Maximize your workout when short on time

Don’t have much time to exercise? There’s a common misconception that hitting the gym for hours is the only effective way to exercise. You can get a good workout when short on time.

person walking on treadmill for workout

If you only have 30, 20 or even 10 minutes to break a sweat because you are short on time, that is enough time.

Whether you’re trying to squeeze in a quick workout or can’t imagine spending an hour on the treadmill, here’s how to optimize your workout routine when you’re pressed for time. 

Focus on high-impact, multipurpose moves


A plank is one exercise that works everything. There are so many good variations you can do—lift your legs, lift your arms, dip your hips or simply hold it.

Jump rope

woman jumping rope

You can get a killer workout in only 10 minutes with just a jump rope. Try one minute on and one minute off to turn it into a HIIT workout. Try this quick jump rope workout as one way to get it done quickly.

Jumping Jacks

woman jumping jacks outside

Similar to using a jump rope, try jumping jacks with one minute on and one minute off. You also can turn on some music and jump to about three songs, which should be about 10 minutes.

Maximize your workout time

On days when you’re in a rush, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great option. Research suggests that a 10-minute workout with 1 minute of intense exercise, like a sprint, may have the same health benefits as a 50-minute workout at a moderate pace.

HIIT consists of alternating between intense moves and easier moves (or complete rest) for short time intervals. Because the moves are so intense, a typical HIIT workout will take only 10-30 minutes.

3 treadmill HIIT workouts

While there are many ways to get in a HIIT workout (bodyweight intervals, Tabata, Boot Camp-style workouts, spin class, etc.), many may not think of using the treadmill for this type of workout.

Run-sprint-walk intervals

  • Run or jog at a comfortable pace for 3 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 1 minute
  • Run or jog again for 3 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 1 minute

Jump Rope HIIT

For this HIIT jump rope workout routine, you’ll spend 30 seconds jumping at a high intensity (skipping as fast as you can), with 30 to 60 seconds of rest.

You can switch up your jumping style on the high-intensity phase, sticking to regular jumps or high knees.

For example:

  • 30 seconds all-out jumping; perform as many reps as possible.
  • 30 to 60 seconds of light jogging or walking on the treadmill
  • Repeat circuit 10 times.

The sprinting workout

This workout is all about 60-second sprints followed by 60 seconds of walking:

  • Warm-up for 5 minutes with a brisk walk
  • Walk for 1 minute (3-4 MPH)
  • Sprint for 1 minute (8-9 MPH)
  • Repeat the intervals 6 to 10 times
  • Cool down with 5 minutes of light jogging or a brisk walk

A lot of treadmill users do steady-state cardio by walking or jogging at the same speed setting. While those can be good, it’s good to mix it up to keep the body guessing.

Regardless of what workout you do, make sure you:

Let go of the handrails on the treadmill

A common mistake many treadmill users make is holding on to the handrails or the top of the machine when walking on a steep incline.

Try to pump your arms as you move to make your workout more efficient. If you need to lower the incline so you can let go of the machine until you get stronger.

Push yourself

You want to push yourself, but not so hard that you injure yourself. You can always adjust the speed andincline to be at a level that works for you.

Use your arms

Your arms are the key to a great walking workout. Pumping your arms can help you go faster and burn more calories. You can help correct some of the shoulder and neck problems you may be developing sitting in front of a computer or TV all day.


The treadmill is one of the most popular ways to get cardio exercise because it is convenient and it eliminates excuses about walking outdoors in hot, cold, or wet weather.

What’s your go to workout when you are short on time?

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