By Jessica Migala; photograph by Travys Owen
Do micro workouts really have macro rewards?
Five- or 10-minute “micro” workouts are hot right now and they promise to get you fit in less time, no gym required. But is a sweat sesh that short really worth it?
That’s a resounding yes, says Lauren Stobbie, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. “Science has shown that doing mini-workouts throughout the day are just as effective as one long workout. You can gain muscle, boost your metabolism and lose weight,” she says.
Sold! But depending on your goals, there are different strategies for incorporating micro-workouts into your routine, says Stobbie. Here’s what you need to know:
If your goal is to improve your health:
Do three mini-workouts, spread throughout the day. Rather than hoping those opportunities will slap you in the face, identify when you’ll have time, like before work, at lunch and in the evening while watching TV. Then stick to it.
If your goal is to lose weight:
Add a mini-burn at the end of your normal elliptical or treadmill workout to boost the number of kilojoules you’re torching.
If your goal is to gain muscle:
Tack it on to the end of your strength-training and focus on the same muscle groups you were working.
Since it’s all too easy to half-ass a micro-workout, you’re going to want to make the most of your speedy sweat sessions:
Ramp up intensity. “If you’re only working out for five minutes at a time, you want to make the most of that time,” says Stobbie. That means going HAM. “If you didn’t break a sweat and aren’t having a hard time catching your breath at the end, you need to up the intensity next time,” she says. This helps you burn more kilojoules and stresses muscles enough to trigger strength gains.
Maintain form. Just because you’re gunning for intensity and speed doesn’t mean you should let your form break. Think about the proper technique during every rep.
Do it no matter what. If you have absolutely no time that day, squeeze in one five-minute workout. “It’s better than nothing,” says Stobbie.
Give it a try:
Stobbie created these two mini-workouts for you to try at home. They’re great examples of how you can break up the time. For instance, you can do one move per minute or set up a ladder workout (like the fat-burner below) and challenge yourself to complete it in five or 10 minutes.