Type "30 minute workout" into any search engine, and you are likely to be inundated with hundreds of thousands of hits. Well, actually it's more like 7.8 million on Google. It's difficult to sort through the noise to figure out what the most effective workouts would even be for that short window of time.
So, I went straight to the pros and asked fitness entrepreneurs what they themselves would do if they had 30 minutes to work out. After all, the people who have built their businesses upon fitness results would know what workouts are most effective for a short amount of time.
Here are the 30 minute workouts that the fitness business professionals themselves are doing:
1. Autumn Calabrese, celebrity fitness trainer and creator of the Kettlebell Leg Blaster Workout:
When I'm short on time for my workout I have a go-to style of training that I use to get maximum bang for my buck. It's cardio strength training or interval training. This is where you are performing basic exercises with weights, so not only do you get the benefits of weight training, you also get the benefits of cardio. The best part is you get it in in 30 minutes with maximum calorie burn. This is because you are keeping your heart rate up with the types of exercises and weights that you choose. It's not about crazy exercise moves; I perform simple moves like squats, lunges, curls and presses. The important thing is that you push yourself to YOUR max. Combine that with eating clean food in the right portion sizes and you are on the road to a healthy, fit body.
We travel all the time so it’s important to utilize every second in order to get the most out of our workout. Our goal is to get our heart rate up quickly and use every muscle! HIIT (high intensity interval training) is the best way to achieve this. It raises your heart rate, tones every part of your body and gets you sweating! We incorporate HIIT into our weekly workouts 2-3 times a week for the best results.
3. Natalie Jill, founder of Natalie Jill Fitness, author of the best selling 7 Day Jump Start.
Given 30 minutes, spend about 5 minutes warming up. I like to foam roll my quads to deactivate them and follow it with a dynamic hip flexor stretch. Then I like to activate my glutes with glute bridges. For the next 20 minutes I would do circuits of my bodyweight workout moves until failure. The workouts I would choose would be planks, push-ups, tricep dips, glute bridges, chin ups, and hamstring curls with a stability ball.
4. Tanya Becker, co-founder Physique 57
If I really need to get in a quick intense workout in 30 minutes, I do one of our 30 min cardio-focused videos. Our Physique 57 Cardio Burn or Cardio Blast Video On Demand will do the trick. Otherwise I do a series of scorpion push-ups, lunges with heavy weights, curtsy with lat pulldown and a little thigh dancing. A guaranteed heart-pumping sweatiest.
5. Lauren Gleisberg, fitness trainer and founder of LaurenGleisberg.com
30 minutes is more than enough time to get in an effective workout. I would opt for a weight training workout and perform compound movements like overhead squats, lunges with a bicep curl and deadlifts with an upright row. Compound movements recruit several muscle groups for a greater total calorie burn. To make the most of this time, I would take active rests in between sets to incorporate a cardiovascular component as well; this entails doing a light aerobic activity like jogging in place or doing jumping jacks to get the heart rate going. The combination of weights and cardio makes for one effective 30-minute workout!
6. Shannon Barbadian, co-founder of Defy Gravity Studio
I make sure I get in a workout five to six days a week. My go-to cardio is cycling – you really need a mix of resistance and speed to burn the max calories (no bouncing butt, EVER). But I make sure never to miss a Bodhi Class. Bodhi Suspension is the world's first 4-point suspension training that works with body weight resistance. For me, the Bodhi workout is the game changer. It combines cardio and strength training with intensive core work. With all the directional changes and challenges against gravity, it works my body in a way that I can’t get anywhere else. I call this workout the “Always Bikini Ready” workout. 30 minutes of either of these workouts (and on the off-chance you have 60 minutes, combining the two) will provide results.
7. Emma Jory, founder of ePilatesOnline
I love 30 min workouts as they are effective and achievable. I often start with stretches for the back, glutes and hips which helps the correct muscles activate when I start strengthening work. I always include back and glute work to open up my hips and chest, which helps reverse the effects of sitting. I include abdominal and arm work, as well as push ups to keep the upper body strength. This is an overall body workout that helps to also improve posture.
8. Stacy Berman, founder of The System by Stacy
If I only had 30 minutes to exercise I would do a sprint-ab routine:
- Start with a four minute warm up jog.
- Do eight circuits of a 30 second all out sprint followed by a 1.5 minute recovery jog.
- Finish off with planks, jackknives, flutter kicks and sit ups.
This workout is highly effective because it helps to burn lots of fat, spikes the metabolism, increases muscle and has antiaging benefits due to the hormone release when working at high intensity.
9. Joshua Schall, President J. Schall Consulting
I have run a fitness business consulting firm for the last 3.5 years in Denver and Austin. I live a busy lifestyle running a business that requires me to also "look the part" for fitness brands. My "go-to" workout if I have 30 minutes is doing the CrossFit workout Cindy which is an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workout, in which each round is 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, and 20 body weight squats. I usually will do that for 20-30 minutes and if I have any time, I will do some extra core work or stretching to relax.
10. Robin M. Gillespie, creator of "Bey Body Intervals©" for Allongée Studios
My 30 minute routine is a HIIT workout using kettle bell swings, jump rope, planks and push-ups. The kettle bell exercises and push-ups target the entire body and jump rope elevates the heart rate quickly, burning an extra 125 calories during the workout. Using a timer and my favorite playlist (right now anything by Prince) I do: Kettle bell swings for one minute, jump rope for one minute, 15 push-ups, then hold a plank during a one minute interval. Repeat this cycle ten times.
11. Darin Hulslander, owner and head nutritionist at DNS Performance
My favorite 30 minute go-to workout is an interval workout. The rules are simple, go 110% as hard as you can for 60 seconds, then rest for 2 minutes. Do this for 10 rounds, totaling 30 minutes. I like this workout because you can do it with anything (squats, sprints, rowing, elliptical, bike, or even burpees if you dare) and it’s extremely effective. You’ll burn more calories on this style of program than most. The 1:2 work to rest ratio is perfect for both beginners and seasoned workout vets as well.
12. Jennifer McCamish, owner of Dancers Shape
As a former Radio City Rockette and fitness entrepreneur, owner of Dancers Shape, a Pilates and barre studio in Austin, TX, I know that you don’t need (or necessarily have) an hour to get in an effective workout. Often running from class to class, or meetings and appointments, 30 minutes is all I need to fit in a full body workout that combines elements of barre and Pilates, burning calories and creating toned, defined muscles. Here are my top moves for when I'm running short on time:
- Plank with toe marches, leg pulses, and cat/knee pulls
- Thigh Dance with upper body twist
- Side kick kneeling
- Four-point kneel with rotation
- 100's: there is no better exercise to chisel the waistline than the classic Pilates 100's.
13. Beth Weinstein, founder of OnlyAtoms and endurance runner
One of the most effective and quick workouts I do in 30-minutes is go for a run with "Fartleks" added in.
Since everyone is a different speed, I speak about "perceived effort" on a scale of 1-10:
10 minutes: Warm Up - jog/run at a 4-6 effort (i.e. an easy run to the park)
10 minutes: Speed Intervals as follows
1 minute = run as fast as you can, at a 9-10 effort
30 seconds = slow to a 4-6 effort
2 minutes = run as fast as you can, 9-10 effort
30 seconds = slow to a 4-6 effort
3 minutes = run as fast as you can, 10 effort
45 seconds = slow to a 4-6 effort
2 minutes = run as fast as you can, 10 effort
10 minutes = Cool Down - slow to jog at a 5-6 effort (i.e. the run home)
You do not need to stretch beforehand, but a good idea to stretch after. To save time like I do, stretch in the shower when the conditioner is on your hair! (Yes, really...and your muscles are warmer too).
14. Jill Goldman, owner of the RITE Method Barre Studio
If I had 30 minutes to workout here is how I would spend them:
- 6 min of Plank: 2 min parallel and 2 min side plank (1 min each side) then to 1 min "moving plank" aka push-ups and finally 1 min reverse plank push-ups.
- 7 min of light weights for biceps, shoulders and triceps while doing plies in a wide second position.
- 6 min (3 min for each side) stretch in a high lunge including spinal twists, split stretch, and pigeon stretch.
- 6 min of abdominal work on the floor using light weights
- 2 min of seat exercises on my back raising my seat up and down
- 3 min final stretch (including hamstrings and spinal twist on both sides)
15. Stephen Box, founder Stephen Box Fitness & Nutrition
I actually do a lot of 30 minute or less workouts. My go to workouts are:
- Opposing supersets: chest/back, quads, hamstrings, biceps/triceps, shoulders/abs.
- Tabatas: 5 rounds, 1 min between rounds doing a mixture of body weight and strength training exercises.
- Interval wind sprints
16. Ruggero Loda, founder Running Shoes Guru
I am a solopreneur and have a family therefore I am always short on time. My workouts rarely are longer than 30 minutes (running excluded).
When I am at the gym (3x week) I alternate these 2 workouts that work my whole body, engage my core, and build my strength:
- Warmup: kettlebell swing, 3 sets of 12 repetitions
- Bench press: 3 sets of 5 repetitions
- Standing barbell rows: 3 sets of 5 repetitions
- Barbell squat: 3 sets of 5 repetitions
-Warmup: kettlebell swing, 3 sets of 12 repetitions
- Overhead press: 3 sets 5 repetitions
- Chinups: 3 sets 5 repetitions
- Deadlift: 1 set as many repetitions as I can, between 5-10
17. Jason Hervey, owner Tri-Train
The best thing about being a triathlete is having options especially when time is limited. Pool closed due to “fouling”? No problem, I’ve got running shoes. Too icy to run outside? The bike is set up on a trainer in the basement. Whatever you do, you should have clear focus and should always follow a structure: Warm Up, Main Set & Cool Down. Here is a quick 30 min run workout (including warm up), focusing on speed that you could take down first thing in the morning before the kids come looking for their Cheerios.
30 min run workout:
-2 min dynamic warm up: 10 leg swings per leg, 10 squats, 1 min jumping on the spot (like skipping without a rope — move legs forward, backward, side-to-side and alternating single leg to mix it up).
-Run 5 min easy build to “conversation pace.”
-10x 10 sec as a SPRINT with 50 sec recovery (slow down or walk) in between (this time will fly by).
-After the last recovery period, continue right into a 1km time trial (like a mini race with yourself)! If you’re wearing a GPS watch press “lap" at the beginning of your set — if you don’t have one try and go for approx. 5 mins at this sustained effort.
-The balance of this run is back to an easy “jog” or recovery pace to cool down until you get home.
The great thing about this workout is that you can measure your progress with the time trial over the weeks and months ahead. Now hit the showers and get to work!