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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 02, 2008

15-Minute Workout

By Worker Bee
28 Comments

Maybe it’s a business trip, or a busy day that has managed to crowd into your traditional workout time. Let’s face it: there are dozens of everyday life circumstances that often get in the way of the perfect workout routine. But what can we do to keep these occasional challenges from becoming excuses to forgo a workout altogether? Sometimes flexibility (of a non-physical variety) is key. Enter the 15-minute workout.

A 15-minute workout routine should be easy to do, shouldn’t take much – if any – equipment, should be able to be performed just about anywhere, and should work the core as well as the upper and lower body. It’s a program you can do at home when you’re short on time, when you’re on the road and don’t have the time/opportunity to hit the gym or go for an outdoor workout – even when you’re in the hoosegow awaiting bail. Alternatively, you can also use it during a “normal” day to break things up.

Before we move on, we should stipulate that we aren’t proposing the 15-minute routine as a basis for your regular workout, but we think it can be a solid, full body program that you can rely on in a pinch.

That said, let’s break down that 15-minute routine. Think “boot camp calisthenics” with short, intense segments of 30 seconds to 1 minute with at least 10 seconds rest between exercises. Here’s a simple option.

Pushups (Do as many as you can do in 30-60 seconds.)
*Rest
Sitting monkey (Lie on your back with hands at your sides and lift your upper body and legs. Position your arms and lower legs to be parallel to the floor. Do as many as you can do in 30-60 seconds. You get the idea.)
*Rest
Free squats
*Rest
Handstands (Walking your feet up and down the wall)
*Rest
Burpees (video example)
*Rest
High-step run
*Rest
Inchworm (Beginning in standard push-up position, walk your feet toward your hands and then back again to initial position. video example)

Repeat as often as needed for a 15-minute program, but the sky’s really the limit. You can always make up new exercises using a towel, a chair, the bed, etc. For more ideas and video demonstrations, go to www.crossfit.com and check out their “exercises and demos.” The point is, anything you do intensely for 15 minutes will buy you another day of fitness maintenance.

Comments or suggestions for additional exercises in the above workout? Other ideas you use for quick routines? We’d love to hear them.

svanes Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Mark’s Weekly Workout Routine

Mark’s Beach Sprints Video

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

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28 Comments on "15-Minute Workout"

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Saraj
8 years 5 months ago

I love CrossFIT 🙂

I have to get my boyfriend doing it too because when we go to the gym and I do Crossfit I am done and ready to go usually within 20-30 minutes (depending on how much warm-up I do) but he wants to stay 45 minutes to an hour.

Steve O.
Steve O.
8 years 5 months ago

Yeah, I’m one of those guys that has to spend at least an hour at the gym every time I go (mostly cardio). I usually don’t have time for the gym on weekends, so this is something I’ll give a try. Do I have to worry about my knees at all while doing this?

Migraineur
8 years 5 months ago

I love it! Can’t wait to try – I’ve lost a lot of weight but I still need some toning.

Huw
8 years 5 months ago

Hindu press-ups (push-ups) are great, especially to alternate with a fast exercise like (superspeed) jumping jacks.

Travis
Travis
8 years 5 months ago

I just noticed the book on top of the gym bag in the photo. Whoever can read Faulkner while working out deserves a gold medal just for that.

Dr. Incognito
8 years 5 months ago

Mark,
This post received recognition on redscrubs.com’s Weekly Wrap-up/Honorable Mention list.

Sincerely,
Dr. Incognito

MizFit
8 years 5 months ago

I just finished a crosstraining article and was embarrassed at how much Id scoffed at it before/my fitness level improved during the 6 weeks I did it.
Im lucky to live in a warm climate (and have no shame? who can say) so I used monkeybars at a park and hula hoop as well.

I was amazed at how much more fatigued I was after those workouts than after my 40 minute stationary bike ride!

M.

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Ron
Ron
8 years 4 months ago
Between my previous body comp test on March 7th and my last on April 23rd, I was in a middle of a house move and was only able to hit the gym once a week (30-45 min). In between I did wind sprints at home and either stair running or hindu squats at work. I also ate primarily a high protein/fat, high fiber diet in addition to partial IF 2-3 times per week. The results of my last body comp surprised me. On March 7th I was at 170 lbs at 14.1% bf. Last week I measured in at 167… Read more »
Mark Sisson
8 years 4 months ago

Ron,

Nice work. Isn’t it amazing how concentrating on briefer, but more intense workouts can have such an impact? Also, your diet is designed now to alter body composition towards musclebuilding/preserving and fat-burning. Keep up the great work. 10% is not that far away…and once you get there you’ll see how easy (and painless) it is to stay there.

Ron
Ron
8 years 4 months ago

Thanks Mark. I’m frankly boggled why so many people (guys?) seem so afraid to try this regimen. I’m not a professional athlete, so I don’t stress myself out scheduling my workouts, I take what time is available and work with that. Even my weight training is pretty retro. I do nothing sitting or lying down…squats, deadlifts, olympic presses, dips…mostly 3x8s or 5x5s, in and out in 45 min or less. Nothing sexy, all compound exercises. Nothing ego driven, just what gets the results I want.

Norm
8 years 4 months ago

why rest between exercises?

come up with a rep scheme, say..40, 30, 20, 10 – meaning 40 of each, 30 of each, and so on until complete.(scale the volume for your current capacity as appropriate)

storm through for time (3,2,1, GO…) – Better yet, find a couple friends and do it together – keep score.

Keep track of your time and compare the next time you do it. If you perform better, then what you’ve been doing is working. (empirical based fitness)

That’s CrossFit

Maria
Maria
8 years 4 months ago

I agree, Norm, omit the rest and you’ll be getting an authentic CrossFit workout.

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Alice Colleen Eszler
Alice Colleen Eszler
7 years 6 months ago
I am a 79 yr. young widow with MS, Arthritis and many other handicaps and need a wheelchair exercise setup. I was an acitivities coordinator over 40 yrs. ago until felled by MS, diagnosed in 1978. I did passive exercises with bedridden residents and regular wheelchair group sessions. But my memory is faulty due to the MS and a mild stroke last year. I live with one of my sons and am primarily confined to my room and do most of my ADLS alone. Thank you for any help as I have been on the Phase I Diet for a… Read more »
Ricky
Ricky
7 years 6 months ago

Mark,

I may be missing something, on the weight days are you doing zero cardio or just low intensity?

Thanks

Adam
7 years 5 months ago

Hey Mark,

You hit the spot with this post. I would add that even 10 minutes can give you a great workout. Many times at night if I’m really strapped for time but want to add a little high intensity work I’ll alternate 20 pushups and 20 situps as fast as I can for 10 minutes. If you do it fast enough you don’t want any more than 10 minutes! Any two bodyweight exercises can be alternated but I really like the basics…pushups, situps, squats, burpees.

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