The most challenging part of working out isn’t actually working out — it’s finding time to work out. Because let’s be honest, planks, push-ups, and squats aren’t anyone’s idea of a good time. If it’s possible to put off exercising, we will — even if it means weeks of promising ourselves we’ll “finally get around to working out tomorrow.” (Of course, when tomorrow comes, more pressing concerns will undoubtedly arise and that deadline will simply get pushed back another day.) So why not make the goal a little less miserable? It’s hard to make a workout more fun, but it’s easy to make it shorter. Instead of carving out 45 minutes to do some gruelingly intense exercise, why not simply commit to tackling one of YouTube’s 10-minute workout videos every single day?
Setting your workout time at 10 minutes may seem a little arbitrary, but it’s actually a pretty magical amount of time. For starters, it’s about as short a workout as you can do without feeling like you’ve wasted your time. (Sure, you could probably get a bunch done in 5 minutes. But it’s still so short that you’d probably end up spending more time changing into and out of your workout clothes than you would actually working out.) It’s also an amount of time just about all of us can commit to. Those with overwhelmingly busy schedules can likely carve out 10 minutes for a quick yoga flow or a cardio routine. And those of us who are searching for stuff to do instead of working out can surely get through a mere 10 minutes of activity. Put simply, 10 minutes is an easy place to start. It’s an attainable goal to set—and those of us who hate working out can rest assured knowing the exercise will be over almost as quickly as it started.
The other magical thing about a 10-minute workout? You’ll get used to it. At some point, 10 minutes won’t feel as long as it used to. And you can do what you want with that information. Want to continue challenging yourself? Extend your workout commitment: Tack another 10-minute workout onto your 10-minute workout, or find a workout that requires more of your time. Feeling good about your current commitment to fitness? Enjoy the fact that it’s gotten easier. There’s no need to challenge yourself more than you want to. If your goal was to simply get in the habit of working out, celebrate the fact that you’ve accomplished that, and enjoy your newfound strength and endurance.
No matter what your fitness goals are, a 10-minute workout is a pretty good (and approachable!) way to achieve them. And since YouTube’s selection of 10-minute workout videos is incredibly vast and varied, there are tons of great places to start.
Heather Roberston’s Power Cardio Workout
Looking to work up a serious sweat while building strength? Heather Roberston’s Power Cardio Workout will keep you moving for 10 minutes straight. The HIIT workout is made up of 10 different circuits—some of which feature cardio favorites, like jumping jacks, and others of which feature foundational strength moves, like push-ups. There are no breaks during this HIIT workout. But before each circuit, you’ll get a preview of what’s to come—so you won’t have to worry about wasting precious workout time trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing.
MadFit’s Leg/Butt/Thigh Workout
MadFit’s Leg/Butt/Thigh Workout is really just a series of squats and lunges, but she finds so many ways to modify them that the workout never feels boring. The entire routine is split into a series of 30-second intervals, with one 30-second rest interval following four 30-second workout intervals. Though the exercises in this workout are fairly foundational, MadFit takes a moment to demonstrate proper form for each one. So you can rest assured knowing you’re mastering classic movements, while working up a sweat.
Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga for Upper Body Strength
Yoga tends to be a relatively slow-paced exercise, but Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga for Upper Body Strength routine manages to pack a serious punch in just 13 minutes. (The first 3 minutes are a warm-up and the last 2 minutes are a cool-down, so you’re really only working out for 8 minutes. But those 8 minutes are not wasted.) The workout is made up of four different circuits: a series of push-ups, a static plank hold, a series of shoulder-tap planks, and a couple side planks. Each workout interval is punctuated by a restorative child’s pose—so you can rest assured knowing you’ll be granted moments of meditation in between your grueling upper-body work.
Keaira LaShae’s Burn to the Beat: Booty Burn Workout
Keaira LaShae’s Booty Burn Workout is a party in the form of a fitness video. The dance cardio routine will have you sweating after just 11 minutes, but you won’t hate the fact that you’re working out while you’re doing it. In fact—thanks to Keira LaShae’s upbeat personality and thoughtfully chosen dance cardio moves—you might actually enjoy yourself.
Group HIIT’s Cardio Workout for Home
Group HIIT’s Cardio Workout for Home offers a thoughtful blend of cardio and strength exercises. The entire workout is made up of foundational strength moves—like burpees and mountain climbers—that can easily be performed more quickly or more slowly, depending on what kind of workout you’re looking for. The instructor takes each exercise at a slower pace, allowing you to see how to properly perform each move. Don’t feel like you have to sync up with her, though. The beauty of this workout is that you get to decide the frequency that best suits your needs.
Chloe Ting’s Full-Body Cool-Down for Recovery and Flexibility
Never underestimate the importance of a cool-down. Chloe Ting’s Full-Body Cool-Down is a recovery- and flexibility-centric routine that’s great when paired with other exercises and just as excellent on its own. If you have a little extra time, feel free to tack it on to the beginning or end of another workout. Or simply let this 10-minute video be the main event. There’s nothing wrong with active rest—especially if flexibility or injury prevention are among your fitness goals.
Get Bodied by J’s Ab Workout
Get Bodied by J’s Ab Workout is exactly what it sounds like: a core workout that’ll leave you feeling thoroughly challenged after just 9 minutes. The routine is primarily made up of classics—like Russian twists, toe-touches, and planks—but there are enough out-of-the-box moves thrown in to keep things feeling interesting. And no moment is wasted. Once Get Bodied by J finishes her 40-second introduction, plan to work, without introductions, for a full 8 minutes.
Bully Juice’s Bodyweight Workout
Nothing about Bully Juice’s Bodyweight Workout is confusing, complicated, or out-of-the-box. In fact, the entire routine is made up of exercises you already know, but never manage to get around to. The workout starts with jumping jacks and quickly moves into challenging classics, like burpees and mountain climbers. Between intervals, you get 15-second breathers, which may seem a little short—until you remember you’re only working out for a whopping 10 minutes.
The Live Fit Girl’s Total Body Pilates
In just 10 minutes, the Live Fit Girl manages to get through a total-body pilates routine—and one that’s genuinely beginner-friendly, too. The routine is floor work-centric, but you can expect to work your arms, your legs, and your core. And you even get to post-game with a restorative child’s pose—not always a given in a pilates workout, and an absolutely delightful treat for beginners and experts, alike.
A version of this story was published July 2020.
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