Workout articles, healthy lifestyle tips, and fitness advice.

5 Short Workouts for Your Busy Schedule

Short workouts, 10, 20, or 30 minute workouts


While the American Heart Association recommends regular cardio of approximately 150 minutes a week, don’t let that number intimidate you. Recent studies show that short workouts—even as short as 3 minutes of working out each week—reap real benefits for those with busy lifestyles, which is most of us these days.

So it’s time to get off the couch during commercial breaks, walk around the block at lunch, or challenge your household to a jumping jack contest. Because 30-60 second bursts of movement really do add up. 

Short Workouts? Less Time. Real Benefits.

The recent rise in wearable fitness devices has revealed a surprising secret: those short bursts of energy used in completing everyday tasks contribute positively to overall health and wellness. Yes, running for the bus counts! 

Whether you’re committed to a 30-minute workout a few times a week, sneaking in a 20-minute workout cardio session before work, or barely able to squeeze a 10-minute workout HIIT session in after the kids are in bed, the good news is, it all counts.

How to Build a Quick Workout Routine

To create effective short workouts, select exercises targeting different muscle groups and design a schedule that suits your goals and time constraints. 

  • Develop a Personal Fitness Plan. Are you looking to increase your energy, move and stay more active, focus on fitness, or reduce anxiety and stress? Identifying your reasons to workout will help you tailor your routine accordingly.
  • Choose the Duration. Decide how much time you can allocate to your workouts. Remember, short workout sessions still create results over time. So start small with 5-10 minute workout sessions. 
  • Select Exercises. Focus on compound exercises that simultaneously work for multiple muscle groups, maximizing efficiency. And make sure to mix it up throughout the week, including cardio, strength training, and core work. 
  • Create a Schedule. Decide how many days per week you can commit to working out. For a quick routine, aim for at least three sessions per week. 
  • Warm-Up and Cool-Down. Begin workouts with a dynamic warm-up to prepare your body for exercise. Include exercises like jogging in place, arm circles, or leg swings. Finally, include a brief cool-down period with stretching exercises to help your muscles recover.

Along the way, listen to your body and gradually increase intensity and difficulty over time. It's also a good idea to consult a fitness professional if you're new to exercise or have any specific concerns or limitations.

5 Short Workouts That Yield Maximum Results

Sure, exercise offers many benefits to your overall health, but applying it to everyday life can be tricky. We know you’re in a time crunch, so we’ve hand-selected a few of our favorite short exercises that yield maximum results. 

1. Quick Abs

Looking for a simple way to strengthen the core? Quick ab exercises are perfect for commercial breaks when watching TV, intermittently throughout the day, or during a fiery 10-minute session with a combination of moves.. 

  • Bicycle Crunches. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent. Lift your shoulders off the ground and bring your left elbow to your right knee while straightening your left leg. Switch sides and repeat, alternating for 30–60 seconds before a rest period.
  • Plank. Hold yourself in a modified push-up position with forearms and toes on the floor. Keep the body in a straight line from head to heels and hold for 30–60 seconds.
  • Mountain Climbers. Start in a push-up position with straight arms. Bring the left knee toward the chest, then quickly switch legs, bringing the right knee up and the left leg back. Continue alternating legs for 30–60 seconds before resting.
  • Penguin Crunch.  Lie on your back, and lift your head, shoulders, and upper back off the floor. Swivel your body back and forth as you reach for one heel and then the other.

2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is a form of cardiovascular exercise alternating between short, intense bursts of exercise and brief recovery periods. HIIT aims to maximize the benefits of exercise in a shorter amount of time.

One of the main advantages of HIIT is its time efficiency. HIIT workouts typically range from 10 to 30 minutes, making them suitable for individuals with busy schedules.

HIIT workouts are known for increasing metabolism and energy even after a workout  by helping your body continue to burn calories at an elevated rate post-exercise. 

3. Tabata

Tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) developed by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. 

It involves performing an exercise at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second rest period. This 20/10 work-to-rest ratio is repeated for a total of eight rounds, resulting in a four-minute workout. Popular exercises include squats, push-ups, burpees, sprints, and kettlebell swings. 

The key to Tabata is to push yourself to the maximum effort during the 20-second work periods, aiming to perform as many reps as possible before resting. Itching to try it? Check out this free at-home Tabata routine with Planet Fitness’ trainer Teddy Savage.

4. Go for a Walk

Aerobic exercise, like walking briskly, is an easy way to reap the benefits of exercise regularly. A walk around the block a few times a week builds physical benefits over time. To enjoy the best possible outcomes, try setting short timers (30-60 seconds) to jog or speed walk intermittently during your 10–20 minute walk. 

5. High-Intensity Circuit Training (HICT)

High-Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) is a form of interval training that combines strength training exercises with cardiovascular exercises, creating a challenging and efficient workout. It typically involves performing a series of exercises—like push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, or kettlebell swings, for example—in a circuit format with minimal rest between exercises. 

With these stellar short workout ideas, even those with busy schedules have a chance to get moving. Find a moment for yourself today, even if it’s fitting in just 60 seconds of high knees. Remember—every moment counts!

Looking for 20 and 30-minute workouts led by the pros? Get started now for free on the PF App.