Mini Workouts, Major Results

When it comes to sustainable weight loss, you basically have two options: Eat less and exercise less, or eat more and exercise more. Odds are you’ll fall into the second category (me included!).

I know, I know… you’re barely able to carve out 40 or 60 minutes a day to work out as is. But what I’m talking about is doing two 10-minute sweat sessions instead of a single, longer one, so you’ll actually spend less time exercising. And for each of the below sessions, all you need is your bodyweight, so you can do them anytime, anywhere.

Not only are there scheduling advantages of splitting one long workout into smaller, more manageable chunks, but each time you exercise you initiate a series of metabolic events that help your body burn fat and build muscle. If you work out once per day, you’ll trigger those events once. But if you work out two or three times, well, you get the idea — you compound the effect, and ultimately reach your goals faster.

If you’re not sure where to start, try the mini-workouts below. Perform two of the workouts each day — one in the morning, and one in the afternoon or evening — and warm up with two minutes of jumping rope or jumping jacks before you begin. If you find any move too difficult, do the “modifier” exercise instead. Keep boredom at bay by mixing up the routines you do each day!

Mini Workouts - Major Results

WORKOUT A

Perform the exercises as a superset (one superset equals one set of each move back-to-back). Do as many supersets as you can in 5 minutes without rest. Start with 20 reps of the wideout drop and 10 reps of the judo push-up. In each successive superset, do two fewer reps of the wideout drop, and one fewer rep of the judo push-up. So in your second superset, you’ll do 18 wideout drops and nine judo push-ups. In your third set you’ll do 16 wideout drops and eight judo push-ups. You get the idea. Try to go all the way to zero reps of both exercises before your five minutes are up. If you do, begin working your way back up the sequence.

Purpose: Building explosive power in the legs and strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps

Wideout Drop
Stand with your legs together, elbows by your sides, and hands together in front of your chest. Jump your feet out to your sides and drop into a wide squat, extending your arms straight out in front of your chest. Spring back up to the starting position, and then begin your next rep without pausing.

Modifier: Bodyweight squat (perform each rep quickly, exploding up from the bottom position, but don’t jump).

Judo Push-Up
Begin in a push-up position but move your feet hip-width apart, and raise your hips so your body forms an upside-down V. Lower the front of your body with your arms until your chin nears the floor, and then swoop your head and shoulders upward while lowering your hips until they almost touch the floor (you should end in an “upward dog” position). Reverse the move to return to the starting position.

Modifier: Standard push-up.

WORKOUT B

Perform the exercises as a superset (one superset equals one set of each move back-to-back). Do as many supersets as you can in 5 minutes without rest. Start with 20 reps of the split jump and 10 reps of the explosive push-up. In each successive superset, do 2 fewer reps of the split jump, and one fewer rep of the push-up. Try to get all the way to zero reps of both exercises before your time is up. If you do, begin working your way back up the sequence.

Purpose: Building explosive power in both the upper and lower body.

Split Jump
Assume a staggered stance with your left foot forward. Lower your body into a lunge, and then jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor. Land with your right leg forward. That’s one rep. Alternate legs each rep.

Modifier: Split squat (perform each rep quickly, exploding up from the bottom position, but don’t jump).

Explosive Push-Up
Assume a push-up position with your arms straight, body rigid, and hands slightly wider than and in line with your shoulders. Keeping your elbows tucked, lower your chest until it’s a few inches from the floor. Push up with enough force for your hands to leave the ground. Land softly and repeat. Extra points if you add a clap.

Modifier: Standard push-up (push off the floor forcefully, but don’t let your hands leave it).

WORKOUT C

Perform as many reps as you can of the superman walkout push-up in two and a half minutes. Repeat with the reverse lunge. Don’t rest between exercises. Each time you do this workout, try to perform more reps of each exercise in the allotted time.

Purpose: Building strength and boosting muscular endurance in the chest, shoulders, lats, triceps, and legs.

Superman Walkout Push-Up
Get down on all fours and raise your hips so that your body forms an inverted V. Walk your hands forward until you’re in a push-up position, and do a push-up. Continue to walk your hands forward until your arms are stretched above your head (like you’re Superman), and hold for one to two seconds (you’ll feel an intense contraction in your lats and abs). Walk your hands back to a push-up position, do a push-up, and then return to the inverted V position. That entire sequence is one rep.

Modifier: Walkout push-up (follow the directions above, but don’t go past the push-up position).

Reverse Lunge
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your fingers interlocked behind your head. Keeping your torso upright, step backward with your left foot and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees and your rear knee almost touches the ground. Pause, and then push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat, this time stepping back with your right leg. Alternate legs each rep.

Modifier: Forward lunge.

Workout D

Perform the following exercises as a superset (one superset equals one set of each move back-to-back). Begin by holding the indicated position of each exercise for five seconds, and then doing five full reps. In each successive superset, hold for one less second, and do one fewer rep of each exercise. Continue counting down until you reach zero seconds and zero reps of both moves. Each week, add one second and one rep to each exercise in the first superset.

Note: There are no modifiers for the exercises in this workout. If you’re not fit enough to perform the moves as described, wait to do this workout until your fitness level increases.

Purpose: Boosting muscle growth and amplifying strength throughout the body.

Split Squat
Assume a staggered stance with your hands on your hips (or fingers interlocked behind your head) and your left foot forward. Lower your body into a lunge until your rear knee is a few inches from the floor and your front knee is bent 90 degrees. Hold for the allotted time, and then begin your full range of motion reps.

Push-Up
Assume a push-up position with your hands in line with and slightly wider than your shoulders. Brace your abs (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut), tense your arms, and press them into the floor and toward each other (imagine you’re trying to push the floor together between them, but don’t actually move them). Hold for the allotted time, and then begin your full range of motion reps.

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