Workouts last an hour. Everyone knows that. Duh. Well what if I told you they didn’t have to? Too many workouts are missed because we tell ourselves we need an hour or more at the gym. There are lots of benefits to short workouts and plenty of reasons for you to squeeze in a workout quickie when the opportunity presents itself.
1.) Extra Sets Reap Diminishing Returns
When you head into the gym you don’t have to perform upwards of 5 sets of a given exercise. Even if you’re only working low rep ranges for strength.
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that single set training still elicits significant strength and hypertrophy gains.
Bodybuilders Mike Mentzer and Casey Viator were also both big proponents of training with only 1 or 2 work sets in their training. I’ll let you be the one to argue the effectiveness with Mike Mentzer.
2.) Interval Training is great for fat loss and conditioning
Some people love that long slow cardio stuff and other people hate it. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be just one way.
High intensity interval training has been shown to produce great improvements in cardiovascular fitness and fat loss even though it requires way less total time exercising than lower intensity steady state cardio.
You can quickly get into a gym and start cranking out some intervals on any old spin bike or you can take your interval training outside. Run some stairs, swing a kettlebell, or do some bodyweight circuits for time. 20-30 minutes goes a long way with interval training.
3.) Something is better than nothing. Consistency trumps everything.
If shorter workouts seem more doable, you’ll be more likely to show up more regularly.Give yourself a fist bump for being consistent!
Celebrating your process goals like showing up consistently will only help reinforce your exercise habits. Showing up is the hardest part. Make it something too easy to pass up. You can do more if you decide to after you get started with “just a quick, quick workout”.
4.) Focus on what’s most important
If you’ve only got twenty minutes to exercise, you’ve got less time to chit chat with your neighbor about their cute cat photos and the recent memes. That means you also may not waste your time warming up and doing endless crunches.
When you’ve gotta get in and get out, you make a bigger impact with your time by focussing on the most important things like pullups and squats.
If there’s a smaller exercise that’s you feel is important to include, you can use it as an active recovery movement between your other high value exercises.
5.) Less added stress and better recovery.
If you’re not performing as many sets and reps you’ll be able to recover quicker and more easily. This may be just what you need if you find you’ve already got a lot of other stressors in your life.
Maybe your boss is being a pain the butt or you’re arguing with your special lady or man friend. A quick workout may be just the ticket to blow off a little steam, but getting done early means you can also focus on getting some sleep.
However, you choose to get a quick workout in making sure you’re still able to recover and refuel is vital to making continued progress. The shorter workout might just mean you’ve got a little more in the tank for the next one.
6.) Now you have time.
Everyone is busy. The ability to make time is one of the number one reasons people state that they don’t exercise.
Once you accept that even 5 to 10 minutes of exercise is better than no exercise, you can start creating more opportunities for exercise throughout your day.
There’s no rule stating you’ve gotta do all your exercise in one set period of the day. You can make time in small chunks all throughout the day. You can start with some air squats and planks earlier in the day. Then round it out with some push ups in the evening.
Everyone will think your guns look great in the evening when you’re done with work ;-)
7.) It’s a brain booster.
Exercise helps improve creativity, productivity and learning. Short workouts are great ways to increase your brain power.
Even 20-30 minute walks have been shown to improve mood and creativity. Short bouts of more vigorous exercise has been shown to increase learning and focus. While just about all small bouts of activity seem to increase productivity.
Get up and take a break for exercise. You deserve it, and it may just help you be a smarter, nicer, more productive person.
8.) Easier on the joints.
Reduced training volume will result in less stress on joints like your elbows and knees. Sometimes it’s nice just to make sure we’re feeling good.
Jumping rope for 10 minutes has been shown to burn a similar amount of calories to 30 minutes running. All while landing on two feet instead of two so you have less overall impact on your joints.
Additionally, in the weight room getting less overall sets in a workout is like a small deload for your body. This can keep you from getting cranky elbows and other joints.
9.) More time for food prep.
There’s no way you’ll be as lean as you’d like if you just eat frozen pizzas and junk after your workouts.
Not spending hours at a time in the gym frees up some additional time to focus on your nutrition and eating. You could get your grocery shopping done or prep some meals for the next couple of days.
You really can’t out train your bad eating habits so this is a huge win for getting the most out of your efforts in the gym.
Quick Workouts Matter
However you choose to fit your training and exercise into your busy schedule doesn't necessarily matter. What matters is that you find a way to make it work for you. It all adds up and it all counts. Staying consistent is key to continued progress, not some arbitrary time limit we place on gym sessions.
You can probably think of several more reasons why short workouts are advantageous. If you've got a short workout trick that helps you fit in more throughout the day or stay consistent share it in the comments below. Gotta short routine you'd like to share? Shoot it to us in an email and we may post it on the Quick Workouts Collection here as well.