3 Simple Ways to Maximize a Short Workout

Your workout doesn’t have to take hours upon hours. And now that summer is here, that’s especially good right?

Beach weather is finally here, and the last thing you want to do is find yourself cooped up in a gym for hours on end. For many, now is a time to get out and enjoy life, not train for long periods of time. And that means getting your training done fast but effectively is useful.

The good news: that’s possible. Study after study has shown that many of the benefits of working out (improved blood flow, basic muscle maintenance, and better mobility, to name a few) can be felt after just a few minutes of working out. Give yourself, say, 10 to 15 minutes, and you can enjoy a lot of a workout. And hey, some movement always beats no movement, right?

That means you can get your sweat on in just 10 to 15 minutes a day. The key is maximizing that time. Follow these 3 tips to do exactly that.

Embrace the Circuit

If you’re working out quickly, you want to aim for a dense workout format, one that limits rest time in favor of more work. The last thing you need is to spend, say, 7 minutes of a 15-minute workout resting, right?

So, focus on circuits. Pick 4 to 6 exercises and do them for reps or time, keeping rest minimal between sets. You’ll ensure that you keep your heart rate elevated, and that’ll give you a strong cardio effect in a tight timeframe.

Skip the Holds

Exercises that have you “holding” a position, like planks and wall sits, are great in some situations. Just not if you’re tight on time. Yes, you can learn to create tension with these movements, but they also simply don’t challenge your cardiovascular system enough, and when you’re working out in a short window, you want to make sure to choose bang-for-your-buck moves.

So, skip wall sits, planks and hollow holds, and skip anything where you aren’t in motion. Save those for longer workouts, or for core-focused finishers on another day.

Go Hard

You’re not going to set a one-rep max in a tight workout. So, in a context like this, focus on intensity. That means making each rep count and making each rep as hard as it can be. Whether you’re doing jump squats or pushups, aim to create velocity and move quickly. This doesn’t mean getting sloppy with your form; it does mean moving as fast as possible while maintaining impeccable form.

Do this, and you’ll do more than get your heart rate up: You’ll also teach your body to accelerate. Truth be told, that’s something that’s often hard for gym-bros to do when they fall into their standard gym patterns of curls and bench presses. But it’s a valuable skill, teaching your body to be explosive. And when you get back in the gym for a harder, longer workout? It’ll serve you well.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

Fitness Director for Men’s Health Magazine and CSCS trainer -

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He's logged training time with NFL and track athletes, and his current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga. Before joining Men's Health in 2017, he served as a sports and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.