This workout was developed for those that need a super-short whole-body fitness blast to squeeze into a tight time frame. It’s one of those ‘break-in-an-emergency’ sessions that you could use if you're running late, missed the alarm, or need to blow off some steam at the office.
The exercises that comprise the 15 minute workout will ensure that all the major muscle groups are activated. Exercises like kettlebell swings and dumbbell thrusters engage every link in the posterior chain as well as a score of synergist and stabiliser muscles.
In addition, the training methods selected – HIIT and resistance – engage multiple components of fitness. For example, HIIT helps elevate your heart rate and facilitates circulation while firing up the metabolism. So, as well as enhancing aerobic capacity, HIIT improves cardiovascular health and body composition.
Essential reading: High Intensity Interval Training
Compounding the effectiveness of the cardio kick, the resistance exercises promote muscular endurance. But because they’re multi-lane movements – such as plyometric squat jumps and press-ups – they also possess the capacity to increase functional physicality.
How to do this 15 minute workout
We should always spend 5 to 10 minutes warming up before exercise. A progressive-intensity warm-up improves training performance while reducing injury risk. However, as this is billed as 15 minute workout, it is assumed that you might not have time to warm up.
If this is the case, I recommend using the first 5 minutes as an integrated warm-up. Begin at a low intensity, keeping the resistance low also, and gradually pick up the pace as you warm to the workout.
The session plan is comprised of a series of exercise pairings. Each pairing (or round) is scheduled for one minute – 30 seconds of cardio followed by 30 seconds of resistance. The cardio exercise remains the same, but the resistance station changes.
The first three stations involve bodyweight movements, The exercises get progressively more challenging as you progress through the plan.
Because this is a short workout, to get the most out of it you will need to sustain a high intensity. Aim to complete the 30-second cardio bursts at close to 100% maximum effort. Use the resistance as ‘active recovery.’
15 minute workout key points
If you’ve got 5 (or 10) minutes to spare, complete the warm-up below.
The session plan features a series of cardio and resistance pairings.
Each pairing is scheduled for one minute – 30s cardio followed by 30s resistance.
The cardio exercise doesn’t change but the resistance exercise does every two minutes.
You will complete two rounds on the cardio/bodyweight pairings and three rounds on the cardio/resistance pairings.
For 15 minutes, your objective is to sustain a high intensity. Avoid resting for the full duration of the workout.
To help keep track of your progress through the workout, use the session plan as a shopping list ticking off rounds as you go.
5 minute warm up
1-minute mobility exercises → 1-minute cardio (low pace) → 15-second air squats → 15-second press-ups → 1-minute cardio (low pace) → 15-second air squats → 15-second air squats → If you’ve got time, give the warm-up another whirl!
15 minute workout hints and tips
You’ll have noticed that no specific exercise has been stipulated for the cardio station. This is a bid to appeal to a wider audience. You can select the cardio exercise of your choice. When I completed the workout, I opted for skipping because it engages more of your physicality than most other cardio exercises. Also, skipping is a time-efficient exercise in the sense that, when the 30 seconds elapse, you can ditch the rope and almost immediately start the resistance exercise. But if you can’t skip, shuttle sprints or rowing would be good alternatives.
Some of the exercises require exercise equipment – kettlebells and dumbbells. If you plan to complete this workout at home, on your hols or in the office, you can, of course, convert all the stations to bodyweight exercises. Alternatively, if you have a kettlebell at home (or an Olympic barbell and some bumper plates), and you want to focus more on, say, strength development as opposed to fitness conditioning, you could replace all the stations with resistance exercises.
Following on from the point above, all the exercises that feature in the session plan can be changed to suit your training facility and fitness objectives. For example, if you’re aim is to enhance whole-body conditioning, you may want to prioritise resistance exercises over bodyweight movements. There’s also the option of tailoring the workout to suit a sport. A boxer could keep skipping as the cardio exercise but replace the resistance stations with boxing-specific drills – such as the punch bag or pad work.
Remember, you don't have to stick to 15-minutes. If you've got more time on your hands extend the workout. You could do this by throwing a few more rounds in – for example, increasing the bodyweight exercises to three rounds – or completing the workout twice on the bounce.
Related: Try this 20 Minute Workout
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