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

Short and simple workouts that are sure to work up a sweat

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again:  there are no shortcuts to getting in shape.

Whether your goal is to build muscle, lose weight or improve your fitness and performance, it’s going to require hard work.

That said, achieving your goal (unless you’re training at a fitness competitor level) doesn’t mean you need to spend hours at the gym either.

Scientific research continues to prove that short bouts of intense exercise can yield many benefits when it comes to both health and fitness, including improved cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic functions as well as increased athletic performance and yes, the ability to the burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. (Just remember, don’t focus on calorie burn as your sole motivation for working out.)

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 those types will 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 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

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.

Click here to see more workouts you can do in 30 minutes or less.