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Mini Workouts

6 months ago / by Pratika Yashaswi

They may be short, but, done right, they can do as much good as regular gym sessions


Some people are so passionate and disciplined about fitness that they head for the gym, yoga mat or running path every day without fail, and exercise for an hour or more. But that’s not all of us, certainly not this writer.

For those of us who positively hate perspiration, side stitches, and discomfort, just starting out and keeping up with an exercise routine can be one of the hardest things ever. Yeah, sure, endorphins are great, but they’re often not compelling enough reasons for the lazy (or busy) to make the time in the mornings. But exercise is necessary, and we have to, so how can we dredge up the motivation to do so?

The solution lies in small, achievable goals. One of the best ways to do this is through mini workouts.

Mini workouts, otherwise known as intermittent exercise, involves working out in short bursts throughout the day. These bursts are usually about 10 minutes or less. Instead of exercising for 30 minutes at a stretch, you can exercise three times a day, 10 ten minutes each. Ten minutes of exercise is an incredibly achievable, approachable, and accessible goal, easy to squeeze into the busiest of schedules. Having such a goal can reduce feelings of stress and guilt and boost your motivation to work out.

Research shows that there is little to no difference in mini workouts done throughout the day and regular workouts. According to a study on sedentary adults published in the British Medical Journal measuring outcomes such as resting blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels; “Accumulated moderate intensity exercise bouts of <10 min confer similar-to-better cardiovascular improvements compared with current recommendations among sedentary adults.” Further, the CDC’s exercise guidelines for Americans revolve around the amount of time one should exercise in a week, and make no mention of a minimum duration for each workout.

If this sounds good to you, here are some workout formats that lend themselves well to mini workouts and ways you can implement them into your daily exercise routine. Use one, or mix them all up to keep you interested in your exercise routine.


Tabata is a type of high intensity interval training (HIIT) from Japan and initially designed for Olympic speed skaters. Commonly using bodyweight exercises, it follows a 20:10 format repeated for the duration of the workout – 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This workout can be as short as four minutes and as long as 25. Some say Tabata is meant for people of intermediate fitness levels, but there are elementary versions anyone can do.

Surya Namaskars

Surya namaskars or sun salutations are a series of yoga asanas repeated continually. It is a beautiful exercise that works out almost every muscle group in your body – your arms, legs, and even abs – in 12 poses. Each round takes no more than a minute, and you can go as fast or slow as you like. It makes for a fantastic 10-minute workout to start your mornings. You can explore variations as you advance in the practice, and do moon salutations (Chandra Namaskars), for a twist.

Here’s a video of how to do Surya namaskars:

7-Minute Workout

The 7-minute workout was developed as a series of 12 bodyweight exercises by the American College of Sports Medicine. According to one study, participants who did this seven-minute exercise seven days a week for six weeks saw waist circumference decrease between weeks 1 and 3. Note, however, that the best results come when this exercise is repeated about two to three times a day to meet your daily exercise needs.

Here’s a Lifehack video that takes you through the 7-minute workout:

Make the Most of the Mini Workouts

To implement mini workouts throughout your day, make the most of each session for the best results. Incorporate light weights and, as you get better and better, try resistance bands too. These increase the intensity of your training and give you maximum bang for your time. Go for bodyweight exercises because they can be done anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to go to the gym for these. The most important factor in the sustainability of an exercise routine is fun. So pick an exercise you have fun with and watch your body grow stronger and fitter.