10-minute micro-workouts are the smartest way to get fit quickly


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Photo: Getty Images/Corey Jenkins

When I plan my workouts each week, I find myself having to squeeze them in between a.m. events, work, and post-work dinner plans. And let me tell you: Trying to carve out an hour(ish)-long gym block into my jam-packed day can be a challenge, but I do it, because I’ve always been told that workouts are supposed to be 45 to 60 minutes long.

But…are they really? The Center for Disease Control’s physical activity guidelines advise everyone to get 150 minutes of a moderate-intensity workout per week in order to be physically healthy. And yet, they’re not exactly specifying how you should be accumulating those 150 minutes. In fact—wait for it—a study has shown that shorter burts of effort actually resulted in the same benefits as a single 50-minute long cardio sesh. So yes, it’s totally fair to get in uber-short workouts more frequently (as in: 10 minutes of effort, 3 times a day, according to My Fitness Pal) to reap the same benefits.

“We’re all super busy, so it can be hard to find motivation during precious downtime,” says Ivana Bolf, a trainer at Body Space Fitness in New York. “So it’s important to get moving whenever possible, even if it’s for short periods of time.”

Think about planning your mini-workouts the same way you would plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Engaging in these quick, 10-minute sweat sessions will give you plenty of body benefits, and besides that, they’re much easier to pencil in between your 3 p.m. coffee and 4 p.m. meeting than your usual hour-long HIIT class. But, Bolf warns, that’s not to say that you can get by with, say, 10-minutes of easy-does-it yoga flows and expect to reap the same benefits. Instead, she recommends using these micro-workouts to rev up the intensity.

“I find EMOMs (every minute on the minute) to be the most efficient and challenging workout,” she says. “Basically, I’d set a timer for 10 minutes. At the top of the minute, begin a set of 3 to 4 exercises to complete as fast as possible within that minute. Whatever time you have left after finishing the exercises is your recovery time.”

For instance, it can take you 40 seconds to complete everything—so you’d then have 20 seconds to recover. “At the top of the next minute, start the exercises all over again,” says Bolf. “The goal is to try and complete them in the same amount of time every minute.” Of course, even though it’s a short sweat sesh, it’s definitely hard—you’re going to sweat.

While you can certainly do body weight exercises, Bolf personally recommends incorporating a kettlebell for a boost in strength training. Her recommended 10-minute routine?

  1. 6 kettlebell swings
  2. 6 kettlebell overhead presses
  3. 6 kettlebell goblet squats
  4. Repeat the sequence for 10 minutes

For more fitness challenges, try this modified plank seal walk (it’s hard), or these arm exercises you can do without weights

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