A 10 Minute Workout for Busy Mornings

The luxury of a trip to the gym or an hour-long run in the morning isn’t something that everybody can afford - or has the time for. After all, some of us have to get up before dawn or drive long distances to work.

Abridging your workout routine allows you to get that morning kick of energy for physical and mental clarity, even when you don’t always have the time. Now, it’s important to state that it won’t ever be able to replace a full workout regime - no matter how hard you push yourself, you’ll plateau - but it’s designed with intensity in mind rather than duration.

The theory behind the ten minute workout is simple. Exercise fiercely, getting your heart-rate up close to 90% of your maximum, for the entire duration. You’ll burn bright and fast, and according to researchers at McMaster University, even as much as a single minute of workout is enough to promote an increase in skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and improved markers of health status.

It’s especially effective for obesity and those new to the world of fitness, and you’ll be able to feel its benefits throughout the day as you burn more calories while resting through your skyrocketed metabolism.

To that end, we’ve put together a collection of lightning-fast workout routines from a range of industry professionals, for the workout-on-the-go.

10 minute purely cardio workout

This first one is pure adrenaline. It’s great as a way to kick-start a day with about as much force as an electrified ice bucket of coffee.

The stop/start bursts are enough to start the burn early on, and by the end you might feel a little jelly-legged, at least the first few times.

You can also feel free to pair this with a longer workout that’s a little cardio-light, as it’s a great way to burn off the last vestiges of energy and come down from a weights session. You can do this on an exercise bike or on your own legs, depending on your circumstances.

  • Warm up with a two minute jog or bike ride. Don’t exert yourself too much here, just concentrate on warming up. Even in a compressed workout, the benefits of warming up and cooling off outweigh the lost time.
  • Sprint as hard as possible for 20 seconds and then rest for 2 minutes.
  • Sprint again for another 20 seconds then take another 2 minute break.
  • Take one final 20 second sprint followed by another 2 minutes rest.
  • Cool down by returning to your former jogging/riding pace for three minutes.

10 minute purely strength workout

This intensive strength workout comes directly from Ben Greenfield, fitness expert at the Huffington Post. It’s designed to rotate a full bodyweight workout in the minimum time possible. Again, it’s a short three-set deal, but there’s no time for downtime now.

  • Warm up with 50 jumping jacks.
  • Do 15 body-weight squats.
  • Follow this by 15 push-ups.
  • Do 30 reverse lunges (15 per side).
  • End with 15 dips.
  • Repeat another two times.

10 minute combined workout

For most people, a quick workout in the morning will be better off as a combined strength and cardio routine. This’ll give you the best of both worlds, especially since the entire point of the exercise is to use it in short, sharp bursts; being able to cover more areas means that you’ll be promoting growth all over.

This is a short, 2-minute workout designed to be repeated 5 times over for maximum efficiency. Rather simple:

  • Do 10 push-ups.
  • Follow with 10 medicine ball slams.
  • End with 120 metres on a rowing machine.

You’re going to be breaking out the weights for this next one, so go at your own pace. You should be aiming for good form, but enough to really be pushing by the end.

  • Start with 30 seconds of burpee pull ups to get the blood flowing.
  • Do 30 seconds of squats.
  • Continue this cycle (burpees and squats) for 4 minutes (4 total sets).
  • Rest for 1 minute.
  • Do 30 seconds front squad push presses.
  • Follow with 30 seconds of box jumps.
  • Repeat the front squad push presses into box jumps another 3 times (4 sets in total).

These routines should hopefully be enough to turn a full day - formerly a wasted day for your fitness regime - into a productive stopgap that’ll compress a lot more than 10 minutes of exercise into… just 10 minutes of exercise.

Again, you should be supplementing, not supplanting, your full exercise plan. This workout is for busy days, not every day. For people with a full weekly schedule, it’ll certainly do (after all, something’s better than nothing), but try to get a decent workout in at least a few times, or on the weekends if you’re able.

For those of us without enough time to make it to the gym every day though, it's invaluable in not making every weekday a forced rest day.