Are Short Workouts Effective?

When time is short, new research suggests just ten or fifteen minutes could help your health and longevity.

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Monday motivation

  • What short workouts do to your body

  • Workout of the week

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Arnold’s Corner: Monday Motivation

One of my favorite things about working out in public gyms instead of my home gym is seeing all the people there coming together with the same goal: to do some work to be fitter today than they were yesterday.

As you can imagine, I’m not shy about giving pointers in the gym. Back in the Golden Era of Bodybuilding, when we were all training together, whether it was at Gold’s or Vince’s gym, we were constantly learning from each other. We were watching and copying whenever we saw someone trying a new exercise.

But these days, in the gym, the most common thing I’m telling people is to stop doing half-reps, quarter-reps, or three-quarter reps.

There is an epidemic of people not doing a full movement, and it worries me.

If you’ve ever been near me in the gym, you’ve probably heard me tell somebody to stop doing half-reps.

Here’s why it worries me.

We go to the gym for all the benefits of being fit and strong. But if you only do half of the movement, you’re only getting half of the benefits.

I worry that the people who do half-reps in the gym are there just to check a box, and they aren’t concerned about whether they’re making the most of their half-hour or hour of training.

I completely understand that there are bad days where we all have to force ourselves to the gym just to go through the motions — but if that’s what you’re doing, then go through the motions.

We know that resistance training with a full range of motion is just as powerful as stretching for increasing flexibility and mobility. We know training with a full range of motion is the most efficient way to gain strength and muscle mass.

But still, people go to the gym and do half-reps.

I’m worried because people are missing out on the fantastic benefits of progressive weight resistance training, but I’m even more worried about what it might mean for the rest of their lives.

If you don’t make the most of your time in the gym, I am willing to bet you aren’t making the most of your time, period. If you do half-reps of pull-ups, I’m guessing we can find other parts of your life you’re giving half the attention needed.

When you’re raising your kids, spending time with your spouse or partner, or just doing your job, do you find yourself mindlessly giving only half of your effort to get through it and check the box, the same way you do in the gym?

When you’re sitting down for dinner with your family and take a few moments to type out that email about your work project, do you think you’re giving your family or your work the attention they deserve?

You know the answers.

One of the downsides of social media is that it’s given people a way to look like they’re doing something instead of just doing it.

People look like they’re busy. People look like they’re spending time with their families. People look like they’re working out.

But think about the happiest times of your life. You didn’t think about capturing it for the ‘gram because you were all in. It was your moment. You were giving it the attention it deserved. You were doing full reps.

This week, I want you to use your time in the gym to train your mind.

Slow down. Don’t do anything but full reps. You’re there for 30 minutes or an hour, so walk in with the simple goal to make the most of every single minute. As we say in German, wenn schon, denn schon. If you’re going to do it, do it.

The gym is a representation of your life.

There are good days and bad days of training. Success demands struggle. Full effort beats half effort every time.

Progress requires learning to love the process.

The joy is in the doing.

Now get to the gym and do your full reps.

Are Short Workouts Effective?

We know it’s hard to find time to exercise. And you might not have time to work out.

However, you can’t afford not to make time because your life is at stake. Countless studies show the risks of inactivity to lifespan and disease prevention. The good news? You need much less time than you think and don’t even need a gym. 

Research suggests you can protect your health and live longer with as little as 30 minutes per week of exercise.

Let that number sink in — just 30 minutes total per week. Is that enough to turn you into Mr. Olympia? No, but that’s not the point. Going from no strength training to 30 minutes can dramatically change your health and help you build stronger habits. Getting started is the hardest part, but when you realize a little strength goes a long way, it can change everything. 

The researchers reviewed 16 studies and found that 30 minutes of strength training led to a 20 percent reduced risk of death from all causes, mostly because the added resistance helped protein against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. 

If strength training seems too intimidating, cardio makes a big difference but requires a little more time to make a similar impact. Research suggests 1 hour of aerobic exercise per week can lower your mortality risk by 15 percent. 

Looking for a place to start? Block off 10 minutes daily for a walk (for the cardio), or try the “Workout of the Week” below. You can do the bodyweight or weighted version, which takes 15 minutes to complete. Keep pumping!

Workout of the Week

We just told you that 10 minutes of strength training is enough to protect your health, so here is a plan to build strength in no time. You can perform this program three days per week, resting one day between each workout. 

How to do it:

This workout is built around timed sets. You’ll perform each exercise for the time listed (based on your experience level), rest, and then move to the next exercise. Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes, and when the time is up, the workout is over. 

If you’re a beginner, do each movement for 10 seconds

If you’re intermediate, do each movement for 20 seconds

If you’re advanced, do each movement for 30 seconds

After each exercise, rest for 30 seconds and then continue. Cycle through the exercises as many times as you can in 10 to 15 minutes.

Bodyweight version

  1. Hip raise

  2. Walking lunge

  3. Pushup

  4. Superman pullup or inverted row

  5. Plank 

Weighted version (use dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells)

  1. Straight leg deadlift

  2. Lunges

  3. Overhead press

  4. Bent-over row

  5. Hollow body hold

Give it a try, and let Arnold know how it goes! We hope you all have a fantastic week ahead.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell