Top 10 Thursday: Top 10 Exercises For Short On Time Workouts

by Taylor Ryan & Dan Boyle

Sometimes life tries to step in front of you. When it does this, it can mean screwing up your schedule and making the hour that you originally had carved out for your workout just 15 minutes.

I’ve been there.

The days where…

There is one meeting after another, you have to skip your lunch break to run an emergency errand, and when you finally have the freedom to head to the gym (before meeting up with friends for dinner), you realized that you left your sports bra in the laundry room. Home it is.

Once home, you realize that the day is shot and that your much fantasized workout isn’t going to happen.

So what do you do?

Well, if you’re like most women, you shrug your shoulders grab a drink and sit on the couch until it’s time to head out again.

Good thing you are not like most women.

You see that you have a solid 15 minutes before you have to be ready for the evening. Instead of sitting on your ass, you find your sports bra and make the most of your time with a killer 15 minute workout. You know 15 minutes is long enough to accomplish a lot when it comes to your body.

For those moments, I present to you my top 10 exercises for short on time workouts. These are big movements that cause a lot of muscle recruitment, a lot of heart pounding and even more calorie burning in just a short amount of time.

Because if you’ve got 15 minutes, how much good is a bicep curl really going to do you? Not much…I promise.

Some of these might require a few pieces of equipment/weights… they are worth investing in.

The 10 Best Exercises For Short On Time Workouts

1. Kettlebell swings

Tired of kettlebell talk? Sorry, but these are far too great to not be on the list.

Swings are a great way to tie together cardio and strength training. I promise after a 45 second set, your tush will be on fire and your heart rate will be sky high.

Kettle Bell Swing

Don’t take my word for it… do it.

2. Jump rope

Anytime someone asks for advice for a quick on the go workout, I suggest jump roping. In fact, aside from doing sprints or hill work, jump roping might be the hardest form of cardio because of it’s intensity. You’ll feel a burn in your calves, shoulders and butt almost immediately.

Here’s my most recent jump rope workout.

jump rope

3. Burpees

Why is a burpee called a burpee? Because saying: Squat to plank to push-up to squat thrust to squat jump just doesn’t have a good ring to it.

Fast forward to 3.10 minutes to see the complete breakdown and how-to of a burpee.

But when you break it apart that is what a burpee is… all those exercises tossed together to create a move that works practically every big muscle group in your body.

4. Plyo Jumps 

This is vague, but I’m talking about squat jumps, lunge jumps, and any other type of jump you can think of. Do a test: do 20 body weight squats. Rest for a minute and then do 20 squat jumps. Which caused your muscles to burn the most and your heart rate to go up the fastest?


The jumps of course.

5. Up-Down Thrusters

Up-downs are great, thrusters are great… why not combine the two?

This might be one where you’re wondering, what the heck is that?

up down

Start at the top of a push-up position, and lower down into an elbow plank one at a time, then push back up to the start. Once at the top of a push-up, quickly jump your feet in towards your hands and then back out to the starting position.

That’s one rep.

6. Squat Press


Another combination move? Yes, because combination moves are perfect for getting a lot done in a short amount of time. Of course you could do a set of squats and then a set of presses, but it makes more sense to just do a set of squat presses so you can move on.

Start with dumbbells or a kettlebell, squat down, weight evenly distributed on your feet so that the thighs are parallel to the ground. As you return to standing, press the weight up to the sky and lower down.

Image source

7. Mountain Climbers

I won’t lie, I hate doing mountain climbers. We have a deeply love-hate relationship. I hate them but they love me and the results can’t be denied.

I keep coming back for more.


Start at the top of a push-up position, keeping the shoulders right over the wrist, then quickly driver your knees, one at a time, in towards your chest. Make it fast and keep good form and you’ll feel your abs, shoulders and legs working like crazy.

8. Turkish Get-ups

Words simply can’t explain this exercise to give it justice. It looks simple enough, but I promise after just one rep you’ll think “what the…”

Core, legs, shoulders… you name it, the get-up hits it. Start with a very, very light weight to get the feel of the move before trying to up the pounds.

This is kettlebell expert, Jason Brown… who may or may not be a guest next week on the podcast. Hint hint. 
9. Core Plank Combo:

My favorite: 60 sec plank + 60 mt climbers… 30 sec plank + 30 mt climbers… repeat

I know I mentioned mountain climbers already, but when I am short on time, this is the ab workout I prefer to do. Planks are great but take it to the next level by pairing them with an ab exercise that will also raise your heart rate.


You don’t have to do climbers, other options could be leg raises, crunches, sit-ups, toe-touches, etc.

10. Jumping Jacks

Jack Lalanee knew he had something good when he termed “jumping jacks”.

jack lalanne

What other cardio move includes such a large range of motion? Your arms are flailing around, as are your legs and your core is squeezed in tight. With all that action, means a lot of muscle recruitment, calorie burn and overall kick ass move for fast to the point workouts.

Thanks Jack.

Now What? 

Now that you have the exercises, what does that mean? When time is short and your workout is on the line aim for a timed interval workout. Instead of doing each move for a certain amount of reps, do them for a length of time.

My personal favorite is 45 seconds of exercise, 10 seconds of rest before moving to the next… I love doing this with 4-6 exercises. Of course that means you’ll go for a total of 2-4 rounds depending on the time you have. But one thing is for certain, if you go the FULL intensity during that quick 45-seconds of exertion you will sweat, burn and feel amazing at the end.

-What’s your favorite big body exercise? 

-Least favorite?

My favorite changes depending on my current training plans. Right now I am loving swings and dreading lunges.

Click to continue reading this fitness post: Lifting Revolution for Women - Change Your Life With Taylor


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