Super Short Full-Body Workouts

Maximize your Return on Investment: do super short full-body workouts that demand you to push yourself to the max.

Even when your workouts are never longer than 30 to 45 minutes, it can sometimes still be pretty hard to fit them into your daily routine. That’s why it is good to know that even shorter versions can also be highly effective. If you are really short on time and have difficulty making it to the gym, but you are willing and able to push yourself to the max for 5 to 10 minutes, high intensity circuit training (H.I.C.T.) might be just the thing for you. This kind of training incorporates all the key elements of complete full body workout and will have you sweating in minutes.

Generally, this kind of training includes 6 to 12 exercises that last for 30 seconds each and cover all major muscle groups of the body. Including a short warm up and 5-10 second mini-breaks between the exercises, the total work-out time usually varies between 4 and 8 minutes. Add the time that you need to cool down and catch your breath at the end, and you will be done in less than ten minutes.

While the impact of these super-short workouts is slightly less compared to the 20 to 30-minute versions that are often offered in gyms, or the 4×4-version of traditional H.I.I.T., they have been scientifically proven to enhance aerobic fitness, reduce blood pressure, help manage blood glucose levels and lose excess body fat. To maximize your return on investment, just do these work-outs!

How Does H.I.C.T. Work?

The goal is to go at it as best you can, while properly executing 15 to 20 repetitions in every set of 30 seconds. This implies that the difficulty of the exercises largely depends on your fitness levels. Beginners will, for instance, do their push-ups on their knees, intermediates will perform regular ones, and fitter people will do them with both hands on-top of each other and two legs together to make the exercise more difficult.

The Underlying Mechanisms

The reason why H.I.C.T. can be so effective in so little time has a lot to do with the rest intervals and the order in which the exercises are executed. Shorter rest periods result in a shorter total exercise time, and usually they’re only 5 to 10 seconds. You might be inclined to think that you need longer breaks to help you recover and get the most out of your next high-intensity interval, but H.I.C.T. offers another solution. By alternating exercises that emphasize the large muscles of the upper body and lower body, the muscles trained in the earlier set get a 30-second break during the next set. This way they can partly recover, ensuring that they have enough energy to perform the next exercise(s) with proper form, and optimum intensity. Furthermore, by alternating exercises that speed up the heart rate, with exercises that allow it to lower slightly, you’re also constantly alternating between endurance and more strength. Generally, dynamic lower or whole-body exercises are used to speed up your heart rate, and slower or more stationary exercises, such as squats, lunges or a plank are used to slow down the heart rate. These constant changes make it possible to do a large volume full-body workout in just minutes, with minimal rest between exercises. That is what makes these workouts super-efficient. So if you want to get fit, or stay fit in as little as possible time, give them a go. It doesn’t take long to try them out yourself.

The 7-Minute Work-out

The most well-known example of super short full-body workouts is probably the 7-minute workout. It consists of 12 exercises you do for 30 seconds, with 5-second breaks in between. One of the reasons why the workout has become so popular is that it’s available through free apps, guiding you through the workout and offering a number of valuable features that help you create a personalized routine. You can combine different circuits, choose specific exercises you like, watch a trainer who shows you how to do the exercises or listen to and control music during your work-out.

You can download the official 7-minute workout app at

The 4-minute workout: Tabata

Tabata in its most basic form is 20 seconds of hard training followed by 10 seconds of rest or low activity, repeated 8 times. This super short training method was initially developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata for Olympic speed skaters, with the intention to have them work close to their maximum heart rate in now time. In 1996 his landmark study on the effects of H. I. I.T. showed that his training method was much more effective than the common ways of training that were based on steady exercise intensities. Since then, many sports scientist have been developing all sorts of comparable work-outs, and research is continuing to show that they are highly effective. Today, most gyms will offer H. I. I.T. based work-outs, of which many are based on the concept of Tabata.