On days when you're really busy, it's easy to give up on working out if you don't have a good chunk of time to dedicate to exercise. However, a quick workout can still make a difference, and there are a number of micro workouts that are very effective. It's not always about how long you are exercising. Instead, it's the type of moves you choose to do. In fact, short intense bursts can end up being even better for you than steady-state exercise for a longer period of time.
"Micro workouts can be super effective for people who don't have time to make it to the gym," says trainer Michael Massetti over email. "They are a great way to keep your full body engaged while keeping your heart rate elevated. The idea behind micro workouts is based on HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT interval training is all about short bursts of high intensity activity followed up an active rest period. All of these workouts are designed if you have limited equipment availability."
Research shows that even just an 11-minute workout that contains one minute of high-intensity, all-out effort is just as effective as a 45-minute-long workout at a moderate pace , according to a study in the journal PLOS One — so you have no excuse next time you've only got 30 minutes between work and happy hour. Here are seven micro workouts that are actually super effective.
For this exercise, you'll need one flight of stairs with at least 10 steps, says Massetti. Walk up and down them, and each time thereafter, make an adjustment. The second and third time, increasingly pick up the pace. By the fourth, skip a step, trying to not hold onto the hand rail, and keep hands on your hips and coming back down. The fifth time, lunge to the top. Repeat the cycle over again. Doing the stairs is not only a good cardiovascular exercise, but it also works various muscles, including your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and core, according to Livestrong.
This quick, 4-minute workout involves 40-seconds of all-out movement followed by 20 second rests. Here's how it goes:
- Squats for 40 seconds
- Rest for 20 seconds
- Pushups for 40 seconds
- Rest for 20 seconds.
- Mountain Climbers for 40 seconds
- Rest for 20 seconds.
- Put it all together: Squat, push up position, push up, left leg, right leg
"At the end of this, you should be pretty winded," says Massetti. "Try it out for 2 more rounds to finish this workout."
3Jump Rope Combo
"If you are looking to use minimal gym equipment while traveling or at home, this workout is perfect for you," says Patrick Thompson, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer on Trainerize.me, over email. Here's what you do:
- Jump Rope for 1 Minute
- Bent Arm Plank for 1 Minute
- Walking Lunges for 1 Minute
- Jumping Jacks for 1 Minute
- Rest 1 Minute
Repeat for 4 sets
If you do have time to go to the gym, you can try this quick barbell workout. "If you are a daily gym goer but need a quick workout to do, barbell complexes are the way to go," says Thompson. Here's what it entails:
- Barbell Front Squat
- Barbell High Pull
- Barbell Bent Over Row
- Barbell Romanian Deadlift
- Rest 60-90 seconds
Repeat for 4 sets
This Tabata workout involves alternating Compass Squats and Sprawlees for 20 seconds each followed by 10 seconds of rest in between. "Remember this is only 20 second, so bring your intensity and give it all you've got," says trainer Hannah Eden over email. Here's what you do:
Repeat 4 times
6Jumping Jacks With Squats
"Jumping jacks are an underrated, full-body workout and one of the best weight bearing exercises on the planet," says trainer Jimmy Minardi over email. "This simple move offers cardio and agility and targets every muscle group. "Do 30 Jumping Jacks and alternate with 30 Deep Squat Jacks. After jumping with your feet wide, return to a deep squat to target your calf, thigh, gluteal and abdominal muscles."
If you're someone who hates straight running, you'll want to try this running workout that incorporates different intensities of running along with some other workouts in between. Here's what you do:
- Minute 1: Light jog for 60 seconds
- Minute 2: Medium intensity run 15 seconds, Light jog 15 seconds, Medium intensity run 15 seconds, and Light jog 15 seconds
- Minute 3: Toe taps on the curb for 30 seconds, Squat for 30 seconds
- Minute 4: 15 second light jog, 15 second sprint, 10 second light jog, 20 second sprint
- Minute 5 20 seconds left side shuffle, staying low bringing one foot to the other, 20 seconds turn around and jog light backwards, staying on your toes, 20 seconds right side shuffle staying low, bringing one foot to the other