You don’t need a gym to get fit.
Embrace micro workouts: mini workouts done throughout the day.
If you can’t find the motivation or time to go to the gym, use this method to stay healthy and work towards your physical goals.
How to Do A Micro Workout
Pick a workout and set a goal for the number of reps you want to finish for the day.
For example, 100 jumping jacks or 100 squats. I like to set a goal for 100 burpees.
Then, divide the reps around specific events or times: before meetings, after bathroom breaks or the beginning of every hour.
Here are two examples of what that looks like.
In college I had to read through big sections of textbooks to prepare for midterms and finals.
To take make the most of my study sessions, I did 20 push-ups every time I finished reading a chapter.
By the time I finished studying, I’d have 100 push-ups under my belt.
A more recent example:
Every day, I scroll through 24 hours of #goldenretriever posts to find content for an Instagram account I run.
To combat the monotony, I do 20 burpees every time I get through 50 posts. By the time I’ve finished scrolling through all the posts, I’ve also completed 100 burpees.
There are an endless number of ways to use micro workouts. Whether it’s 10 squats every hour, 20 jumping jacks after every email you send or 10 toe-touches every time your boss walks by your cubicle, it’s easy to get creative with your set-up.
The best part about micro workouts is the efficiency.
Micro workouts allow you to work out any time, any place, which saves you the commute time to the gym.
This is perfect if you have an extremely busy schedule or have trouble motivating yourself.
They also allow you to get fit in a much shorter period of time.
Whether you’re doing 20 burpees or 20 jumping jacks, each set will take you at most a minute to complete.
Let’s say your goal is 200 jumping jacks. If you break that up into 20 jumping jacks per set, it’ll take you a total of 10 minutes —dispersed throughout the day — to hit your goal.
It’s likely you’ll never break a sweat.
Sweating has a lot of health benefits, but it also means having to change into gym clothes to avoid stains.
It also means having to shower afterwards. Both of these events can add to the perception that you just don’t have time to work out.
With micro workouts, however, you don’t have this excuse.
While you’re elevating your heart rate with each set, it’s usually not at a level that will make you sweat (note: this can vary depending on your weight, fitness level and exercise of choice).
In fact, you can control how much or how little you sweat. For example, if 5 sets of 20 burpees leaves you soaked, split it into 20 sets of 5 burpees.
Micro workouts can give you increased focus.
I’ve noticed this when I build my work out around a long, time-consuming task.
For example, in college, I got headaches every time I read through an entire section of a textbook.
But when I did push-ups in between each chapter, it refreshed my brain and improved blood flow.
This allowed me to read through more while also maintaining above-average comprehension.
Are Micro Workouts Effective for Fitness?
Several studies comparing long-duration workout sessions (30–50 minutes) to short-duration sessions (10 minutes) found that short-duration sessions produce nearly identical benefits in terms of weight loss, aerobic fitness and insulin sensitivity.
I haven’t been able to find any studies on one–two minute workouts, but I’ll share some anecdotal experience.
If your goal is to maintain or improve cardio, micro workouts can be very effective.
I start breathing heavily when I hit 30 burpees, so if I want to improve my cardio, I do sets of 25 burpees. This allows me to elevate my heart rate just enough so that I’m out of my comfort zone.
If your goal is to build muscle, micro workouts are effective for maintaining your current size.
But since hypertrophy requires training to failure, which will probably require sweating and grunting, you might find it hard to fit a session with that kind of intensity in between your daily routines.
If your goal is to lose weight, or you’re just starting to work out, micro workouts are amazing!
Use them to ease your body into exercising. Moving throughout the day will help you steadily burn calories and build you up for tougher workouts down the road.
Bottom line: it depends on what your goals are, which exercise you’re doing, and how you set it up.
Don’t limit your micro workouts to traditional calisthenics and weightlifting. Get creative.
If you’re training MMA, try sets of five roundhouse kicks or one minute shadowboxing sessions throughout your day.
Yoga practitioners could do sets of 10 sun salutations, tennis players have forearm exercises and quarterbacks would benefit from elbow and shoulder stretches.
At the end of the day, micro workouts are about breaking free from the gym.
Work out from anywhere, any time, on your own terms.