5 Total-Body Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

If you find yourself struggling to stick to a regular exercise routine, you have plenty of company. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly 80% of Americans aren’t meeting the recommended weekly amount of exercise. Busy schedules usually get the bulk of the blame, but it’s really just another excuse.

While more time should definitely be allocated to getting fitter, you don’t have to give up all of your leisure activities. Cut out just one 30-minute TV show from your daily routine, and you can get a workout that will challenge every part of your body. These five routines will help you get stronger and slimmer. All you have to do is put down the remote and get started.

1. 30-minute total-body workout

A man doing bench press for total-body workout

You can get a full workout in 30 minutes. | iStock.com

Lifting weights is almost always defined by repetitions and sets, which can be good for gauging progress. The process can feel pretty repetitive at times, so this workout from Muscle & Fitness is a great way to shake things up if you start to feel like you’re just going through the motions. One important thing to note is you’ll definitely need to hit a well-equipped gym for this routine, because it requires you to use several machines. There’s a method to the madness, though. The article explained you’ll fatigue a lot faster since the workout is designed to minimize rest periods.

This workout starts with your chest, then moves to legs, shoulders, back, triceps, and biceps. For each muscle group, perform the indicated exercise for five minutes, using a weight that’s heavy enough to prevent you from going beyond 10 repetitions at a time. The idea is that you rest as needed before getting right back at it; there’s no counting and no trying to remember which set you’re on. This workout is also really flexible, so you can sub other lifts as long as you’re focusing on the same muscle groups. Bear in mind, this workout won’t get your heart pumping as much as ones that include cardio, so save it for a day when you’re primarily focused on building strength.

2. 20-minute total-body circuit

Man doing a total-body workout circuit

Circuit training is tough, but worth it. | iStock.com

When time is working against you, going with a circuit routine is one of your best options. FitDay explained these workouts force you to do as much as possible in a condensed amount of time. Your heart rate will remain elevated throughout the workout since there aren’t any rest periods between moves. Because circuit training is designed to be intense, you can get a killer workout in just 20 minutes.

BuiltLean’s routine was designed around five moves that many trainers like to incorporate into their clients’ workouts. The first exercise is a two-in-one move combining upright rows and squats, so you’ll simultaneously challenge your shoulders and your upper leg muscles. After 15 repetitions, move to reverse lunges. This move is exactly what it sounds like — just step backwards as you kneel to the ground for 16 repetitions. Next, you complete as many push-ups as possible, then do the same for pull-ups. Finish the round with 20 medicine ball twists, and repeat the cycle at least three more times.

3. 20-minute circuit workout

pull ups, exercise

This cardio workout is killer. | iStock.com

Many men detest the very thought of cardio, and avoid it at all costs. After all, it isn’t necessarily the best way to slim your waist. Men’s Journal revealed strength training is better for reducing belly fat. As your muscles grow, they adapt in a way that increases oxygen intake, which boosts your ability to burn fat. While that’s great, there’s no replacement for cardio when it comes to heart health. Instead of choosing between weights or hitting the stationary bike when you’re short on time, go with a routine that combines the two.

To get your heart rate going, this workout from Men’s Fitness starts out with one minute of walking followed by one minute of sprinting. You’ll go right into the first of six circuits that incorporate push-ups, pull-ups, planks, side hops, curls, leg lifts, and burpees. It sounds like a lot, but remember that you need to move right from one exercise into the next. No breaks means you’ll be done faster and get the most effective workout. If you feel completely wiped at the end, you did your job.

4. 20-minute workout

gym, dumbbell

Using lighter weights has its advantages. | iStock.com

A tiny workout window might have you heading for the heaviest dumbbells you can lift. That’s actually not the best idea, because you’ll need too much rest between sets to get very far. Men’s Health designed a fat-burning workout that goes in the opposite direction. The idea is to use lighter weights so you can perform moves with greater speed and intensity. It gets your heart pumping while stressing your muscles at the same time.

This 20-minute workout includes five exercises starting with a dumbbell split stance see-saw row. After four minutes, which incorporates some brief rest periods, you’ll take a 60-second breather. Following the same timeline, you’ll move on to the dumbbell split stance see-saw overhead press, than the dumbbell discus, and finish with a combination of dumbbell shoulder jacks and dumbbell shuffle presses. Be sure to check out the photos for guidelines on how to perform each portion. While five exercises might not sound like enough, they’re all multitaskers. You’ll be plenty tired by the end.

5. 30-minute bodyweight workout

A man doing a push-up

This bodyweight workout will build muscle. | iStock.com

If a busy day eliminates the possibility of commuting to the gym, you can still get a great workout in a short amount of time. There are tons of moves that use nothing more than your own body weight and are every bit as challenging as ones that use dumbbells. Even if you’re away on a beach for vacation, you can incorporate a routine into your day. Bodybuilding.com said it can also be a great way to switch up your regular routine so you minimize the chances of getting bored.

To get started on this workout from Men’s Journal, you’ll complete three sets of 10 push-ups. The routine also includes planks, dips, lunges, mountain climbers, pull-ups, and squats. Each of these moves should be challenging in order to get a good workout. If the exercises feel too relaxed, you’ll want to follow the recommendations to make them more intense. Have even less time? The article suggested completing as many of the prescribed activities as possible in 15 minutes. You’ll get a pretty decent workout as long as you’re maximizing your effort.