6 Awesomely-Effective Workouts That Only Take 30 Minutes

Have a half hour to work out? These workouts guarantee results.

In a perfect world, you always have time to complete your full workout. And you have a billions dollars and own a private island.

Unfortunately, life isn't perfect and things don't always go how we plan or imagine.


In a perfect world, you always have time to complete your full workout. And you have a billions dollars and own a private island.

Unfortunately, life isn't perfect and things don't always go how we plan or imagine.

Most workouts take about an hour to complete. But with a busy schedule, it can be difficult to make time for all your trips to the weight room.

So what should you do when time runs short? Skip the workout?

Absolutely not!

Just because you're short on time doesn't mean you need to skip a workout. In fact, you can do an awesome workout in 30 minutes or less.

To help you plan ahead and make the most out of your next abbreviated training session, we compiled six of our favorite 30-minute (or less) workouts, categorized by training goals.

Remember to perform a dynamic warm-up before each of these routines.

RELATED: Burn Fat With This 18-Minute Workout

1. Metabolic Conditioning: The Hurricane


Developed by Martin Rooney of Training for Warriors, Hurricane workouts are one of my personal favorite ways to go ham and cram as much into as little time as possible.

A Hurricane allows you to build muscle, burn fat and improve your conditioning simultaneously. The structure includes an exercise designed to elevate your heart rate followed by two strength exercises, repeated in three circuits of three sets.

A workout might look something like this:

Perform each round three times with 30 seconds of rest between sets, and one minute between rounds.

Circuit 1

  • Sprint or Jump Rope x 30 seconds
  • Push-Ups x 12
  • Med Ball Slams x 12

Circuit 2

  • Sprint or Jump Rope x 30 seconds
  • Bodyweight Squats x 12
  • Med Ball Russian Twists x 12 each side

Circuit 3

  • Sprint or Jump Rope x 30 seconds
  • Inverted Rows x 12
  • Reverse Crunches x 12

2. General Strength: High-Rep, Single-Set Workouts


Strength and conditioning researcher Bret Contreras posted a quick workout on his Instagram, in which he did a single set of five exercises for a higher than normal number of reps.

The result is a time-efficient workout that is relatively similar to a normal session. Although you need to use a significantly lighter weight than max, the higher number of reps will torch your muscles and leave you fatigued in about 20 minutes.

Here's a sample workout based on the routine Contreras posted:

  • Squat variation - 1x20
  • Upper-body Press - 1x20
  • Deadlift variation - 1x20
  • Upper-body Row - 1x20
  • Glute-focused variation - 1x35

The beauty of this workout is its flexibility. You can perform nearly the same workout you would normally do when not in a time crunch by simply altering the sets and reps from the ones shown above. Make sure to perform each rep explosively and rest for 2 to 3 minutes between exercises.

3. Max Strength: Single Exercise Workouts

Bench Press

Deadlifts, Squats and Bench Presses are brutally effective because they challenge multiple muscle groups and your central nervous system with heavy loads.

They are the meat and potatoes of your workouts. In fact, some programs have you spending 20-30 minutes one of these lifts or a variation and backfill the workout with accessory work.

So if time is an issue, simply cut the accessory work. You might perform a few warm-up sets and five or so work sets with a few minutes of rest between them. Before you know it, you will be at 30 minutes on one exercise.

This allows you to continue developing strength in your primary lift, which is likely to provide the greatest challenge to your body.

That said, it's not advisable to only do a single exercise on a regular basis. The extra work that comes after your primary lift is important for developing a complete base of strength.

4. Aerobic Conditioning: Mobility Circuits

Lateral Lunge

Jogging is easy when you're in a time crunch. Simply set your watch and jog until the time runs out. There's not much to it.

However, jogging can beat up your body, and it's not that effective at improving conditioning unless you're a distance athlete.

Instead, try mobility conditioning circuits. I was introduced to this idea by Eric Cressey and Tony Bonvechio of Cressey Sports Performance.

Mobility conditioning circuits consist of exercises often found in a dynamic warm-up, which typically increase your heart rate while enhancing your range of motion and flexibility. Done in circuits with minimal rest, these exercises can form the foundation for hybrid mobility and aerobic conditioning workouts.

You get the best of both types of training in a 15-30 minute workout.

Here's a sample workout you can try:

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds without rest. Repeat each exercise pair 3-6 times. Work at 50 to 60 percent of your max effort (5 or 6 out of 10 on the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale).

  • 1a) Single-Leg Reach
  • 1b) Supine Shoulder Slides
  • 2a) Lateral Lunges
  • 2b) Dead Bug
  • 3a) Walking Leg Cradle
  • 3b) Upper Clams
  • 4a) Grainer
  • 4b) Straight-Leg March
  • 5a) Bodyweight Overhead Squat
  • 5b) Bird Dog

5. Work Capacity: Density Training


Density training is an ideal form of workout when you only have a limited amount of time. Why? You know exactly how long the workouts will take.

Density workouts include circuits of exercises for time. The circuit might include four or five exercises, each with a prescribed number of reps. The goal is to get through the circuit as many times as possible in the prescribed time.

This improves strength and endurance, and increases work capacity. Greater work capacity means that you can do more work in a given amount of time—a critical skill for athletes.

Here's a workout taken from Drew Brees's off-season program, created by Todd Durkin:

Perform each circuit for eight minutes, completing as many sets as you can while resting only as needed.

Circuit 1

  • Med Ball Push-Ups - 15 + 10-sec. hold
  • Box Scissor Jumps - 20-30
  • TRX or Seated Rows - 12
  • Double- or Single-Leg RDL - 12 or 8 each leg

Circuit 2

  • Treadmill Sprints - 2x10-20 sec.
  • Supermans or Side-Ups - 15
  • Physioball or Ab Wheel Rollouts - 20-30 sec.

Circuit 3

  • Forward to Reverse Lunge - 20
  • Lat Pulldowns or Pull-Ups - 10
  • Overhead Tricep Extensions and Press - 10 each
  • Bicep Curls - 8-12

6. Beach Muscles: Arm Superset Dropset Workout

Tricep Pushdowns

Need to get a quick pump in before the weekend? This workout from strength coach Mason Woodruff is guaranteed to build bigger biceps and triceps in a hurry.

Perform the paired exercises consecutively with 30-45 seconds between sets. For the dropsets, decrease the weight after every 10 reps until you complete 40 consecutive reps per arm.

  • 1a) Push-Ups - 3x75% of your max reps
  • 1b) Underhand Cable Row - 3x10
  • 2a) Dumbbell Hammer Curl - 3x12 each arm
  • 2b) Tricep Pushdown - 3x12
  • 3) Single-Arm Cable Bicep Curl Dropset - 4x10 each arm
  • 4) Single-Arm Cable Tricep Extension Dropset - 4x10 each arm
  • 5) Lying Cable Curl - 3x15

RELATED: Can You Handle the 625-Rep Dumbbell Challenge?

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock