On top of maintaining physical health, exercise has been shown to promote mental health and help manage stress, so ditching your daily exercise session when you're busy and stressed is not the best idea. That said, we all have those days (or weeks) when we’re so completely overloaded it’s impossible to imagine fitting anything else in. In those times, it’s crucial to have quick, no-frills workouts that you can easily fit into your day.
Since colder weather is just starting in, we consulted personal trainers, gym owners and professional athletes to get their top indoor workouts that take less than 30 minutes. There’s no excuse, everyone has time for these awesome routines.
When it comes to winter, one of the very best reasons for working out is to prepare for the mountain. This thigh burner warm-up workout from Red Bull Big Mountain Freeskiing Athlete, Michelle Parker, will help get you mountain-ready.
"A little warm up that I like to do is 10 squats, 10 squat jumps, 10 lunges and 10 jumping lunges. Repeat that 3 times to feel the burn. You can do those anywhere and anytime. Got 10 minutes to spare at the office? Get to work. If you periodically and spontaneously work out throughout the day, you’ll feel so good and you’re going to benefit from it too! If you’ve got a friend, it’s always easier with two. You can push each other and get the intensity up! If you have a bench nearby, start on some squat jumps and then go from there. Every little bit helps!" Add this 10 minute warm-up to a short run or cycling session for a great 30 minute workout.
A former competitive weightlifter turned rower and owner of the personal training gym Anatomically Correct, Mike Creamer said indoor rowing “can be the most efficient, effective and challenging workout for the whole body.” Here’s a HIIT indoor rowing workout he practices himself:
“10 intervals of 600 meters with a minute and 20 seconds of rest in between for a total of approximately four miles of rowing in a little over 20 mins…In just a little over 20 mins of work I burned 430 calories. I was working pretty hard and by my last interval my heart rate was up to about 90 percent of max.” He does a HIIT rowing workout three times a week, but varies the interval time and you can also adjust for whatever time you have.
“I'm a professional adventure athlete [and] this time of year I do a six week cycle focused on muscular endurance,” said Patrick Sweeney, who holds a world record in mountain biking, finished second in the Olympic trials for rowing and hosts adventure shows. “I choose 10 exercises and do 30-40% of my 1 rep maximum in weight. Then I do 50-60 reps of each exercise. The only rest I get in between each exercise is switching from one exercise to the next. This is an awesome off-season workout for bikers, skiers, mountaineers and climbers and really keeps power going at the end of long races and helps prevent injuries.” Below are a few of his suggested exercises for the workout.
Leg press or Squats
Incline sit ups
Hip Adduction Machine
Kettlebell Bench Press
Bosu ball curls
Side box jumps
It’s widely accepted that yoga builds strength, increases flexibility and reduces stress, but you might think that the only way you can get those benefits is by taking an hour-long yoga class. Shorter sessions provide big benefits too.
Here’s how it works: Fit in a session first thing in the morning and make it even more accessible by practicing at home. Just a few of your favorite poses is enough and the whole session shouldn’t take more than a half hour, but fitting it in will help your mind and body feel great. Beginners should try these 12 simple poses.
“A fantastic method of training that takes very little time and is extremely effective is slow-movement training. This type of training is done by performing 20 second reps—10 seconds concentrically (the up portion of a push-up, for example) and 10 seconds eccentrically (the down part of the push-up) with no pauses in movement to absolute muscle failure,” said Victor Adam, a certified personal trainer and owner of Axiom Health and Fitness. “[It’s] great for when you don't have access to weights as it makes your body weight sufficient to make strength and endurance gains, but the same benefits carry over when used for resistance training, either with weights or bands. However, if utilizing with weights keep in mind that this method exercise is best done with isolated movements such as the leg press or pec-deck, since the weaker muscles will give out well before your primary muscles will (such as the triceps if performing bench press).”
This indoor alternative to a traditional trip to the gym is from Samantha Clayton, a former Olympian and senior director of fitness education at Herbalife. She suggests doing each exercise for 30 seconds, with no break in between, then taking 20 seconds of rest and starting again.
Mountain Climbers—this move challenges your entire body, especially your core.
Crunch with Twist—a core move that focuses on the obliques, this take on a traditional crunch will have you “engaging your abdominal muscles as you take your right elbow toward your left knee.”
Speed Skater—this exercise is great for getting your heart rate up and strengthening your legs.
Up-Down Plank—a total body move that especially targets the core. Here’s how to do it.
Side Hops—great for getting your heart rate up and working the small muscles and tendons in the feet and ankles, complete this exercise by putting a line of tape on the ground and hopping over it.
Lateral Lunge—tone up your inner thighs with this sideways lunge move.
One of the best workouts I use involves only one dumbbell,” said Henry Halse, a strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer. And this particular workout is great for boosting strength in your arms, legs, back, and shoulders.
Start by getting a dumbbell that's on the lighter side (20 pounds or less for most people) and go through the exercise circuit as many times as you can in 15 minutes. When you’re done, rest for three minutes and then set a timer for 12 minutes and do it again.
10 Goblet Squats
5 Shoulder Presses (each arm)
5 Reverse Lunges (each leg)
10 Dumbbell Rows (each arm)
5 push-ups (from your knees if you have trouble with full push-ups)
Another great workout that can be done almost anywhere, with any amount of time is a stair run. Great cardio and strength benefits for the lower body make this quick workout worthwhile.
Here’s how it works: According to Certified Nutritional Consultants and Co-Founders of Project Juice, Lori Kenyon Farley and Marra St. Clair, “any set of stairs…will do, and you will get a great interval workout. Sprint up the stairs and cool down as you head back to the bottom. Aim for 10 sets, with variation between hitting every step one set and every other the next.”
“This workout is a big calorie burner and focuses on full body strength,” said Krista Stryker, a personal trainer and founder of the blog and app, 12 Minute Athlete. “Since it requires no equipment, it's perfect for indoors.” To start, set an interval timer for 18 rounds of 10-second and 30-second intervals. Rest on the 10-second intervals, then rotate through the following exercises on the 30-second intervals:
Squat tuck jump combo
Push up plank jumps
Burpee lateral jumps
This simple piece of equipment may be the most underrated fitness tool out there. Kettlebells boost functional fitness and offer strength and cardio benefits—the best part, though, is that you can get a great workout in just 20 minutes.
Here’s how it works: Chances are you know about the kettlebell swing, but there are tons of other moves that will challenge you. Pick a few and create your own workout or find a circuit—kettlebell workouts can be customized to fit into your schedule, regardless of how little time you have.