No time to exercise? All you need is 15 minutes

Somedays it seems like there’s just no time to fit in a workout. With work, family responsibilities and driving kids to after-school activities, it might seem impossible to find time to exercise.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating; you don’t find time to exercise, you make time.

What’s more, you only need to carve out 15 minutes to reap many of the benefits of exercise; better sleep, elevated mood, fewer sugar cravings, less-frequent injuries and perhaps, if you make time daily, weight loss and increased lean muscle mass.

Aren’t convinced that you can earmark 15 minutes of your day to workout?

  • How much time to you spend on Facebook? Twitter? Reading blogs (okay, read mine before you exercise okay)?
  • How much television do you watch? An hour? Two or more?
  • Can you get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning?
  • Do you need to spend an hour at the coffee shop with your friends, or will 45 minutes suffice?
  • Do you have ‘time to kill’ while your children are at soccer/piano/ballet/hockey practice?

We can all make room in our day for 15 minutes of exercise.

I’ve put together three 15-minute workouts (the first of which I did today, in the 15 minutes available between dropping my son off at school and teaching my morning small group training class; very effective, too, I might add!).

Two require equipment; depending on what type of workout tools you have at home, they could be done without leaving your house (saving you even more time) or at the gym. The third requires no equipment at all. You can do it anywhere (home, park, backyard, parking lot, behind the bleachers), anytime.

All three workouts have the same structure; perform each exercise for 45 s then rest for 15 s before starting the next exercise. Work through the number of cycles indicated (this is key!) without a break. If you can’t complete 45 s of a particular exercise, stop early and add the remainder of the work time to your next rest interval.

I like to use my trusty Gymboss interval timer, set for 15 intervals of a 45/15 s cycle. It does all the counting for me!

Before starting your workout, familiarize yourself with the exercises and perform 10-15 reps of each at a warmup level (toe pushups would be warmed us as wall pushups; dumbbell squats would be warmed us as body weight squats; pull ups would be warmed up as a dead hang etc.). Click on the links below to see descriptions and demonstrations of the most basic form of each exercise; make sure to use the equipment and perform the add-ons that I describe below!

Ready, set, go!

Workout #1 (equipment: 1 set of dumbbells, 1 pull up bar)

  1. Pull ups (assisted, regular, weighted, wide grip, narrow grip; your choice)
  2. Dumbbell front squats (hold dumbbells slightly in front of shoulders; add a shoulder press on the way up if you want)
  3. Pushups (against the wall, from knees, on toes, spiderman; your choice)
  4. Dumbbell straight leg deadlifts (heels elevated or not)
  5. Burpees or squat thrusts
Workout #2 (equipment: 2 sets of dumbbells, stability ball, flat bench)
  1. Walking lunges with dumbbells held at side (or alternating forward lunges if you don’t have the space)
  2. Low ab pull ins/pushup combo over the ball (1 pushup, 1 pull in, repeat; if you can’t perform the combo in good form, choose one of the two movements and do this instead)
  3. Dumbbell deadlift/bent over row combo (descending phase of deadlift, hold position and row dumbbells up to armpits, finish the row then the ascending phase of deadlift; if you can’t perform the combo in good form, choose one of the two movements and do this instead)
  4. Holding a V-sit on bench, extend arms down to the floor, bicep curl to shoulder press (if the V-sit bothers your lower back, place one or both feet on the floor)
  5. Bench hop-overs (straddle bench, place hands on bench at one end of the bench, hop both legs back and forth over the bench; you should look like an antelope!)
Workout #3 (equipment: none, although an exercise mat may make things more comfortable when performing pushups and planks)

  1. Body weight squats, hands behind head (keep chest forward, bum back and knees behind toes)
  2. Pushups (whichever variety you like; add intensity by placing feet on a book or step)
  3. Alternating backward lunges or lunge jumps (aim for 90 degrees at both knees at the bottom of your lunge)
  4. Plank (from knees or toes, forearms on the ground with elbows under shoulders; tummy and bum should be held tight the whole time)
  5. Imaginary skipping (for non-skippers, this is way more effective than trying to manage a rope!)
Disclaimer: These workouts may or may not be for you, depending on your age, weight and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before you begin a new exercise program.

Let me know which one you like/hate the most?

Do you make time in your day for exercise?

Looking for an inexpensive way to jump-start your journey to fitness and health? Join my online Bootcamp today! Get more info by clicking the image below.

Looking for an inexpensive way to jump-start your journey to fitness and health? Join my online Bootcamp today! Get more info by clicking the image below.


  1. I

    with that said, I’ll have to put down my needles and workout today….later.

  2. Mariposagirl says:

    Hey I just wanted to come back and tell you that your 15 minutes a day is turning out to be the perfect motivation I needed.

    I did two rounds of 15 minutes yesterday. One was yoga and the second was chasing JJ around to make sure I got my heart rate up.


    • Hooray!
      Fifteen minutes really isn’t very long, is it?
      I’m thinking maybe I’ll do some cardio-house cleaning later this week…
      Happy Halloween!

  3. As a coach “I don’t have time” is the most common excuse I hear from clients who are resisting changes that they know will have positive effects. As you mentioned – its about creating the time and making it happen. We all have the same amount after all.

  4. Here, here! I bet you and I would have a lot to talk about over coffee!
    And today I made time to meditate for 10 minutes, cook a healthy (no sugar-no chocolate) dinner for my family and write a new blog post!
    Thanks for stopping by, Kirri!


  1. […] that exercise can be done anytime, anywhere (goodness knows I’ve posted my share of short-at-home-in-your-hotel-room workouts), I somehow still feel that unless I go to the gym and spend 45-60 […]