Alexa Miller/FITNESS MagazineBy Jenna Autuori-Dedic
Minis are in! "Shorter, harder workouts may actually be better for revving your metabolism than longer sessions," says trainer Jessica Smith, a co-author of The Thin in 10 Weight-Loss Plan. "You'll continue to burn calories at a higher rate long after you're done exercising." Here's how to maximize the minutes you think you don't have.
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How to Do It
Split it up. Instead of a 40-minute slog, think of your daily cardio as four 10-minute sessions or two 20-minute workouts. "You net the benefits no matter when you get it done," Smith says.
Move before you make excuses. "Bang out a routine right after you wake up," Smith says. Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier than usual; not only will you not notice the missed sleep, but you'll also get an energy buzz from the exercise.
Push yourself. When your workout is short -- 20 minutes or less -- "going all out is much more doable, and that's what will really make your cardio count," Smith says.
The Plan: Got only 5 minutes?
Follow this do-anywhere Tabata routine from Jessica Smith. To make timing it a cinch, use the Tabata Pro app ($3, iTunes) or the pocket-size Gymboss ($20, gymboss.com) interval timer.
Squat jumps for 20 seconds; then march in place for 10 seconds. Repeat.
|1:30-2:30||Mountain climbers for 20 seconds; then march in place for 10 seconds. Repeat.|
|2:30-3:30||Burpees for 20 seconds (squat, place palms on floor and jump feet back into full plank; do a push-up, then jump feet back in and jump up with arms overhead); then march in place for 10 seconds. Repeat.|
|3:30-4:30||Alternating jump lunges (lunge back with right leg and jump, switching legs to land in lunge with right foot forward) for 20 seconds; then march in place for 10 seconds. Repeat.|
|4:30-5:00||March in place.|
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The Plan: Got 10 minutes?
Do this kick-butt stair workout. "Compound moves that use your glutes -- the biggest muscle in your body -- burn more calories," Smith says. Complete the circuit twice.
|0:00-1:00||Step-ups (Step up and down on bottom step of a staircase.)|
|1:00-2:00||Side-step squats (Stand with right side facing stairs, place right foot on bottom step and lower into squat; return to start. Do for 30 seconds; switch sides and repeat.)|
Knee tucks (Facing stairs, place right foot on bottom step, right knee slightly bent. Lift left knee toward chest as you bend elbows by sides; lower to start. Do for 30 seconds; switch sides and repeat.)
Step hops (Facing stairs, place right foot on bottom step and jump up, extending arms overhead and lifting left knee toward chest. Return to start. Do for 30 seconds; switch sides and repeat.)
|4:00-5:00||Liftoffs (Facing stairs with hands on hips, place right foot on bottom step; lunge back with left leg, then stand up on right leg, raising left leg behind you. Return to lunge. Do for 30 seconds; switch sides and repeat.)|
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The Plan: Got 20 minutes?
"This high-intensity walk-run session burns about 10 calories per minute," Smith says.
|0:00-2:00||Walk at a slow-to-moderate pace.|
|5:00-17:00||Sprint for 1 minute, then walk or jog for 2 minutes. Repeat combo 4 times total.|
Walk at a slow-to-moderate pace.
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