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Short On Time? Fire Up Your Muscles With This 15-Minute Full-Body Workout

by Sarah Kester - August 13, 2021

You can do a lot in 15 minutes: Take a shower, catch some of Love Is Blind: After the Altar, make a healthy breakfast. Also, you can get a solid workout in.

While 15 minutes may not seem like much, there are tons of benefits to keeping your workouts short and sweet.

"Fifteen-minute workouts are effective. In fact, shorter workouts can be easier for people to fit into a busy schedule, because we can usually spare a short amount of time more than once in a day," explains Lynda Lippin, CEO of Lynda Lippin Pilates, founder Strong Bones and Pilates Teacher Mastermind®.

Since every minute counts, we turned to the fitness experts to tell us about all the benefits of a 15-minute workout. Use their advice to get in a full-body workout in a fraction of the time!

Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.

15 minute workout

Can a 15-minute workout be effective?

A 15-minute workout can be effective, but you have to be prepared to maximize every second. "The key is working at the highest intensity level you can maintain without resting longer than a few seconds," explains TJ Mentus, ACE-CPT.

Still not convinced that 15 minutes can be effective? Lippin recommends looking at the bigger picture:"If you do four 15-minute workouts in a week, you'll have exercised for an hour. If you've never exercised, that hour a week is a huge accomplishment."

What is the best 15-minute workout?

There are two schools of thought on what the best way to get in a 15-minute workout is. On one hand, Lippin says that the best workout is the one you enjoy doing.

But when it's the most efficient workout you're after — factoring in time and intensity — you must plan accordingly. For this, Mentus recommends an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workout.

An example of this is a full-body circuit, consisting of 10 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 lunges and 10 sit-ups, with the goal being to complete as many rounds as you can in 15 minutes.

"By switching muscle groups, it will help to prevent muscle failure by allowing one group to recover while the other is working," Mentus says.

Make sure that the pace you start at is something that can be maintained, especially if you're new to working out.

"It's better to start a little slower and speed up than to start too fast and have to take big rest breaks," Mentus says.

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How can I get fit in 15 minutes?

If you want to get fit in 15 minutes, be prepared to put in the work. (And, you'll have to incorporate longer workouts, too.)

"A light 15-minute jog, for instance, will probably not do much to change your physical fitness," says Mentus. "But trying to run as far as you can each day in 15 minutes will push your heart and lungs and legs to get stronger to perform better."

If done consistently and at all different levels of intensity, the body can adapt and become fit, adds Sergio Pedemonte, certified personal trainer at Your House Fitness.

Can I build strength in 15 minutes?

While building strength in 15 minutes is tougher than improving conditioning, it is possible. You may have already seen it happen in your own fitness journey with different exercises, such as a plank.

"Typically, you can start one week at 15 seconds, then move to the next day or week to 20, and so on and so forth," says Pedemonte. He explains that strain in the muscles allows the body to tear muscle fibers, recover and build more fibers in the muscle.

"That's why we feel sore on one day, and then on the other, it's gone," Pedemonte tells Lively.

If you're lifting weights (one of the pillars to building strength), Mentus says you must lift heavy. But since doing so takes it longer to warm up and requires longer rest periods to recover from sets, he recommends what's called EMOM (Every Minute On The Minute).

"At the start of each minute, you do [a set] amount of reps then rest until the start of the next minute," Mentus explains. "If strength is the goal, then you would do no more than 3-5 reps. I would pick a weight that you could do for 6-8 reps and try to do it for as many minutes as you can."

Any exercise for this works, but to build strength, he recommends the bigger compound movements such as squat, deadlift or bench press.

Try This 15-Minute Bodyweight Workout

No equipment? No problem. This workout by Pedemonte will help build strength in just 15 minutes.

15 minute workout

How to do it: Perform 8 to 12 reps of each exercise, with no rest in between. Rest for 30 seconds at the end of each round. Complete the circuit 2 to 3 times.

Push-Up To Downward Dog
Start in a high plank position, with shoulders stacked directly over wrists. Bend elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Keeping your core engaged and hips in line with the rest of your body, exhale, and push back up to the starting position. Then, push hips up and back as far as you can while pushing your palms forward and tucking the head into a downward dog position. Pause, then return back to starting position. That's one rep. Repeat.

Single-Leg Deadlift With Knee Raise
Start standing with feet hip-width apart, arms at sides. Shift weight to left leg, hinge forward from the hips, allow left knee to bend slightly, and lower torso to the floor, as right leg lifts behind you. Hinge forward as far as comfortably possible while maintaining a straight back. Return to starting position without resting right leg on the ground and drive left knee up to perform a knee raise. Return to starting position and repeat.

To make it easier, you can perform a one-legged jump.

Squat To Shoulder Press
Stand with feet hips-width apart. Initiate the movement by sending the hips back as if you’re sitting back into a chair. Bend knees to lower down as far as possible with chest lifted in a controlled movement. Keep lower back neutral. Press through heels to stand back up to starting position. As you're standing back up, press arms overhead. Then, return to starting position. Repeat.

To make the move more challenging, add weight such as dumbbells or cans.

Plank To Cobra
Start in a high plank position, with hands under shoulders, core engaged. Hold, then bring hips toward the floor, chest elevated and shoulders away from ears. Pause, then return to starting position.

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