Easy & quick exercises for the time poor

Busy? No problem. Match exercise to the time you can spare. Work out in 20 minutes or less and get results.
Published 28 October 2015

Workout without the gym


Think you have to run or walk for at least 30 or 40 minutes all in one hit to get results? Good news. Research shows that short bursts of high intensity exercise can actually be more effective for improving fitness than longer workout sessions. And you don’t even need to head to the gym. Check out these 4 quick workouts below.


1. Strength circuit

Time it takes: 10 minutes
How it’s done: Choose three exercises such as tricep dips, alternating lunges and abdominal crunches and do 10–12 reps in sets of six, seven or eight. Work continuously for 10 minutes alternating between each exercise without a rest in between. Alternatively, you can perform five rounds of six to eight reps as fast as possible.
The benefits: Strengthens all of the body’s large muscle groups.


2. The heart pumper

Time it takes: Two minutes
How it’s done: Create a circuit of cardio workouts with 15 seconds spent on each exercise and 15 seconds rest in between. You can perform multiple rounds with different exercises. Here’s an example: push-ups for 15 seconds; tuck jumps for 15 seconds; lunges for 15 seconds; skipping for 15 seconds.
The benefits: “This is a pretty intense workout but it can be done easily without any equipment,” says exercise physiologist Dr Jarrod Meerkin. “It’s designed to build your cardiovascular fitness but will also improve your muscle strength. You should be breathless after this, but your body will recover quickly because it’s a relatively short workout.”


3. Triple blaster

Time it takes: 14 minutes
How it’s done: Choose weighted objects that you can lift 10 times, with the 10th rep being the hardest to complete. Perform as many reps as possible at a constant speed for 60 seconds. Rest for 15–30 seconds and perform another exercise. Have a go with these examples:

  • Squat with weight, 60 seconds
  • Overhead push presses with weight, 60 seconds
  • Plank, 60 seconds

Repeat three times for a 14-minute workout routine.
The benefits: “Research has shown that short bursts of energy, or anaerobic exercise, which does not require the body to work on oxygen use more fat,” says Dr Meerkin.


4. Hippy sit-ups

Time it takes: 10 minutes
How it’s done: Lie on your back with your knees up, feet flat on the floor and hands on your hips. Raise your hips so your bottom comes off the floor, aiming to create a straight line between your knees and shoulders. Hold for five seconds, and lower your bottom back to the floor. Repeat 10 times. Return to the starting position, placing your hands on your thighs. Slowly curl up, lifting your shoulders off the ground and running your hands towards your knees. Do this gently, focusing on using your abdominals. Repeat 10 times. Perform both exercises twice.
The benefits: A strong core region, consisting of your abdominals and lower back muscles, is important to help prevent lower back pain and maintain good posture.