Do Short Workouts Really Make a Difference?

Hombre entrenando en casa

Do 7-minute and 10-minute workouts really work?

This question crosses your mind as you realize that today, once again, you don’t have enough time to exercise. Your schedule feels out of control… And your energy level seems to be dropping.

Will only a couple of minutes of exercise be worth it?

Here’s what you should know:

  • Quick workouts DO have benefits for general health & fitness
  • Quick workouts, in combination with a calorie deficit, can take you closer to your weight loss goals, but are not ideal for achieving more specific goals (such building bigger arms or butt, etc.)

BENEFITS OF QUICK WORKOUTS

What benefits can you get from very short workouts?

  • An increase in cardiometabolic health can be achieved with as little as a 4-minute workout routine. Several studies noted a positive effect of high intensity exercise in overweight and/or sedentary individuals. For those with very low levels of fitness, this can mean a significant decrease in mortality risk.(1, 2)

Can you do high intensity exercise if you are overweight?

Yes, stationary cycling and walking (especially uphill) can be done at a high intensity even if you are overweight and have a low fitness level. Jogging is an option, too, but remember to increase the distance slowly to avoid injury. A combination of walking and jogging is a good start.

  • Better control of blood sugar levels has been noted in overweight individuals following a 2-month short, but high intensity, period of exercise. Plus, short workouts don’t make you as exhausted as regular workouts, so your appetite won’t overwhelm you right after you finish.

Woman running

  • Improved mental focus is noticeable after completing just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise. This makes short workouts a great option when you need to take a break between two mental activities.(3)

Keep in mind:

The studies that show evidence of benefits from short workouts include high intensity, “all-out” exercises, such as sprints, done over a course of 8+ weeks. What does this mean for you? When opting for a short workout, aim to keep the intensity high, at about 8 in a range of 1 to 10 level of discomfort.

Is a short workout better than no workout?

Clearly, the answer is yes! Quick, short workouts are great when you travel, have only 10 minutes for a workout before you have to take a shower, or just want to gain more focus throughout the day.

However, if your goal is something other than being more focused and improving your health, keep reading…

Man working out in his room

SHORT WORKOUTS: GOALS & EXPECTATIONS

Despite what the media wants you to believe, there is no shortcut to success. Quick workouts can be a great tool to use on your road to success. But they shouldn’t be your only choice if you want to achieve a specific goal.

If your goal is to…

  1. Lose weight: For optimal weight loss, focus on a caloric deficit. Diet and exercise will both play a role here. Since weight loss takes time and consistency, short workouts are a good option to stay on track when you run out of time. 
  2. Get a six pack: Having visible abs is about losing weight without losing muscle mass. Short workouts are a great option on days when you want to focus on cardio, but want to add a quick muscle pumping routine to your day.
  3. Build muscle: For bigger arms or glutes you’ll have to work a bit more than 10 minutes a day. However, on days when you don’t have time for a full workout, you can still squeeze in a good, focused pump in a just a couple of minutes with the help of isolation exercises. For inspiration check out best bodyweight exercises for each muscle group.

What results can you expect if you do a 10-minute workout every day?

If you live a sedentary lifestyle and are out of shape, you can improve your general fitness with 10-minute workouts. Focus on short bouts of vigorous exercise (over 90% of your HRmax) and stay consistent for at least a month. 3-5 times a week is enough.

For achieving specific fitness goals, it’s still better to have a training plan, such as this 12-week bodyweight training plan that you can do at home.

Speaking of a quick workout…Next time a commercial break is on TV, you could test yourself to see how many of these Burpee variations you can do with good form without stopping. 😉

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Hana Medvesek With a background in physical therapy, Hana strongly believes that movement is medicine. She likes to run, lift weights, and try out simple, healthy recipes. View all posts by Hana Medvesek »