We all face limitations or challenges in establishing a regular workout routine. Between juggling work, family, friends, and more fitness can fall on the backburner.
If you’re feeling busy, don’t give up! Say hello to mini workouts. Short, mini workout sessions throughout the day can provide flexibility in your daily schedule, make it easier to stick to your workout routine, and allow you to experience the many benefits of regular exercise.
What Are Mini Workouts?
Mini workouts or micro workouts are just like regular workouts. Mini workouts are just workouts completed in small time increments like 5-10 minutes to make it easier to stick to your exercise routine and experience the benefits of exercise.
Are Short Workouts Effective?
First, let’s define what makes an exercise routine effective. The CDC recommends adults aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise - 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise - a week(1). They also stress the importance of strength training at least two times a week focusing on hitting all major muscle groups with compound, full body movements.
While many people achieve these recommendations by completing one longer workout session a day you can also break up the time into several mini workouts to achieve the same benefits and obtain your weekly minutes.
According to research, performing your weekly physical activity in bouts of 10 minutes or less can be just as effective as exercise completed in a longer format(2,3).
Benefits of Mini Workouts
There are many benefits to completing mini workouts, here are some of the benefits you can expect to experience with accumulated exercise.
Help You Reach Your Health Goals
A review of 19 studies concluded that accumulated short bouts of exercise throughout the day result in similar effects on a range of health-related benefits of a regular exercise routine.
According to the review, similar health benefits to blood pressure, cardiorespiratory health, blood fat, insulin, and glucose levels between accumulated and continuous exercise(4).
Easier to Fit into the Day
Let’s be real here, finding 45 minutes to an hour to ourselves throughout the day can be a challenge. But research shows we don’t have to let that challenge derail us from making progress.
5-10 minutes is easy to squeeze in throughout the day. You don’t even need to change to go on a quick walk around the block or to perform some strength exercises next to your desk. Make it practical, make it quick, and make it work for you.
We have many stressors that may take our attention throughout the day. Between family drama, kids, and work demands it never seems to stop. Exercising can improve your mental health and is a great way to naturally decrease your stress.
Do you need a mood boost? One of the major benefits of working out is the chemicals released in your brain during a workout called endorphins. Endorphins cause natural energy and mood-boosting high that makes you feel great after a workout!
Boost Self Confidence
When you continually don’t make time to take care of yourself whether, through exercise or other self-care methods, feelings of laziness, doubt, and regret can start to creep in. When you exercise - even in small bouts - you regain that sense of confidence and pride in yourself, which in turn encourages you to continue the healthy habit of exercise.
Establish Sustainable Habits
Finally, adding in mini workouts throughout the day can help you establish the healthy habit of taking care of yourself when and however you can. Mini workouts take excuses out of the equation and make exercising practical again! Who knows, mini workouts could become a habit that positively influences your life for years to come.
Drawbacks of Mini Workouts
When it comes to mini workouts, it’s important to remember the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks. It’s important to remember that making fitness a regular habit is the end goal - no matter how you do so. With that in mind, here are a few drawbacks of shorter workouts.
Need to Add in Proper Warmups/Cooldowns
It’s important to complete a proper warm-up and cool down for each workout you complete, whether it’s a mini workout or a full-length workout. Warmups and cooldowns are important for reducing your risk of injury, preparing your body for top performance during a workout, and promoting longevity in your routine.
If your mini workout is at a moderate to vigorous intensity (which it likely should be if you’re looking to see some tangible benefits from your exercise routine) then it’s important to complete a warmup before your mini workout and a cooldown after your workout. If you’re completing more than one mini workout a day, that time can add up.
Not the Best for Endurance Training
Keep in mind that with true endurance training, you’re training to keep your body at an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time. While mini workouts may contribute to an increase in endurance, longer sessions will help to build your endurance faster and longer. If endurance is your training goal, I encourage you to consider adding a longer workout into your schedule at least once or twice a week for better results.
Should Your Mini Workouts Include HIIT Training?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a widely popular form of exercise that can be done in a short period of time with touted big results. HIIT involves working for short bursts of vigorous-intensity work alternated with short periods of rest.
This style of training can lead to big performance gains and has the calorie-burning potential and aerobic benefit one might expect to experience from a much longer workout. So, if you’re looking to see results from your shorter sessions, micro HIIT workouts could be a good way to go.
Again, keep in mind, with a vigorous intensity workout like this, it’s important to complete a full warmup so your body is prepared to perform its best, and handle the hard work ahead.
