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The 10 Minute Workout


 Who is it for?

One of the largest obstacles people face when it comes to exercise is fitting it into their busy lifestyle. People believe that if they do not have an hour to spend on exercise, they won’t receive any benefits. But this is clearly not the case. Everyone has 10 minutes in their day, whether it means waking up 10 minutes earlier or going to bed 10 minutes later. If you have any significant medical or orthopedic issues, you should be cautious with this type of protocol. Regardless, I recommend checking with your practitioner before incorporating this into your exercise program. If you are part of the population that has difficulty fitting exercise into your lifestyle, this blog will serve you well.



The 10 minute workout doesn’t mean a 10 minute stroll in the park. Due to the short duration of this type of workout, we must keep the intensity at maximal levels. Research of the last decade has shown that shorter duration/higher intensity workouts provide the same if not better cardiovascular adaptations as longer duration/moderate intensity exercise. The real benefits of this type of training occur after exercise.

EPOC (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) aka the “afterburn” effect is much greater following a higher intensity workout than lower intensity-longer duration exercise. During EPOC we uptake much more oxygen to replace our oxygen deficit that we experienced during training. In order to do this we need to utilize calories. If EPOC is higher after a higher intensity workout, then we are utilizing more calories bringing our bodies back to homeostasis…cleverly coined as the “afterburn” effect.

Research has also shown higher levels of growth hormone during and post exercise. Increased levels of growth hormone have been shown to increase fat metabolism. On top of the cardiovascular health benefits, higher intensity training has been shown to have a better impact on body fat reduction.



At AFS we like to measure intensity with RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). This scale ranges from 1 (sitting on the couch) to 10 (can’t perform another rep/second of exercise). During this type of workout, the RPE of the individual should be hovering at 9-10 for the total duration. Intensity is relative to the individual, meaning “Sally” may be able perform 45 seconds of maximal work with an RPE of 10, while “Jerry” may only be able to perform 15 seconds of maximal work with an RPE of 10.



Sticking to compound exercises that utilize maximal amounts of muscle mass will increase the mechanisms stated above. Movements like squats, rows and presses are essentials in these types of workouts. If you’re working at the right intensity, you should not be able to complete this workout without stopping for breaks. You should feel an extreme increase in your heart rate and breathing rate.


Time Frame 10 Minutes:

  • 3-5 Exercises
  • 8-10 Reps/exercise
  • Repeat for as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.
  • Take breaks when absolutely necessary.


Example Workout:

  • 5 minute warmup (walking/elliptical/bike)
  • Exercise 1: Bodyweight Squats 8-10 reps
  • Exercise 2: Pushups 8-10 reps
  • Exercise 3: DB Bent Over Row 8-10 reps
  • Exercise 4: Bodyweight Reverse Lunge 8-10 reps
  • Repeat for 10 minutes taking breaks only when necessary.
  • 5 minute cool-down (walking/elliptical/bike)


Take Home Message

This protocol is beneficial for those who lack the time to allow for a standard exercise program. Obviously some form of exercise is better than none. If you’re able to meet our requirement of at least 3-4 hours/week of structured exercise, continue with that and only use this protocol to supplement with, not substitute.   A good message to take home from this blog is that increasing the intensity of your workout can provide more benefits than increasing the duration in regards to body composition and aerobic capacity. Everyone has different levels of intensity. If you’re working at your full capacity and push yourself, you will see benefits from this type of training. Talk with your fitness practitioner to see if this type of training is right for you.

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