The Workout You Should Do When You Only Have 10 Minutes

By Locke Hughes |

Fit in an effective full-body workout even on your busiest days.

SilverSneakers 10-Minute Workout

In a perfect world, you’d never miss a trip to the gym or your favorite SilverSneakers class. In reality, sometimes life gets in the way. When that happens, here’s the perfect solution: a total-body workout you can do at home in 10 minutes flat.

Think 10 minutes isn’t enough? Science says you can actually get results in as little as seven minutes. A recent study laid out exactly how to exercise to get the maximum results in the minimum amount of time. The trick is to strategically order the exercises you perform so you’re working different muscle groups each time. This allows for one set of muscles to rest while you work the next, resulting in a super-efficient, super-effective routine.

While much of the research focuses on high-intensity training, the general concept of shorter but smarter workouts can be applied to any fitness level. “Beginners or people who haven’t worked out in quite some time can expect several benefits from just a 10-minute workout,” says Franklin Antoian, an American Council on Exercise personal trainer and founder of iBodyFit. “A well-designed workout can help strengthen your heart, increase bone density, prevent muscle loss, and provide stress relief—all in just 10 minutes.”

Antoian designed the total-body workout below for SilverSneakers. Keep it handy for especially busy days or make it part of your regular routine, doing it three times per week on nonconsecutive days. As you get comfortable and your fitness improves, gradually work up to five days per week.

Warm up by walking in place for five minutes. Have some extra time? Prepare your muscles and reduce risk of injury with this quick warmup.

The 10-Minute, Total-Body Workout You Can Do at Home

What you’ll need:

  • Chair
  • Set of light dumbbells (water bottles or cans of food work too)
  • Yoga block (a small, soft ball or a small pillow work too)
  • Watch or timer

What you’ll do: Perform each exercise in order for one minute, doing as many reps as possible with proper form. Try not to rest between exercises. If a full minute feels too challenging at first, start with 45 seconds of exercise and 15 seconds of rest.

1. Arm Circles

SilverSneakers Arm Circles

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Extend arms straight out to sides at shoulder height with palms facing down. Swing arms forward in a circular motion for 30 seconds, then backward for 30 seconds. Focus on keeping your shoulders down and back, and maintain a very slight bend in your elbows.

2. Shoulder Shrug

SilverSneakers Shoulder Shrug

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold dumbbells with arms at your sides and palms facing your body. Slowly raise your shoulders as if you were trying to touch them to the bottom of your ears. Pause, and then lower and repeat. Continue for one minute.

Make it easier: Perform slow and controlled reps without using dumbbells.

3. Wall Pushups

SilverSneakers Wall Pushup

How to do it: Stand at arm’s length away from a wall with your feet hip-width apart. Place your palms shoulder-width apart on the wall. Bend your elbows and lower your upper body toward the wall, keeping your core tight so your body stays in a line (no dipping in your back). Pause, and then press back to the starting position and repeat. Continue for one minute.

Make it harder: Take a step back so you have to push more bodyweight away from the wall. Still too easy? Perform the pushups on your knees or in a traditional pushup position.

4. Seated Adduction

SilverSneakers Seated Adduction

How to do it: Sit in a chair and place a yoga block between your knees. (A pillow or rolled-up towel can work, too.) Press your knees together to squeeze the yoga block, and pause for three seconds. Relax and repeat. Continue for one minute.

5. Hip Extension

SilverSneakers Hip Extension

How to do it: Start on your hands and knees with palms flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Your neck should be in line with your back, and your gaze should be down or slightly forward. With foot flexed and knee bent, slowly raise your right foot toward ceiling until thigh is parallel with floor. Pause, and then lower. Continue for 30 seconds, and then repeat with left leg.

Make it easier: Try it standing and keeping your leg straight. Stand holding the back of a sturdy chair for support. Slowly lift your right foot off of the floor and extend your leg straight behind you. Pause, and then bring forward. Continue for 30 seconds, and then repeat with left leg.

6. Bridge

SilverSneakers Bridge

How to do it: Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Press your heels into the floor to raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause for three seconds in this position, and then lower and repeat. Continue for one minute.

7. Clamshell

SilverSneakers Clamshell

How to do it: Lie on your left side on the floor, with your hips and knees bent 45 degrees. Your right leg should be on top of your left leg, heels together. Keeping your feet in contact with each other, raise your right (top) knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Pause, then return to the starting position. Don’t allow your left (bottom) leg to move off the floor. As the name suggests, think of a clamshell opening as you do the exercise. Continue for 30 seconds, and then switch sides and repeat.

8. Seated Knee Raise

SilverSneakers Seated Knee Raise

How to do it: Sit at the front of your chair with knees bent and feet flat, holding onto the sides for balance. You can do this exercise with eyes open. Or for deeper concentration and a balance challenge, try it with your eyes closed. With your knee bent, lift your right leg about six inches off the floor. Pause for three seconds in this position, and then lower and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating for one minute.

9. Biceps Curl

SilverSneakers Biceps Curl

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold dumbbells with arms at your sides and palms facing forward. Keeping your upper arms still, bend your elbows (not your wrists) to bring the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Pause, and then slowly lower and repeat. Each time you return to the starting position, completely straighten your arms. Continue for one minute.

Make it easier: Perform slow and controlled reps without using dumbbells.

Make it harder: Use heavier dumbbells.

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10. Row with Triceps Kickback


How to do it: Grab a dumbbell in your right hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to the side of a flat bench. Keeping your knees soft, place your left hand on the bench, and hinge from your hips so your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Let the dumbbell hang at arm’s length from your shoulder, palm facing in.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the dumbbell up to the side of your torso, keeping your elbow tucked close to your side. Then keeping your upper arm stationary, extend your right arm behind you.

Pause, bend your arm back to the row position, and then lower the dumbbell. That’s one rep. Do eight to 10 reps per side, or as many as you can with good form.

Make it easier: Practice each move—the row and the triceps kickback—separately first. When you’re ready to combine them, try doing the movement without weights to get a feel for it. Then add a light weight.

Make it harder: Use a heavier dumbbell.

Note: The exercises in this workout may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. Please consult your physician before beginning a physical activity program to make sure it’s safe for you.

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