10 Mini Workout Routines to Try
Get ready to move, all you have to do is press play! I’ve curated a list of 10 of our most popular workouts that are 10 minutes or less. There’s a wide variety of workouts listed with everything from low intensity to high intensity, easy to challenging. Listen to your body and choose a routine that sounds right for you today.
1. 10-Minute Daily Mobility Routine
Every day is different. Somedays our bodies are ready for intense movement, and others they’re a bit achy, tired, and in need of some TLC. Save this mobility class for days you’re feeling more like the latter, and honor how your body is feeling with this gentle, feel-good, mobility workout with Sunny Trainer Alexa!
2. 5-Minute Workout to Target Abs & Obliques
Target your abs and build core strength with this quick core series packed with beginner exercises to target your abs and obliques. Follow along with Sunny Trainer Sydney as she leads you through each exercise, giving tips for good form and how to modify exercises if needed!
3. 10-Minute HIIT Express Elliptical Workout
If you're thinking 10 minutes isn't enough time to squeeze in a workout, then this 10 Min All Out Pyramid HIIT Elliptical Workout will change your mind! Hop on your elliptical or cardio climber and follow along with Sunny Trainer Brittany as she guides you through constantly changing intervals designed to push your body to the max burning big calories along the way!
4. 10-Minute Core & Cardio Row-N-Ride® Workout
Fix up your Row-N-Ride® workout with this 10 Min Core & Cardio routine! Join Sunny trainer Sydney in this workout that combines HIIT sprints, with core work to tighten and tone your body and burn lots of calories. This workout is great for beginners! If you’re more advanced, simply add on more resistance bands to make this work out even more challenging!
5. 10-Minute HIIT Cycling Sprints Workout
Only a few minutes to work out today? Well, make the most of your minutes, with this 10-Minute Indoor Cycling Sprints workout with Sunny Trainer Annelisa. Annelisa will have you moving and grooving on the bike in this energizing ride that will have you excited to work your hardest for just 10 minutes.
6. 10-Minute Power Stepper Workout
Are you new to mini stepping and ready to get started? This beginner mini stepper workout is everything you need to start your fitness journey off on the right foot. Sunny Trainer Sydney will teach you the basics of mini stepping from form to classic moves you’ll see in your mini stepper classes and get your heart pumping while you’re at it!
7. 10-Minute All Out HIIT Treadmill Workout
Sprint along with our newest Sunny Trainer, Sam Candler, for this intense All-Out 10-Minute HIIT Treadmill Work out! It may be quick, but this HIIT workout is not easy. Try it as a burnout at the end of your next run or do it as a standalone workout – either way, you’re in for a crazy good workout in just 10 minutes!
8. 10-Minute Study/Work Break Workout
In a study slump? Get up and get moving with this 10-minute feel-good study break workout. This workout is upbeat and fun, designed to get your heart pumping with light movement and stretch out those tight muscles, so you can head back to your desk refreshed and ready to focus!
9. 10-Minute Express Rowing Sprints Workout
Rowers, come join Sunny Trainer Sofee for 10 minutes of sweaty all-out rowing. If you only have a few minutes to sweat, make this quick workout your go-to!
10. 10-Minute Stability Ball EMOM Workout
Have a stability ball at home collecting dust? Exercise balls - also known as stability balls, balance balls, or swiss balls - are not only fun, but they’re also a great way to add variety to your fitness routine, and challenge and improve your strength and stability! Join in the fun with Sunny Trainer Dom for this challenging routine that will fire up your abs, obliques, glutes, and hamstrings.
We’re all busy, but we know fitting in a regular fitness routine is important. Rest easy knowing the time that you can put towards your fitness counts and helps you to reap the amazing physical and mental benefits of exercise!
If you’re finding it challenging to get into or stick to a regular fitness routine, I hope you’ll give mini workouts a try. Who knows, with a few mini workouts here and there you might just develop a regular habit of exercise.
(1) “How much physical activity do adults need?” Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm Accessed 3 February, 2022
(2) “Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity and All Cause Mortality: Do Bouts Matter?” Journal of the American Heart Association, 2018. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.117.007678 Accessed 3 February, 2022
(3) “Effects of long versus short bout exercise on fitness and weight loss in overweight females”, 2001. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11601564/ Accessed 3 February, 2022
(4) “The Effects of Continuous Compared to Accumulated Exercise on Health: A Meta-Analytic Review”, 2019. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31267483/ Accessed 3 February, 2022