If you only have a short window of time to get a sweat in, don't make the mistake of thinking it's not worth it to lace up your sneakers at all. In fact, if you're looking to build and improve muscle definition, sticking to just a 15-minute routine can help get you the results you're looking for. "When it comes to fitness, consistency and intention are everything," Melissa Boyd, a NASM-certified personal trainer and head trainer at Tempo, told POPSUGAR.
"It may seem like 15 minutes isn't a lot of time, but building a regular habit of strength training (even in a bite-size amount) can have huge benefits to your overall wellness." And as long as you're making those minutes matter (i.e. you're practicing perfect form and really focusing on squeezing those muscle groups you're working for every rep), a shorter workout can be equally as effective as a longer strength-training session where you may not be fully in the zone. Here's how to strength-train smart, so that 15 minutes gets the job done.
What Exercises Should I Be Doing If I Only Have 15 Minutes?
"If you only have a little bit of time to get your workout in, it's important to focus on moves that pack a punch," Boyd said. "Compound exercises will help you build muscular strength while working your heart and lungs." Start with five compound exercises, doing each move for one minute and repeating the entire circuit three times.
Begin with fundamental exercises like squats, push-ups, deadlifts, triceps dips, and lunges. Start with just using your bodyweight, and as you progress over time, incorporate dumbbells if you have access to them. Once you've mastered the basics, try these at-home strength training exercises to keep your muscles guessing (and growing!).
Do I Need to Work Out Every Day For 15 Minutes to See Results?
Boyd recommended starting out by sticking to four to five days a week to allow your body to properly recover. "As you build strength and energy, try adding a second 15-minute session to your day when you have time," she added. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't do any movement on your rest days. Active recovery days will help your muscles repair themselves while helping you stay conditioned for your next workout.
Do I Need Any Equipment For a 15-Minute Workout?
While dumbbells or resistance bands will certainly increase the challenge of your workout, they aren't necessary if you don't have them. (Check out the best no equipment 15-minute routines here.) "I'm a huge proponent for using your bodyweight for at-home workouts," Boyd said. "No matter how you choose to do it, strength work helps you manage your weight by increasing your resting metabolic rate, helps your focus and mood, boosts brainpower, and keeps your skeletal system strong."
Just keep in mind that 15 minutes can help you increase and maintain muscle strength, but if you're looking to lose weight in the process, you'll need to tack on more time to your workout. Building up to a 30-minute routine (preferably with weights) in addition to regular cardio during the week can help you achieve this. If you don't have time for one 30-minute window, use Melissa's trick and break up your session into two 15-minute quickies for those days when time just isn't on your side.