Sometimes my idiot brain jumps into perfectionism and the little idiot voice in my head tells me that because I only have 10 minutes available for a workout that it’s not worth doing.
What do I do when this happens? I don’t work out.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The fact is I’ve had many fantastic 10 minute workouts when time is tight. 7 months ago my wife had a baby. We’ve been busy since then and sometimes all I have is a few 10 minute chunks of time for working out. More often than not, I dive into a super intense 10 minute workout… but sometimes I fall for the “if I can’t work out for 30 or 60 minutes, there’s no point” mentality.
Are 10 minute workouts worth doing?
Absolutely. I’ve gone to the gym for 10 minutes to crank out a super intense superset workout. I’ve never regretted it. Even a short 2-muscle superset routine keeps me on my weight lifting schedule (whether a 3, 4 or 5 day split).
More importantly, by getting in those 10 minute workouts when that’s all the time I have (instead of skipping them), I maintain my momentum. Momentum is an extremely powerful and effective element to working out consistently in the long run.
When I have momentum, I never skip a workout. When I skip a workout or 2 in the past, I’ve lost momentum and end up skipping more workouts until I dig in and get my momentum back.
Multiple 10 minute workouts throughout the day
You may be too busy to fit in a 30 or 60 minute workout, but anyone on any day can scrape together 3 ten minute chunks of time to get in a full regimen throughout the day. Splitting up workouts is great because you can do super intense sessions.
In fact, I’ve had many 3 mini workout session days. I’ll start with a 10 minute stretching routine in the morning. Do an intense 10 minute weight lifting superset routine at lunch. I’ll end the day with 10 minutes of HIIT outside my home or on my treadmill. Bang, that’s 30 minutes of fitness covering all the bases. The best part is it hardly feels like I worked out in the time-sense. It also results in highly focused and intense sessions.
10 minute workout examples
The sky is the limit once you open your mind up to doing 10 minute workouts.
The starting point is to break it down into weight lifting, cardio and stretching. I do all three weekly (often in the same workout or on the same day).
10 minute weight lifting workout routines
I find the best way to do 10 minute weight lifting workouts is to do supersets.
A sample 10 minute weight lifting workout for chest and back is as follows:
3 sets of each of the following supersets:
- Bench press / Seated rows
- Incline DB press / Lat pull downs
Do them with 15 to 20 seconds rest between supersets.
You can create similar supersets for all muscle groups in a multi-day split.
10 minute cardio workouts
Probably the best short cardio workouts are high intensity interval training workouts. These are where you work out at maximum intensity for 10 to 90 seconds, followed by 10 to 60 seconds of low intensity. In 10 minutes you can get in a sweaty, intense cardio workout. The following is an example 10 minute HIIT workout on a treadmill:
- 60 second warm up at 65% maximum heart rate.
- 60 second sprint (7 to 10 mph).
- 30 second walk (3 to 4 mph).
- 60 second sprint
- 30 second walk
- 60 second sprint
- 30 second walk
- 90 second fast run
- 60 second walk
- 60 second sprint
- 60 second walk/cool down
You can adjust the time intervals and intensity according to your ability. The sprint sessions should be high intensity. If that’s walking at 4 mph on an incline, that’s fine. It’s the intensity that matters.
10 minute yoga/stretching workouts
Many people don’t bother stretching at all. I think that’s a big mistake. I find being flexible improves my life as well as my workouts and athleticism.
On the flip side, you don’t have to stretch for 30 or 60 minutes every day to benefit. I often restrict my stretching/yoga routines to 10 minutes.
The goal of any stretching/yoga routines is to hit each of the major stretching motions, which are:
- forward bend
- Backward bend
- Balance pose
For ten minute yoga routines, I may forego standing and balance postures or emphasize them. The key is to get in a great forward stretch, backward bend, inversion and a twist.
A sample 10 minute yoga routine is as follows:
- 3 sun salutations (forward bend, plank, downward dog, lunge both legs, downward dog, forward bend – do each for 1 breath) – 3 minutes
- Seated forward bend: 30 seconds
- Seated twist (30 seconds both sides)
- Cobra (60 seconds)
- Seated V-forward bend (30 seconds)
- Seated V-sideways bend (30 seconds each side)
- Butterfly (30 seconds)
- Shoulder stand (60 seconds)
- Fish pose (30 seconds)
- Savasana (rest pose – 60 seconds)
The above is just an example. You can create many 10 minute yoga workout variations. As you can see, all the major movements are included (even standing with the lunges during the sun salutations).
If you have a 20 minute session only in a given day, you can consider supersetting your yoga workouts with weight lifting sessions.
The cumulative effect is what counts
Even if your life is insanely busy, getting in 1, 2, or 3 ten minute workouts each day will result in a fitter you in the long run. Don’t fall for the trap in thinking that you must have 30, 60 or 90 minutes for a workout deter you from getting and remaining fit. It’s like working – working harder/longer isn’t necessarily better than working smarter. The same applies to fitness.
By Jon Dyer