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Even if you’re a regular gym junkie, there’s always those times when you just can’t make it in. (Even if your gym is in your basement.) But that doesn’t mean you have to let your schedule totally control you.
We found two ways to get in a meaningful workout in just 5 minutes, thanks to B.J. Gaddour, co-creator of the Men’s Health Body Battle.
While these routines provide a fast way to blast some calories and give you an effective dose of cardio training, the real benefit may be psychological. Research shows that when men skip a workout, there’s a 62 percent chance they’ll miss an exercise session the following week.
So use these 5-minute fixes to keep your streak intact—even if you don’t have time for your entire workout.
1. AMRAP Attack
Completing as many reps as possible (AMRAP) allows you to work within your own abilities and circumstances, says Gaddour. It’s a common technique, but in this case, you’ll choose just one exercise and perform it for the entire 5 minutes.
For example, if you’re full of energy but lacking in time, you can push yourself hard for a high-intensity 5-minute sweat fest. But if you’re drained from an ultra-busy day, you can back off on speed and intensity and focus on just getting the blood flowing and your muscles moving, he says.
Since the large, powerful muscles in your lower body burn the most calories when you work them, Gaddour recommends using a movement like the bodyweight squat or stepup.
It may sound weird to do 5 minutes of stepups. But compare imagine that you were climbing a high stadium steps for 5 minutes straight. You’re going to feel that, not only in your lungs, but also in your muscles.
Do it: Perform as many reps as you possibly can in 5 minutes, resting briefly only when you need it,” he says.
Want to take it up a notch? Try doing as many burpees—going from a pushup position to standing and back to a pushup position—as you can in 5 minutes. Your heart rate will go through the roof right away, says Gaddour.
2. Dirty 30-30
You can also choose a lower body exercise and an upper body exercises and alternate between them for the 5-minute time frame.
This allows your upper body to rest while your lower body works, and vice versa. The result: “You’ll be able to go harder during each exercise than you would if you worked the same muscle groups back-to-back,” says Gaddour, who recommends performing each exercise for 30 seconds.
Think about what that means: If you go back and forth for 5 minutes, you’ll do 5 sets of the upper body exercise and 5 sets of the lower body exercise. That’s 10 sets total. Compare that to what a typical gym goes does in 20 or 30 minutes. While it may not be equal to your usual training volume, it’s more than what many do in a regular workout—and it is meaningful.
Do it: Perform as many reps of the bodyweight squat as you can in 30 seconds. Without resting, perform as many reps of the pushup as you can in 30 seconds. Repeat, resting as little as possible for a total of 5 minutes.