire upper body, especially your shoulders and triceps.

How to do it: Perform each exercise in order for 30 seconds. Complete 2 rounds.

High-Low Plank

Start in a high plank position, wrists directly under shoulders and forming a straight line from head to heels. Lower right forearm to ground. Then left. Pause, then return to high plank. Continue alternating which side you start with for each plank position.

Straight-Leg Sit-Up

Lie faceup with legs extended, hands behind head or across chest. Sit up, shoulders over hips. Slowly lower torso back down to floor. Repeat.

Side Plank Hold (Right)

Start on side with right forearm on the ground, forming a straight line from head to feet, ankles, knees, and hips stacked. Make sure right elbow is directly under shoulder. Lift hips as high as you can and hold.

Side Plank Hold (Left)

Start on side with left forearm on the ground, forming a straight line from head to feet, ankles, knees, and hips stacked. Make sure left elbow is directly under shoulder. Lift hips as high as you can and hold.

Plank Shoulder Tap

Start in a high plank position, shoulders directly over wrists and forming a straight line from head to heels. Tap left shoulder with right hand. Return to plank. Tap right shoulder with left hand. Return to plank. Continue alternating.


10-Minute Upper-Body and Core Workout

Why it works: This workout has you constantly switching between a prone (facedown) and supine (faceup) position, which keeps your arms and shoulders from fatiguing too quickly. That means you can eke out more high-quality reps during this upper-body/core mini workout.

How to do it: Perform the following exercises in order for the number of reps indicated, completing as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.

Plank Shoulder Tap

Start in a high plank position, shoulders directly over wrists and forming a straight line from head to heels. Tap left shoulder with right hand. Return to plank. Tap right shoulder with left hand. Return to plank. Continue alternating for 20 reps total.

Leg Raise

Lie faceup, legs lifted toward ceiling with hips bent 90 degrees. Lower legs to floor, as low as possible will keeping low back against mat. Lift legs back up. Repeat for 10 reps.

Pike Push-Up

Start in a downward dog position, with hips up and forefeet planted. Bend elbows to lower head toward floor for a push-up. Press back up. Repeat for 10 reps.

Hollow Body Rock

Lie faceup, arms extended by ears and legs extended straight out. Lift legs, shoulders, arms, and head off floor. Rock back and floor on tailbone for 10 reps.

Mountain Climber

Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists and forming a straight line from head to heels. Drive right knee toward chest. Step back to plank. Drive left knee toward chest. Step back to plank. Continue alternating for 20 reps total.

Bicycle Crunch

Lie faceup, hands behind head. Drive right knee toward chest and rotate to right, reaching shoulder toward knee. Straighten right knee as you drive left knee toward chest and rotate to the left. Continue alternating for 20 reps total.


10-Minute Lower-Body Workout

Why it works: This simple but challenging lower-body circuit includes multi-joint movements that are both foundational (they’re part of every solid strength-training program) and functional (they carry over into everyday life). You’ll feel this one in the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

How to do it: Set the clock for 10 minutes. For the first 45 seconds of each minute, perform the exercise listed, then rest for 15 seconds before switching movements. Complete 2 rounds.

Minutes 1 & 6: Air Squat

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out. Lower hips down and back to perform a squat. Drive through feet to stand back up. Repeat.

Minutes 2 & 7: Alternating Reverse Lunge

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Step back with right foot and lower into a lunge, both knees bending 90 degrees. Drive through feet and step right foot forward. Repeat on left side. Continue alternating.

Minutes 3 & 8: Alternating Lateral Lunge

Stand with feet together. Step out to left with left foot, bending knee and sending hips down and back, keeping weight in heel. (Make sure knee tracks over toes.) Keep right leg straight. Drive through left foot and step feet back together. Repeat on right side. Continue alternating.

Minutes 4 & 9: Single-Leg Deadlift (Right)

Stand with feet together. Shift weight to right foot, lifting left foot off floor. Hinge at hips by sending glutes straight back, lowering torso to floor while keeping back flat and core engaged. Left leg lifts behind you. Drive through right foot to stand up, extending hips. Repeat.

Minutes 5 & 10: Single-Leg Deadlift (Left)

Stand with feet together. Shift weight to left foot, lifting right foot off floor. Hinge at hips by sending glutes straight back, lowering torso to floor while keeping back flat and core engaged. Right leg lifts behind you. Drive through right foot to stand up, extending hips. Repeat.


10-Minute Full-Body Workout

Why it works: Yes, you can work every major muscle group in just five moves. The key is to get back to basics. This circuit kicks off with a bear crawl and cycles through variations of classic moves, like the squat, push-up, and plank.

How to do it: Perform each exercise in order for 30 seconds. Complete 4 rounds.

Bear Crawl

Start on all fours, shoulders over wrists and knees under hips. Lift knees just a few inches off floor, keeping back flat and core engaged. Step forward with right hand and left foot, keeping back flat and core engaged. Then step forward with left hand and right foot. Continue alternating for several steps. Then reverse to crawl backward. Continue moving forward and backward.

Sumo Squat

Stand with feet wider than shoulder-with apart, toes turned outward. Send hips down and back to lower into a squat, knees tracking over toes. Drive through feet to stand back up. Repeat.

Hand-Release Push-Up

Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists, forming a straight line from head to heels. Lower body all the way to the floor, bending elbows and maintaining that straight line. Rest body on floor and lift hands off floor. Place hands back down and then press back up to plank, maintaining that straight line. Repeat.

Alternating Lunge

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Step back with right foot and lower into a lunge, both knees bending 90 degrees. Drive through feet and step right foot forward. Repeat on left side. Continue alternating.

Reverse Plank Hold

Sit with leg straight, hands behind you, fingertips facing you. Lift hips up, keeping chin tucked, and engage glutes to form a reverse plank position. Hold.

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