Try These Quick Workouts When Time Ain’t on Your Side

Sports Performance | Strength & Conditioning

Kick your excuses to the curb and use these short couplets to train when you’re pressed for time. Putting in some effort to move even when life has you drained is always worth it. Use squats, pulls, carries, and calisthenics to get the most out of a micro-workout – maintain those gains so your longer sessions won’t suffer!

Jimmy Pritchard

Lily Frei

Lily is TrainHeroic’s Marketing Content Creator and a CF-L1 with an English background. She was a successful freelance marketer for the functional fitness industry until being scooped up by TrainHeroic. An uncommon combo of bookish, artsy word-nerd and lifelong athlete, Lily is passionately devoted to weightlifting, CrossFit, yoga, dance, and aerial acrobatics. Find her showcasing her artist-athlete hobbies on IG @lilylectric.

5 quick Workouts you can do when you only have 10 minutes

Small wins keep your body moving and your mindset fresh.

We’ve all been there lately – moving from one Zoom meeting to the next, helping the kids do the same for remote school, or zeroing in on your own studies for hours at a time. Your schedule is packed and when you make it to the end of the day feeling wiped, your workouts are often the first to go. Maybe you channel Seinfeld by busting out the excuse Rolodex, flipping to “I’m too tired,” or “there’s not enough time to work out now.” Slowly your regular training routine becomes occasional at best as your goals disappear in the rearview mirror.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Rather than giving in to the do-nothing dark fairies floating around your head, forget about progress and just move. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that as few as four sets of 30-second sprint intervals “was sufficient to elicit similar responses as 30 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.” Another study for the Journal of Sports Medicine showed that two 15-minute weight training sessions per week was enough to produce some strength gains. 

Micro workouts might seem non-committal and pointless, but over the long haul these little investments add up. You’ll maintain a higher level of strength and fitness just by putting in that small effort. Once your calendar clears up and you can get back to some longer sessions, you’ll be ready to train like a monster again. 

Plus, switching your mindset from excuse-making to opportunity-finding will keep you in the groove of training consistently even when you don’t feel like it. Try some of these quick, two-exercise sessions to keep you going on those busy days.

Kettlebell Swing + Turkish Get-Up

A classic combo: a fast-hinge compound movement with a slower multi-position stability movement to help you maintain power and control. If you vary the weight, reps and sets, you’ll be able to get a massive stimulus in a short amount of time. With just these two exercises, you have most of your strength bases covered. 

Try starting with 5×10 (sets x reps) single arm swings, followed by five TGU on each side. You can mix things up by super-setting your swings and TGU or doing two-arm swings instead. As the TGU is a technical movement, make sure you spend time getting your technique down.

Goblet Squat + Single Arm Push Press

You can use any squat variation here, but if you don’t have access to a rack, KB or DB goblet squats are your best option. These variations need less space than a barbell, so you can easily hammer them out in your home office. The goblet squat also allows you to get more depth and access that tricky hip mobility. 

Once you’ve got your goblet reps in, it’s easy to stay standing and work your shoulders by doing unilateral push presses. If your weight is light and you have a little more time, keep the presses strict to get a good burn. 

Start with 3×12 or 4×8 for the goblet squats, then 5×5 on each side for the push press.

goblet squats

Deadlift + Farmer’s Carry

Another hinge exercise, but unlike the ballistic nature of the kettlebell swing, deadlifts are best for a slower grind, fewer reps, and a heavier load. The deadlift recruits the entire posterior chain and most major muscle groups making it the perfect bang for your fitness buck in short sessions. 

Add in some functional strength with farmer’s carries to work your core and you’ve got a powerful session with a low time-commitment. Farmer’s carries improve your grip, wreck your stabilizers, and fry your adductors if you keep going in a straight line. 

For a lighter day, deadlift 3×10 – for heavier days go for 5×5. For the farmer’s carry, walk to the end of your driveway and back four times with 40-60% of your bodyweight (total, not in each hand). You can change things up by switching to a one-handed suitcase, front rack, or waiter carry.

Overhead Walking Lunge + Medicine Ball Throw

Strong glutes are the crux of modern athleticism, so we have to include a lunge pattern. There are tons of variations, but holding a plate overhead maximizes your full-body effort. It raises your center of gravity, challenges your balance, and adds a gnarly shoulder stamina element. 

Pack a one-two punch in no time by transitioning from resisting side-to-side motion to creating it with a medicine ball throw against a wall. Hello, obliques. 

Lunge half the length of your farmer carry route, keeping your ribs down and upper trunk stable. Start with a 25lb plate for 3-4 sets, following each with 10-15 medicine ball throws. The emphasis with the latter should be on speed and power, so keep the intensity up and the workout short.

overhead lunge

Box Jumps + Pullups or Pushups

Calisthenics movements like pullups and pushups are essential basics that pair well with an explosive plyometric exercise like box jumps. You can substitute any kind of jump here instead, but standard box jumps are perfect when you’re pressed for time. They allow you to focus on generating power off of both feet and managing deceleration on your landing. 

Your primary aim with box jumps is generating maximum power, so go for 5×5. Dr. Andy Galpin, co-author of Unplugged, says it’s better to do more sets of fewer reps than the reverse. Aim for high quality movement when training explosively or risk the dreaded, shameful, painful box jump miss. 

You can go higher with the pushup reps – 4×12 or 5×10 – while 3×8 or 4×6 on the pullup bar should see you right.

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