After a 30-minute run, I’m pretty beat. My legs are sore AF, I’m out of breath, and I’m pretty much ready to get out of the gym. But! I like to incorporate strength training into my workouts as well, which is why I’m currently obsessed with 5-minute strength training routines.
So many workout streaming companies—from Peloton to Aaptiv—offer 5-minute workouts that focus on different body parts (say, your abs, or your arms and shoulders) as quick-hitting exercise options that are easier to squeeze into your routine than a full strength training sesh. And even if you’re not following along with a trainer, you can do your own body part-focused regimen that only takes 5 minutes. Either way, as you go through them, it starts to undoubtedly burn. Case in point: Last night I was doing an ab sesh, and by minute 2 I was quaking.
But even though I can confirm firsthand that you can certainly get your muscles to burn in under 5 minutes, I can’t help but wonder whether that’s really enough time to truly be working a body part. Yes, workouts can be super effective if you go hard in a short amount of time, but I’m curious whether 5 minutes is all you need to strength train a part of your bod. Turns out, it all comes down to consistency.
“Building strength takes a lot of time and consistency,” says Kendall Janicola, an instructor at New York’s Fhitting Room. “Doing a few bicep curls for 5 minutes once a month will make little to no difference in strength, but it also depends on what the goal is. If someone’s going from a sedentary lifestyle and has never picked up a kettlebell before, 5 minutes a few times a week is definitely better than not doing anything.”
“Five minute strength workouts can be very effective, especially when done a few times throughout the week and definitely if paired up with cardio workouts.” —Peter Jenkins
But the good news: “It’s hard to believe, but 5-minute strength workouts can be very effective, especially when done a few times throughout the week and definitely if paired up with cardio workouts,” Blink Fitness‘s director of personal training Peter Jenkins says. “Lifting for 5 minutes a day can boost your energy and your mood, increase your metabolism, and allow you to actually see long-term changes in your body. Core and arm strength workouts don’t need to be 30 minutes long to be effective.”
Also, those 5-minute seshes can add up over time, according to Hannah Marie Corbin, an instructor at Peloton. “Before you know it, what started out as a challenging five minutes has turned into your warmup!” she says. “Even though you might need to dedicate more time to longer sessions depending on your goals, sometimes the busyness of our daily lives is the deciding factor for whether we workout or we don’t. When faced with a choice of five minutes or zero, five minutes wins ten out of ten times. Sometimes, a beautifully-crafted short burn is all you need to point yourself in the right direction.”
If you have specific fitness goals, however, you have to take other factors into consideration. “If you’re looking to increase the weight of your kettlebell goblet squat by 30 pounds in a couple of weeks, for example, 5 minutes is just not enough time to fit in the necessary exercises to make that happen,” says Janicola.
Really, it all comes down to how often you’re squeezing in these mini sessions. “Typically, I recommend that 5-minute strength sessions be taken 1 to 3 times by themselves or tacked on as an extra mile 3 to 5 times after a ride or workout, so you’re left eager for more,” says Corbin. Sounds like good news for my schedule.
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