How to get an effective workout in just 15 minutes

We are all chronically time-poor. So the last thing we want to do is spend hours of our precious free time in the gym.

And spending more time working out isn’t always necessarily efficient or effective. Short, sharp workouts can have more of an impact on your overall health goals – as long as you know what you’re doing.

Many personal trainers and even the NHS say that you can get fit with as little as 15 minutes of exercise per day – but if you’re compressing your workouts, you want to make sure they’re as efficient as possible.

David Wiener, training specialist at fitness app Freeletics, has given us his top tips on how to get a brilliant workout in just 15 minutes. Think of all the things you’ll be able to do with all that extra free time…

Plan your workout

One of the best ways to save time when it comes to exercising is to use your time wisely and plan your workouts.

If you arrive at the gym with no plan, you’ll likely waste time thinking about what to do next, and not only does this waste time, it can reduce the quality of your workout.

If you’re unsure where to start, a fitness app can guide you through a full-body workout which is tailored to your individual goals and how long you’re able to spend training.

Minimise distractions

Undoubtedly the best way to make the most out of a short workout is to minimise distractions and focus on the task at hand.

For some, this may mean exercising alone with a motivating playlist, rather than with a friend.

It may mean switching off the notifications on your phone, so you’re not tempted to answer phone calls or reply to texts and emails.

Also, try keeping your rest periods short so you’re not tempted to waste time.


High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, as it’s better known, is the best way to get an effective, quick workout.

Interval training is a great way to increase your fitness levels and calorie burn and it’s performed by alternating intense periods of physical activity with short periods of rest so that your body can recover briefly before you up the intensity again.

Not only is this style of working out a great time saver, its brilliant for building endurance and boosting the metabolism.

Utilise your bodyweight

Bodyweight training is incredibly effective, and one of the beauties of this style of training is that you don’t need any equipment, meaning you’ll spend less time waiting around to use the machines or the free weights.

It’s an incredibly versatile way of training, and you don’t even need to be in the gym.

If you’re really pushed for time you can get a quick, effective full-body workout wherever you are, and whenever works best for you.

Give yourself a time limit

Setting yourself a time limit is a great way to maximise the time you spend in the gym ensuring that you make every second count.

If you find that your workouts are taking too long, set a timer and race against the clock, this will make your workouts faster and more efficient.

Ace your warm-up

Warming up before exercising is very important as it helps to prevent injury and prepare your body for the workout ahead.

A proper warm-up should last between five to ten minutes, but there are clever ways to speed this up and save time.

Start by foam rolling for two-three minutes followed by a quick, dynamic series of mountain climbers, jumping jacks, arm and leg lifts, and hip raises.

Embrace supersets

They may sound scary, but supersets are a great way to save time and get an effective workout.

In simple terms, a superset is when you do two different exercises back to back without taking a break.

Shortening the rest period will also increase the intensity of your workout and doing more movements in a shorter space of time will equate to increased energy expenditure, upping your calorie burn.

Make a back-up plan

There are never any guarantees that the equipment you want to use will be free, so in addition to your planned workout, it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan that you can turn to if the equipment you want to use is busy.

For example, if you’re planning to use the bench press and it’s busy, you could try even weighted push-ups.

Or if the stair masters are a no go you could try doing steps ups.

You could even substitute the treadmill for the cross trainer and vice versa as they offer a similar body mechanical movement.

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