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3 Super Short Workouts You Can Fit In When Your Schedule Is Bonkers

Daily Exercise

3 Super Short Workouts You Can Fit In When Your Schedule Is Bonkers

Photo credit: Julia Hembree Smith From Bicycling They go by several different names: trigger workouts, micro-workouts, intermittent workouts, even “exercise snacks.” The concept is uncomplicated, but the benefits are big. An exercise snack is a short yet effective workout that only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Similar to the edible variety, the […]

Photo credit: Julia Hembree Smith
Photo credit: Julia Hembree Smith

From Bicycling

They go by several different names: trigger workouts, micro-workouts, intermittent workouts, even “exercise snacks.” The concept is uncomplicated, but the benefits are big.

An exercise snack is a short yet effective workout that only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Similar to the edible variety, the idea is that you can do several of them throughout the day.

“Snacking” on exercise is a great way—and sometimes the only way—to get the cumulative amount of daily exercise we need to in order to maintain some fitness during crazy times with unpredictable schedules. A common assumption is that shorter workouts aren’t as beneficial as longer sweat sessions, and as a result, workouts often go out the window entirely because we’re short on time.

But rather than skipping much-needed exercise all together, it’s better to make the mental shift to knowing that shorter workouts are still better than no workout at all. “It’s completely natural to want to set the time aside and push ourselves to do a longer, harder workout,” says Ela Dugan, certified personal trainer and nutrition coach in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “However, due to things outside our control, that’s sometimes not possible, and that’s okay.”

Dividing up a longer training session into shorter chunks of exercise between seemingly endless Zoom meetings offers benefits that are more than just physical. Breaking a sweat will also give your mind some breathing room and provide a release valve for stress and anxiety.

“Moving our bodies is a primal instinct not only to help keep us physically strong, but also to help us complete stress cycles,” explains Dugan. “Running from a predator not only strengthened the runner’s endurance and speed, but it also helped release the anxiety of being chased by a predator. Although our stressors come in much different forms now, the need to release the anxiety caused by stressors is still there. It’s imperative to complete these stress cycles so that we’re not chronically stressed, and working out is one great way to do so.”

On days when our plates are already full, several short workouts can also feel less daunting on an emotional level than a traditional training session. “Due to all the new things we’re having to contend with and adapt to, our mental faculties are being taxed at a much higher rate now,” Dugan says. “Having much less mental bandwidth means that longer training sessions seem much more overwhelming.”

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While we might not be able to squeeze in a long training sessions on busy days, we can usually manage to carve out 10 minutes here and there to sweat. Here are a few go-to exercise snacks that require minimal equipment or set-up time, so you can spend as much of that precious break in your schedule getting sweaty.

How to use these mini workouts: Follow along with the instructions below. Each exercise is demonstrated by a certified personal trainer so you can learn the proper form. Adjust each exercise or workout to your own skill level and preference. Modifications are listed throughout.

Total Body Snack

How to do it: Perform each exercise for one minute with no rest in between. Rest for 1 minute at the end of the set. Repeat the set 2 to 4 times total as time permits.

Renegade Row

Start in a high plank position with your hands on dumbbells directly under shoulders and your core braced. Keep your glutes engaged and your hips as still as possible as you draw right hand up to ribs. Lower the weight back down to start and repeat with the left arm. Continue to alternate for as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Make it easier: Perform this move without the weights or with a lighter set of weights.

Side Lunge

Start with feet hip-width distance apart, holding dumbbells racked at your shoulders. Keeping your core braced, and chest lifted, take a wide step out to the left with left foot. Bend your right knee and send hips back into a lunge while keeping the left leg straight. Push off on the left foot to return back to the starting position. Repeat on right side, then continue to alternate for as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Make it easier: Perform this move without the weights or with a lighter set of weights.

Burpee

Start in a standing position with feet hip-width apart. Jump straight up, land softly, squat back down into a deep squat as you place both hands on the floor in front of your feet. With your hands firmly planted on the floor, jump both feet back into a high plank position and perform a push-up. Immediately jump feet back in toward hands and return to a standing position. This is 1 rep. Repeat as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Make it easier: Perform squats without the jump in-between until you build the strength and endurance to add the jump.

Lower Body Snack

How to do it: Perform each exercise for one minute with no rest in between. Rest for 1 minute at the end of the set. Repeat the set 2 to 4 times total as time permits.

Single-Leg Walk Out

From standing, hinge forward at the waist and bring your hands to the floor while you shift weight to left leg and extend right leg straight back behind you. Walk your hands forward until you’re in a plank position with hands under shoulders, keeping the right leg straight and the right foot off the floor. Walk hands back towards the feet while keeping the right leg straight and the right foot lifted. Return to starting position. Repeat on the left side then continue to alternate to perform as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Make it easier: Perform this move with both feet on the ground for more stability.

Pendulum Lunge

Holding a dumbbell in each hand step back into a reverse lunge. In one fluid motion load the front leg and transition into a forward lunge. Try not to push off the back leg, keep your knee stacked over your ankle, and don’t let your knee move forward past your toes. Perform 3 reps, then switch legs, alternating legs every 3 reps for 1 minute.

Make it easier: Perform this move with bodyweight only.

Jump Squat

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Send hips back like your about to sit in a chair and bend knees to lower down into a squat position. Thighs should be at least parallel to the floor and keep chest lifted. From this squatting position, jump straight up explosively. Land softly and smoothly transition directly back down into a squat. Do not pause between jumps. Perform as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Make it easier: Perform squats without the jump in between until you build the strength and endurance to add the jump.

Upper Body Snack

How to do it: Perform each exercise for one minute with no rest in between. Rest for 1 minute at the end of the set. Repeat the set 2 to 4 times total as time permits.

Shoulder Tap

Start in a high plank position, with hands directly under shoulders, bracing your core and engaging your glutes. Tap your right hand to your left shoulder while keeping your hips still and not letting your pelvis lean to the side. Repeat by tapping left hand to right shoulder. Continue to alternate sides for as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Make it easier: Drop to your knees for a modified plank.

Push-Up

Start in a high plank position with a braced core, engaged glutes and your hands directly inline with your shoulders. Keep your shoulders down away from the ears and slowly bend elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Push your body back up to a high plank position. This is 1 rep. Perform as many repetitions as possible for 1 minute.

Make it easier: Perform the push-up on an incline or drop to your knees.

Squat to Overhead Press

Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells racked at shoulder height. Bend both knees and hinge back at the hips, as though you were sitting in a chair. Lower as far as possible while keeping both feet firmly planted on the floor and chest lifted. Push through the heels and midfoot, press back up to a standing position, and press both dumbbells straight up overhead. Lower dumbbells back to shoulder height. This is 1 rep. Perform as many reps as possible in 1 minute.

Make it easier
: Perform this move without the weights, with lighter weights, or with a resistance band.

All GIFS: Julia Hembree Smith

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