10 Kick-Butt Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less from 10 Kick-Butt Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

10 Kick-Butt Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

Because lack of time tends to be one of the biggest road blocks when it comes to working out on the regular, we rounded up a list of 10 different workouts that can be done in 30 minutes or less (and many fall into the “less” category). Many involve high levels of intensity (that’s the tradeoff for cutting down on time), so they’ll only need to make an appearance in your routine just once or twice a week (because your body needs time to recover when you push its limits). On other days, create a balance by performing them at a more moderate level or incorporating recovery workouts like easy-paced jogging, swimming or cycling. And no matter what you do, make sure that you move (even if it’s just a little bit) every single day.

Tabata

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Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training that was originally designed as a workout that would last for only four minutes. When it was originally developed, the intense portion of the workout had participants reaching up to 170 percent of their VO2 max, which is why the workout could be kept so short. However, because it’s probably unrealistic that you could reach such a level of intensity (nor is it necessarily recommended), your Tabata workout might last anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes incorporating about four high-intensity exercises, performing eight 20-second sets of each exercise with just 10 seconds of rest in between. Check out our Beach Body Workout for an example complete with exercise demonstrations and detailed instructions. 

Interval Workouts

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Interval training (also sometimes referred to as high intensity interval training or HIIT) is similar to Tabata but a little less specific in terms of exercise and rest periods. Essentially, it involves alternating between periods of high- and low-intensity exercise, but you can play around with the exercise to rest ratio. Aside from the fact that interval workouts can be short (about 15 to 30 minutes, at the most) while still allowing you to reap the same (if not better) benefits of a longer workout, one of the biggest advantages is that they can be applied to almost any type of exercise: running, swimming, biking, rowing, jump-roping, etc. For example, a running interval workout might look something like this: five rounds of alternating between 30 seconds at a sprint pace and one minute at a recovery pace. For more examples and an in-depth explanation, see our complete guide to interval training.

AMRAP

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NASM certified personal trainer and creator of TheGetinShapeGirl.com Kyra Williams says that she only prescribes workouts that fit her clients schedules, which is why she highly recommends AMRAP, or “as many rounds as possible” workouts. “It also has to help them reach their goals so I like to tie in high-intensity interval training for max calories burned in a short time, with weight training to build muscle,” she said. 

The following is an example of one of her favorite 20-minute AMRAP workouts: perform 10 squats to overhead press, 10 close-grip triceps push-ups, 10 burpees and 10 sit-ups. The goal: perform as many rounds of those four exercises as possible within 20 minutes. AMRAP can also sometimes stand for “as many reps as possible,” which applies the same idea, only you would choose a few exercises and perform as many reps of each as possible within 60 seconds, for example, for a certain amount of rounds (like four or five). 

Circuit Workouts

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Circuit workouts typically consist of a series of exercises (usually eight) performed one right after the other with little or no rest in between. It’s similar to Tabata or interval training, but the difference is that you don’t rest until all of the exercises are completed. It’s a little less intense and you’re working for longer periods, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be kept short and sweet. Plus, like with interval training, circuit workouts are flexible, meaning they can be organized in wide variety of ways and can include everything from weight lifting and bodyweight exercises to aerobic moves like box jumps and jumping jacks. Below, Williams shares an example of a highly effective bodyweight circuit workout.

Perform as a circuit, eight times through: Sprint for 60 seconds, hold a low forearm plank for 30 seconds, hold a right side-plank for 30 seconds, hold a left side-plank for 30 seconds, perform 15 squat jumps, perform a wall sit for 30 seconds, and rest for 30 seconds.

Sandbag Workouts

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According to ACE fitness pro and educator Elizabeth Andrews, working with a sandbag will challenge your strength, stability, balance and mobility while also stressing your neuromuscular system and working your muscles in all planes of motion. Plus, her six-exercise routine was designed to take just 30 minutes and is a great option for anyone who’s looking to switch up their workout routine with a new method of training. 

Commercial Break Workouts

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Adria Ali, a NASM certified personal trainer and creator of Fit Tip Daily says that fitting a short but effective workout into your day is as easy as catching up on your favorite TV show. Her commercial break workout routine incorporates six kick-butt exercises that you can perform while glued to the tube. Make a habit out of this routine and you’ll be in tip top shape before this season of The Mindy Project wraps up. (Now you’re wishing Netflix had commercials, right?)

Ladder Workouts

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Just like with interval and circuit training, there’s almost an infinite amount of options when it comes to structuring ladder workouts and they can be applied to almost any type of exercise. For example, with running, you might perform a ladder (or pyramid, as it’s sometimes referred to) workout that looks like this: 30 seconds of sprinting, one minute of recovery, 40 seconds of sprinting, one minute of recovery, 50 seconds of sprinting, one minute of recovery, one minute of sprinting, one minute of recovery—then repeat that sequence in reverse and perform the entire circuit two or three times (depending on how long you want the workout to last). 

Chris Cooper, a Precision Nutrition coach and a NSCA certified fitness professional shares another example of a different type of ladder workout below.  

It consists of four exercises: squats, push-ups, alternating lunges and “ice-skaters.” You’ll perform four rounds of the exercises with the amount of time spent resting decreasing with each round. For round one you’ll rest 30 seconds between each exercise, for round two 30 seconds after two exercises, for round three 30 seconds after three exercises and then performing all four exercises without rest for the final round. 

Burpee Ladder

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If you’re looking for a truly intense ladder workout, just add burpees. Pat Gilles, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Pat's Gym in Madison, Wis., suggests the following "12 to 1" ladder workout involving nothing but burpees and bear crawls. Round one would look like this: 12 burpees followed by a 10-meter bear crawl. You’ll repeat this 11 more times decreasing the amount of burpees by one and increasing the bear crawl by 10 meters for each round until you reach one burpee followed by a 120-meter bear crawl. “Burpees are a compound total-body movement that will fatigue your muscles and work you metabolically,” Giles said. “And bear crawls are a great leg, shoulder and core movement.”

The 7-Minute Workout

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When The New York Times first introduced this workout (based on research from the American College of Sports Medicine) Well Blog columnist Gretchen Reynolds described it as a combination long run and weight room workout crammed into, yes, just seven minutes. The experts that Reynolds spoke with suggested performing the routine quickly and intensely to get the most out of the short amount of time (“Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant,” she wrote), but the ACSM researchers who created the workout suggested performing two or three rounds of the circuit for a complete workout time of 14 or 21 minutes. Either way, science has deemed the workout effective and it won’t take you more than a small portion of your day.

12-Minute Bodyweight Workout

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According to the Royal Canadian Air Force, you can build an exceptional amount of fitness by working out for just 12 minutes a day. In the 1950s  the Royal Canadian Air Force presented two sets of exercises for its air staff created by the pioneering sports physiologist Dr. Bill Orban. The workouts were intended for air crew who needed to keep fit but had been posted to remote bases with no gym. So, these simple but effective workouts can be done at home, don’t require any equipment and won’t take you more than 12 minutes. The best part, the workouts progress so that your body will continue to be challenged and build fitness as you continue to work out over a long period of time. See: How a Half-Century-Old Exercise Plan and 12 Minutes a Day Could Make You Your Fittest Yet

10 Kick-Butt Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less