Everything You Need To Know About Microworkouts: Tips, Benefits, and More

If you're unable to find time for a full workout, try adding microworkouts to your life.

5 min read
Everything You Need To Know About Microworkouts: Tips, Benefits, and More
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What is a micro-workout and why should you consider including it in your life?

One of the most common challenges to maintaining a consistent workout routine is the time it takes and the commitment it requires. If you add busy work schedules, sleep requirements, and other life responsibilities it can seem almost impossible to squeeze in a fitness routine.

Enter the Microworkout

Microworkouts are brief bursts of intense activity that can be done in small 2-3 minute segments over the course of the day. Multiple small workouts or microworkouts can have a big impact on health, with studies pointing at improved cardiovascular and respiratory health.

That's the TL;DR on microworkouts. In this guide we're going to cover the benefits of microworkouts in some more detail, how you can start incorporating microworkouts into your life and some good examples of microworkout exercises.


The Advantages of Microworkouts


As their name suggests, microworkouts are extremely short and can last for anywhere from 2-6 minutes. This means you can throw in a microworkout while you brew your morning pot of coffee, or while you wait for a work update. The short time commitment is one of the biggest advantages of microworkouts.

When the workouts are short, you can squeeze in 2-3 microworkouts every day. Not having the time for a workout is a very real challenge to getting that exercise in. Microworkouts demolish this excuse by making you make the most of very little time every day.

The cumulative effect of multiple microworkouts can improve your cardiovascular health by as much as 43% as compared to being sedentary, according to this 2020 study.

We're of the firm belief that some activity is better than none.

(Photo: iStock)

This process also involves unlearning the idea that workouts need to be a certain length or done a certain way to "count" or "be effective".

Microworkouts are more effective than little to no activity. Long hours of sitting or inactivity can RAPIDLY lead to insulin resistance, unhealthy fat gain, raised blood pressure, and impaired heart function even in healthy individuals.

As little as 10 minutes of exercises in two five-minute sessions can help negate or minimize this impact on your health.



Microworkouts operate on the same principle as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

This means you'll be exerting yourself very intensely for short bursts of exercise. We've already written extensively about the benefits of HIIT in previous posts.

Short, intense bursts of exercise have been proven to improve cardiovascular and respiratory health more than longer low-intensity workouts.

The intensity of microworkouts squeezes the benefits of interval training into smaller timeframes.

(Photo: iStock)
The metabolic effects of HIIT exercise last longer, raising your metabolism for as long as 48 hours after your workout. The intensity of microworkouts squeezes the benefits of interval training into smaller timeframes.

Whether this is popping out a quick set of squats before breakfast, or doing one set of push-ups before lunch, we're firmly of the belief that some activity is better than none.

A sample microworkout would be 20 push-ups followed by 10 squats and 30 seconds of jogging on the spot. This could be done twice in a row to get the benefits of the workout.


Microworkouts allow for creativity when you plan your exercise.

(Photo: iStock)

The other amazing thing about keeping your workouts short and sweet, is that you can try many different styles of exercise.

You could opt for bodyweight exercises like push-ups, planks, or squats. Or you could even opt to do some barbell exercises, like deadlifts, weighted squats, or the bench press.

The freedom to do short workouts lets you try far more options than just the same routine you might stick to with a long workout routine. Be creative!

If you want to do a 1-minute plank one day and jumping jacks the next, nothing's going to stop you.

Get creative and have fun with your workouts. Examples include doing a 1-2 minute plank for one microworkout, and pushups or squats for the other, and maybe sprints for your third microworkout.

The Science Behind Microworkouts

Like we mentioned above, microworkouts operate on the same principle as HIIT workouts. Brief bouts of high-intensity exercise trigger a metabolic response more efficiently than prolonged low-intensity activity.

A 2017 study published in the Cell Metabolism journal found that 12 weeks of High Intensity Interval Training could reverse ageing on a cellular level. It also improves insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, and heart health.

The other reason microworkouts are effective is that they're much shorter than other conventional workouts. And to make sure you do them consistently, avoid overthinking them.

The longer you deliberate over whether you should work out, the more time you give yourself to create excuses to avoid it. Don't overthink it, and have a few simple workouts that you can do at any time. We've listed some that are very effective here.


Some Sample Microworkouts You Can Do

Here are three sample microworkouts that you can do anywhere.

  1. Pushups-Squats X3 - Three sets of 15-20 pushups and 10-15 squats back-to-back or performed until failure.

  2. Burpees-Lunges X3 - Three sets of 12-15 burpees and 12-15 lunges will put some serious burn in your hamstrings and calves.

  3. Plank for a minute and thirty seconds - Anyone who's done a plank knows how long a plank minute lasts (hint: it feels like a lifetime!) A minute and a half plank will not only strengthen your core, but also let you work up a good sweat.

Really the only limit is your imagination. Aim for compound exercises - exercises which target multiple muscle groups, and for the few minutes of your little workout, push them hard.

Try it and let us know how your microworkout experience went.

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Topics:  Exercise   workout 

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