Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
Tiny houses, micro-blading, dainty tattoos, microbreweries, teacup Yorkies and microgreens are all the rage right now. So in a world where smaller is suddenly better, it’s no surprise that micro-workouts are the latest trend in fitness.
Unfamiliar with micro-workouts? They are short periods of intensity training that generally last less than 10 minutes. But why is this suddenly a thing?
“People are busy, bottom line,” says television personality and personal trainer Jillian Michaels, who created My Fitness by Jillian Michaels, an award-winning app that offers hundreds of exercises with a corresponding high-definition video to help perfect your form, custom workout plans based on your specific fitness level and goals, and meal plans. “Very few of us can carve out time for 45- to 60-minute workouts, not including travel to and from a gym, so the suggestion that you can get an effective workout in a short period of time is very alluring for busy people.”
Benefits of Micro-Workouts
Michaels firmly believes in the power of micro-workouts, which can provide the following:
For a micro-workout to be truly effective, you need to incorporate exercises that train multiple muscle groups simultaneously (squat thrusters, burpees, renegade rows, etc.) This allows you to save time while burning more calories.
Accelerated physical conditioning.
Because you are training at a higher intensity, your body’s stress adaptation response is accelerated, essentially making you fitter faster.
Micro-workouts decrease the intimidation factor of fitness. They give people permission to “not be perfect” — a pressure so many women succumb to. If you know that all activity you can squeeze in counts and you don’t have to make yourself miserable for an hour if you’re not in the mood, it makes exercise far more palatable.
By incorporating short bursts of activity throughout your day, you are constantly bringing awareness to your fitness. By keeping your health top of mind, it allows you to make better choices overall.
Improved circulation and energy.
By getting your body up and moving intermittently throughout the day — instead of going through long, extended periods of stagnation — you are constantly elevating heart rate, increasing circulation and giving yourself a little energy boost.
How to Add Micro-Workouts to Your Life
The beauty of micro-workouts is that they are easy to incorporate into your busy schedule, no matter where you are. Whether you’re cooped up in a hotel room or stuck late at the office, you can get your blood pumping.
At the office: Do 10 squats, push-ups or burpees in between phone calls and meetings throughout the day.
At home: Set the alarm on your smartphone to ping hourly, and when it goes off, do a quick high-intensity interval training workout (such as one minute of jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knees, butt kicks, etc.)
Anywhere: Download a fitness app that offers short workouts — seven to 10 minutes is all you really need.
“The bottom line is that every step in the right direction is worth taking,” Michaels says. “It should never be all or nothing, as there is no such thing as the perfect diet or the perfect training regimen. We are human. We are busy. We need to practice balance and abandon the absurd notion of perfection.”