Cut down on exercise time and improve your results with this fast workout.
When it comes to fitness, intensity beats time. Research over the past few years has shown that as little as four minutes of high-intensity exercise can deliver the same health benefits as 30 minutes of moderate activity.
Now, new research suggests that frequency beats time too. A recent European Journal of Applied Physiology study found that performing three 10-minute workouts a day improved cardiovascular health more than one 30-minute sweat session.
To help you get the most health benefits in the least time, try this five-minute bodyweight circuit from Patrick Thompson, a personal trainer in Peoria, Illinois.
Warm up by walking in place for five minutes.
To do the circuit, perform the first exercise for one minute, then move immediately to the next. Once you finish the fifth exercise, your workout is complete. Ideally, you’ll want to perform the workout multiple times throughout the day. But if you can’t, don’t sweat it! Try again the next day.
1. Bodyweight Squat
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, weight in your heels and toes slightly pointed out. Gently clasp one hand with the other in front of you. From here, push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower your hips so that your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor. As you lower your hips, keep your chest high and eyes focused forward, and lift your arms to shoulder height. Pause, then push through your heels to return to start. Repeat for 1 minute.
Make it easier: If you can’t squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, squat only as far as you can with good form, even if it’s just a couple of inches.
2. Knee Pushup
Lie flat on your stomach on the floor, your hands on the floor in line with your shoulders and your knees on the floor hip-width apart (you can spread them farther for extra balance). Brace your core and glutes. From here, keeping your torso flat and eyes focused between your hands, press through your hands until your body forms a straight line from head to knees. Don’t let your back dip or round. Pause, then slowly lower your body to return to start. Repeat for 1 minute.
Make it harder: Straighten your legs, and do regular pushups.
Lie flat on your back on the floor, your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and about six inches from your hips. Brace your core. Push through your heels, and squeeze your glutes until your hips are fully raised, your body forming a straight line from knees to shoulders. Your shins should be completely vertical. If they aren’t, adjust your foot placement closer or farther from your hips. Pause, then slowly lower your hips to return to start. Repeat for 1 minute.
4. Bent-Arm Plank
Lie on your stomach on the floor, your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and forearms flat on the floor. Focus your eyes between your hands. Your legs should be resting behind you, knees hip-width apart (or slightly farther apart for extra balance). From here, lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body forms a straight line from head to ankles, and squeeze your upper back, core, and glutes. Hold this position for 1 minute.
Make it easier: Hold for as long as possible, rest, and repeat until you reach 1 minute total. Or do the move with your knees on the floor, and lift your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to knees.
5. Wall Sit
Stand tall against a wall, and step your feet two to three feet away from the base of the wall. Rest your arms by your sides. From here, lean back and slowly slide your hips and torso down the wall until you are in a comfortable squat position. Keeping your torso against the wall and your hands off your thighs, hold the position for 1 minute.
Make it easier: Hold for as long as possible, rest, and repeat until you reach 1 minute total.