It can be hard to find time in your busy day to fit in an hour long workout session. But, that doesn’t mean you should skip your workout completely!
On those busy days when it’s hard to find time to exercise, you can certainly cram a productive and calorie burning workout into a short 15 minute routine.
But, is a 15 minute workout enough?
Yes, in fact, studies show that a mere 15 minutes of light exercise daily may increase life expectancy by 3 years, reduce the risk of dying of cancer by 10% and reduce the risk of death by 14%.
Of course, more exercise is better, but on those days where a mere 15 minutes of exercise is all we can squeeze in we can still feel confident that we are improving our health and bettering ourselves.
Even when you’re crunched for time, it’s important to spend the first 3 to 5 minutes warming up. March in place for a few minutes and perform a short series of dynamic stretches. This is simply to get your muscles warmed up and raise your heart rate.
Now, it may go against conventional wisdom, but forgo static stretching before your workout. That’s right, studies show that static stretching, such as bending over and touching your toes or tossing your leg over a fence and stretching your hamstrings causes your muscles to tighten and not relax.
Why? Because stretching before exercising causes your body to think it’s going to be overstretched. Your muscles then tighten to try and correct this problem which means you won’t be able to move as freely making it more likely you’ll get injured.
Don’t write off stretching completely, however. Stretching is important, especially for those wanting to become more flexible, but there’s a time and place for it. Stretch before bed or after working out. Or join a Yoga class and focus on more active stretches – instead of stretching a particular muscle, you’ll be stretching the ligaments, tendons and joints around it.
Once you’ve spent a few minutes warming up you can move on to the core of your workout. Keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish with this workout. Are you targeting just lower or upper body? Are you looking for a full body workout? Do you want a cardio type workout or a resistance workout?
No matter what you decide your routine will be for the day, just be sure that at the end of the week you end up working the entire body and mix in both cardio and resistance training.
Easy 15 Minute Workouts At Home
There are several ways you can fit in a quick 15 minute workout. And none of them require you to change into workout clothes!
A quick workout can be done the more traditional way, for example, at a gym or at home performing typical exercise type movements or you can simply incorporate a calorie burning workout into everyday activities.
You can get a quick workout by using your own body weight, some dumbbells or an exercise ball. I’ll also show you a way to get 3 times the results in just a quick 15 minute workout.
Exercise Ball Workout
This quick workout utilizes just one piece of equipment: the exercise ball. Spend 3 – 5 minutes warming up then perform exercises 1 and 2 back to back with no rest for 12-15 repetitions. Finish up with core exercises 3 and 4 below.
- Ball Pushup – Lay flat on the ball with the ball under your hips and your hands flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself into the pushup position and push off while simultaneously bending your knees until your feet touch the ground and you are in the squat position. This will set you up for the Ball Squat & Raise next.
- Ball Squat & Raise – Once in the squat position, grab the ball and stand up while simultaneously raising the ball out in front of you and over your head. Lower yourself back down, placing the ball back under you and lean forward into the Ball Push up position again. Repeat 12- 15 times.
- Ball Crunch – Lay in the crunch position on top of the exercise ball with your butt about 10 inches off the ground and your hands held straight out over your head. Raise yourself up while maintaining a constant tightening of your stomach muscles until your torso is perpendicular with the ground. Slowly lower yourself back down. Do 12-15 repetitions.
- Side Plank – This exercise you can do with or without the ball depending on your level of fitness. Lay on your side and raise yourself up onto your elbow with your feet still on the ground, keeping your body in a perfectly straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Light Dumbbell Workout
This full body workout can be done in 15 minutes or less and only requires a light pair of dumbbells. Spend a few minutes warming up then move onto the main exercises. Perform each exercise back to back, rest 1 minute then perform each exercise again. Add in some core work such as crunches or planks as time permits.
- Squat press – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a pair of dumbbells. Lower yourself into the squat position while pressing the dumbbells straight up and over your head. Lower the dumbbells back down as you stand back up. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps.
- Pushups – Get into the pushup position, with your knees on the ground if you can’t perform regular pushups. Perform 8 to 10 repetitions.
- Lunge with front raise – Stand with feet shoulder-width apart while holding a pair of light dumbbells at your sides. Take a long step forward with your right leg, until your left knee is close to the floor while simultaneously raising the dumbbells straight out in front of you until your arms are parallel to the floor. Pause, then lower the dumbbells as you push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 8 to 10 reps on each side.
- Single-leg bent over row – Stand with a pair of light dumbbells at your sides. Raise one leg slightly off the floor and bend forward at the hips with your weight on the other leg until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Let your arms hang down so the weights are near your shins. Pull the weights up to the sides of your chest, squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top, then return to the starting position. Stand on the opposite leg for the second set. Perform 8 to 10 reps on each leg.
This type of training is not new to most athletes or fitness trainers, but it’s just starting to gain popularity amongst recreational fitness enthusiasts.
Interval training consists of short bouts of intense exercise, often times between 15 seconds to a minute, followed by a brief recovery period. Studies have shown that this type of exercise burns more fat and can have the same effects as doing longer, sustained physical activity such as jogging for an hour.
Martin Gibala, chair of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario published a study last year finding that people who did short-burst training for a total of 1.5 hours a week (including rest periods) achieved the same exercise-induced changes in their muscles over six weeks as people who did more traditional endurance training for upwards of 4.5 hours a week.
Short burst training is also a great way to spice up a boring routine. Try replacing one or two workouts a week of your traditional endurance exercise with a short burst routine to vary your workouts, spend less time working out and possibly even achieve better results!
Quick 15 Minute Workouts Anywhere
Arguably the easiest way to fit a quick workout into your day is to incorporate it into your everyday activities. Here are a few ideas to quickly whip yourself into shape without setting foot in a gym or lifting a single weight.
- Use a pedal machine for 15 minutes at your work desk. Pedal machines make it easy to burn a ton of calories without getting out of your desk chair. They are extremely small and inconspicuous, meaning you can pedal without anybody knowing you’re doing it. Check out these effective desk exercises for more ideas.
- Do simple exercises such as jumping jacks, crunches, pushups, etc. during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show. You could get a quick and easy 15 minute workout in during one half hour show.
- Take advantage of your breaks at work and walk around your building. Invite a co-worker to join you and even wear a pedometer to record the amount of steps you take. Aim to improve that number over time.
- Park a few blocks away from work and walk. If it takes you 7 to 8 minutes to walk from your car to your desk then that’s 15 minutes of exercise a day (round trip) right there. This can also be done every time you go to the store, as well.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator when possible. This can be extremely effective and total 15 minutes or more of exercise if you bounce from floor to floor quite often.
- Be more active with your family! Take the dog for a daily walk after dinner or play with the kids.
- Trade your riding lawn mower in for a push mower. Depending on the size of your yard you could get well over a 15 minute workout.
- Combine a few (or all) of the above and watch as the weight easily melts away without ever hitting the gym! Need more ideas? Here are 30 easy exercise tips to get you moving!