Bonus: You can do them anytime, anywhere, for free. That means you’ve got no excuse to blow off one of the workouts below even if you’re holed up at home, stuck in a hotel, or burning the midnight oil in your office (if you’ve got a door to close, anyway).
9 Workouts Trainers Do When They Only Have 15 Minutes to Sweat
These bodyweight workouts, designed by Rosante and Aaron de Jong, personal trainer and founder of Movement 108 in Vancouver and creator of the app Movr, are all made up of super-effective, minimal moves. And they each take about 20 minutes or less. Do one for a quick workout or combine a couple to get closer to ticking off two goals at once.
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1. Mobility Workout
This workout will leave you loose and moving better, as the exercises address several spots that tend to be tight at once. “Moves and stretches that passively get your body into rotation positively impact every range of motion,” says de Jong. He suggests taking on this routine first thing in the a.m. so you’ll move better and be more aware of your body throughout the rest of the day.
Download the Movr app and go Read the storyhere to see how to do these moves (and the moves in de Jong’s other workouts below) under the “Everyday Minis” tab.
(FYI they’re listed as Men’s Journal Improve Your Mobility, Men’s Journal Bodyweight Sweat, and Men’s Journal Bodyweight Strength in the app.)
- T-Spine Reaches: Lie on your back. Keep right leg straight and pull left knee to chest. Bring left knee across body until it touches the floor, then reach left arm across your body with an inhale, as you exhale and reach back to the right. Repeat 5x each side.
- Around-the-World Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel on right leg with left leg in front of you, foot flat on floor. Get tall through the crown of your head and slide your hips forward and back. Then from start position, shift left foot to 45 degrees to the left, and slide knee over toe. When back to start, slide left foot to 90 degrees from starting point and slide knee over toe. Repeat 5X each side.
- Pike Arch: Start in a plank position. Press hips upward, bending your knees and lengthening your spine. Inhale as you press your chest forward and drop hips to the floor. Repeat 5X. If you’re familiar with yoga – think, downward dog upward dog!
- The World’s Greatest Stretch: Step forward with your left leg, and lower your body into a lunge. As you go down, place your right hand on the floor so it’s even with your left foot. Now move your left elbow inside your left foot, and rest it on the floor. Move your left hand outside your left foot, and twist to reach for the sky.
Do each move in order for 1 minute (1 minute per side for the first two moves), keeping your breathing relaxed throughout. Repeat for 3 sets.
2. Strength-Building Workout
The key to amping up your strength with bodyweight moves is to make sure you’re executing them at 100 percent. For real functional strength gains, “It’s not about doing as many things as you can but doing them poorly,” says de Jong. “Instead, do fewer things but do them well.” So for this routine, he put together just three moves. If you can’t do all the reps with great form, either do fewer reps or do all reps with the suggested modification.
(Side note: It can be tough to tackle your posterior chain with bodyweight exercises, de Jong says. If you want more of a challenge, and you have access to a gym, consider swapping bench-assisted pistol squats for deadlifts with weight.)
- Pushups (to modify, lower to your knees): Do 10–20 reps.
- Bodyweight Squats: Do 10–20 reps.
- Dead Bugs: Do 10–20 reps.
- Pullups (to modify, do negative or assisted pull-ups with a band): Do 5–10 reps.
- Bench-assisted Pistol Squats: Do 10 reps each side.
Do each move in order with no rest between moves. Rest 1 minute. Repeat for 4–5 sets.
3. Muscle-Building Workout
“When it comes to building muscle, the keys are muscle tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage—how you manipulate these will drive the amount of muscle you’re able to pack on,” says Rosante, who put together this routine. He recommends starting with some self-myofascial release on your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, chest and upper back with some Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls, a lacrosse ball, or a foam roller, followed by a dynamic warmup.
- 1 1/2 Bulgarian Split Squats: With one foot elevated on a bench behind you, lower all the way down, come halfway up, then lower all the down and come back to the top for 1 rep. Do 8–10 reps per side.
- Sixers: At the top of a pushup position, squeeze your hands toward each other like you’re trying to pull the floor together for 6 seconds. Release that tension, then lower for 6 seconds. Hold the bottom of the pushup position for 6 seconds and press back up explosively. That’s 1 rep. Do 6 reps.
- Eccentric Leg Curls: Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor. Push hips up into a bridge. Flex feet and push heels out, slowly extending legs. Take 8-10 seconds to lower your body to the floor. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
- YWT Holds: Lie face down on floor, arms extended in a Y with thumbs up. Squeeze muscles in upper back to raise chest off the floor. Hold 20 seconds. Pull your elbows down to form a W. Hold 20 seconds. Punch arms out to the sides to form a T. Hold 20 seconds. Release to complete 1 set.
- RKC Plank: Start in a forearm plank. Hold for 5 seconds, then pull forearms toward toes and toes toward forearms like you’re trying to pull the floor together. Hold that tension for 5 seconds. Return to start. Continue, alternating 5 seconds at a time for 30 min.
Do each move in order, rest 1 minute. Repeat for 3 or 4 sets. Do this workout 2 or 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days.
4. Weight-loss Workout
“Bodyweight moves that are best for losing weight are low-impact, high-intensity, and very dynamic—meaning they use more than one part of your body,” says de Jong. “A lot of people will turn to high-impact moves like jumps when trying to lose weight, but if you have 20 pounds to shed, those put a lot of unnecessary impact on your joints.” This routine will help you blast fat from head to toe, without that extra stress, in just three moves.
- Mountain climbers
- Bodyweight squats
Do each move for 1 minute in order, rest 1 minute, and repeat 5 times. Do this workout up to 3 times a week with aerobic sessions mixed in to drop pounds faster.
5. Power-Boosting Workout
“Jumps and plyometric training are two of the best tools for developing power with bodyweight exercises,” says Rosante. Keep in mind that not all jumps are plyo moves; plyometrics are more intense and all about minimal ground contact.
Take note: When you’re training for power, focus on high-quality reps and sufficient recovery. “You won’t be huffing and puffing after this workout, but you may notice next-day fatigue due to the high level of demand this places on your central nervous system,” says Rosante.
Start with some self-myofascial release with Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls, a lacrosse ball, or a foam roller. Then do only one of the following moves per session.
- Depth Jumps: Stand on a raised platform. Step out and drop straight down (do not jump). When your feet touch the ground, jump straight up as high as you can, then land softly. Do 3 reps. Rest, then repeat 4–5 times.
- Hurdle Hops: Set up 4 to 6 hurdles (9–12 inches tall) in a straight line, about 40 inches apart. Lower into a quarter-squat and explosively jump over each hurdle, moving as fast as possible. Repeat 7–8 times.
- Depth Jump to Ball Throw: Stand at the edge of a raised platform, holding a weighted ball with an underhand grip. Step off the platform and drop straight down (do not jump). As soon as your feet hit the floor, jump up and throw the ball as high and far behind you as possible. Repeat 7–8 times.
- Box Jumps: Do 4 or 5 sets of 3 reps.
Rest 2–3 minutes between sets. Do a power session twice a week, waiting 48–72 hours between workouts.