Samantha says : I am always talking about squeezing in a quick workout because it’s amazing how effective a short bout of strength or cardiovascular exercise can be.

My top three reasons for making time for a 10 minute workout:

1.  When I feel stressed, a 10 minute workout gives me an instant boost of energy and helps me refocus.

2.  Like everyone, I’m often rushing and I find a 10 minute workout is enough exercise to help me not feel guilty about missing my regular routine.

3.  10 minute workouts can deliver surprisingly effective results, quickly

It’s always better to do some exercise instead of no exercise. When you’re feeling busy and stressed, promise yourself that you’ll manage at least 10 minutes even if you can’t find time for a longer workout session.

A great way to truly benefit from a short session is to focus on one specific area of the body or one element of fitness such as strength, cardio or flexibility. Today, I’m going to share my favorite 10 minute cardiovascular routine with you.

My pre-cardio 2 minute warm up

Your warm up should always be dynamic: gently loosening off your body and slowly increasing your heart rate.

A 120 second warm up to ease into the core of your workout should be good enough but spend a little extra time on days that you feel especially tight. 

  • Circle your arms while marching on the spot for 30 seconds.
  • March with high knees while swinging your arms for 30 seconds.
  • Do 10 calf raises by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and rising up onto your toes, holding for a second, then lowering back down.
  • Do 10 squats by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed forward.  Sit back as if you are going to sit in a chair, hold for a second, then – leading with your hips – come back to standing.
  • Do 10 shallow lunges. A lunge is simply a step forward and then a step back with one leg. Put your hands on your hips, keep a nice straight back and take an exaggerated step forward, lowering your back knee toward the ground. Hold the lunge for 2 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
  • Jog in place for 30 seconds.

My 8 minute fat-blasting moves

One of the great things about cardio exercise is that there are so many effective, fun and simple exercises to choose from to give you a good full-body workout.  You can also work to make sure your heart rate is within its optimal fat burning zone during the cardio portion of this 10 minute workout. 

Below is a list of eight simple exercises that require no equipment.  Try to repeat each exercise for 30 seconds and then circle through all the exercises again.  I’ve alternated higher and lower impact exercises and you should aim for a work out intensity of around seven or eight out of ten to reap maximum benefits.

Alternatively, if you are new to exercise, try only doing the odd numbered exercises and going at a slightly slower pace.  Don’t ever push yourself so hard that you feel uncomfortable.

 1. Modified jumping jacks

Stand with both feet together and let your arms hang at your sides. Step one leg to the side, then return to the starting position. Repeat this movement on the other side. Continue alternating back and forth until you’re comfortable doing the leg movements at a steady, challenging pace. Then add the arm movements: swing your arms overhead when you step to the side, then swing your arms back to your sides when you bring your feet together.

2. Power jumping jacks

Stand with both feet together with your arms at your sides, then jump both feet out to the sides as you bring both arms up overhead to make a star shape.  Land with bent knees in a squat position, hold this position for two seconds, and then jump back to the starting position.

3. Running in place

Run on the spot, bringing your knees up in front of you and pumping your arms back and forth in rhythm with your legs.

4. All out sprint in place

Sprint in place as fast as you can. Keep your leg and arm movements fast and powerful.

5. Squats  

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed forward, then make a sitting back motion – as if you are going to sit in an imaginary chair.  Hold for a second, then leading with your hips, come back to standing. Be sure to keep a flat back, keep your chest high and really focus on sitting back to keep the pressure off your knees.

6. Burpees

A burpee is a powerful combination of a squat, push up and vertical jump.

Squat down on your haunches and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet out behind you to put yourself into a push-up position. In a controlled manner, lower your chest to the ground using your arms. Press back up to complete the push up and then pull your feet back in to return to the squat position. Finish the move by jumping up in the air while clapping overhead.

7. Side step 

This is like a dance step: start with both feet together and your arms loosely by your sides.  Step sideways to the left while leaning forward slightly, reaching your right hand across your body on a diagonal towards your left knee. Then tap your right foot behind your left.  Step back to the central starting position and repeat on the other side.

8. Speed skaters

Use the same movement you perfected during your side step repetitions but, instead of stepping, jump to each side and jump back. You should look like a speed skater alternating your arms and tying to get further sideways with each jump.

Don’t forget to repeat all the exercises twice.  Have fun and be creative – once you’ve got the hang of this routine you can swap in extra exercises you love and keep your 10 minute cardio workout fresh.

If you can do three 10 minute blasts throughout your day, you will have achieved the recommended amount of activity each day. The ACSM, American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people try to engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The great news is that studies have shown that accumulating that time throughout the day is as good as doing 30 minutes at a time.


Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife. ASCM is not affiliated with Herbalife or Samantha Clayton and has neither reviewed nor endorsed the content of the blog.