Even short-but-efficient workouts can help you reach your goals.
Between work, family responsibilities, and all the other urgent tasks that inevitably come up each day, finding time to exercise can feel impossible. But with hundreds of workouts under 20 minutes on Tonal, it’s easier to fit in a quick sweat session.
Benefits of Short Workouts
While these workouts are short on time, they’ll still get you results. “One study says you can maintain strength and muscle mass by doing as little as one-ninth the volume of what you were doing before,” says Josh Clay, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and Fitness Programming Specialist at Tonal. Older adults need a bit more (around one-third the volume, according to the same study) but can also maintain strength with relatively short workouts.
For experienced exercisers, these “workout snacks” ensure you won’t lose any of your hard-earned gains during the occasional week when you’re suddenly crammed with other time commitments. Beginners stand to benefit even more. Without an established fitness base, you can build muscle with these short sessions before moving up to longer ones.
Psychologically, doing a short workout reinforces your exercise habit by keeping that momentum going. “Something is always better than nothing,” says Tonal Coach Nicolette Amarillas. “You create consistency just by showing up.”
When To Do Short Workouts
There are a few options for slotting these workouts into your schedule. If you’re consistently short on time, fill the week with quick, muscle-building programs targeting a different body part each day. You can also get in a full body workout by doing two sessions—one upper and one lower—either stacked back to back or during separate breaks in the day. If you’re lifting heavy a few days per week, try supplementing with yoga or mobility on your off days for active recovery.
Read more about some of the most popular short workouts on Tonal and how they offer maximum results in minimal time. They’re broken down by goal and fitness level to help you find the perfect options for your routine.
Goal: Build Muscle
Upper Body: Quick Fit: Push, Pull, Burn – Coach Nikki (12 minutes)
When choosing a short workout, Coach Nicolette recommends looking for one with a high number of repetitions for each exercise. “Maybe you’re only doing two or three sets, but you’re getting a lot of volume in that short amount of time,” she says. Also, seek out a mix of push and pull exercises that hit the muscles from all angles. This beginner workout checks both boxes, with moves such as beginner-friendly incline pushups and seated rows in the 12-rep range.
Lower Body: Quick Fit: Power Glutes – Coach Pablo (12 minutes)
There’s no filler in this workout with Coach Pablo—just incredibly effective lower body exercises such as deadlifts and goblet squats, plus a round of squat jacks to elevate your heart rate.
Upper Body: Upper Body Blitz – Coach Trace (17 minutes)
With three sets of four moves, there’s not much time for rest in this workout. Coach Nicolette points out that the push and pull exercises create stability around the joints of the upper body while the quick tempo adds a cardio challenge.
Lower Body: Quick Fit: Amazing Legs – Coach Allison (12 minutes)
In this workout, you’ll improve your endurance, build muscle in the quads and calves, and knock out some cardio in the process. “I like that Coach Allison includes a standing calf raise,” says Coach Nicolette. “The calf raise is great for the anatomy of the legs in general, and for jumping and running.”
Upper Body: Quick Fit: Upper Body TKO – Coach Pablo (15 minutes)
Even though this workout is brief, it’s intense. Clay says it will “challenge your ability to maintain output under fatigue due to the longer time under tension—40 seconds per set.” Time under tension refers to the amount of time your muscle is under load or strain during an exercise. This higher range is ideal for endurance and hypertrophy.
Lower Body: Quick Fit For the Booty – Coach Nikki (15 minutes)
This session burns out the glutes through step-ups, bridges, and split squats. You’ll finish with an intense set of jump squats for a cardiovascular bonus. Because women have an enhanced ability to recover from high volume work compared to men, as demonstrated in this study, Clay says this an especially effective workout for female lifters who can bounce back quickly for another hard session the next day.
Goal: Get Lean
Quick Fit: Strong And Smart – Coach Nicolette (15 minutes)
With movements that are challenging yet accessible, this workout sets up new exercisers for success. “I wanted to be able to go over movement patterns and technique while making it truly for beginners,” says Coach Nicolette. You’ll build both strength and endurance by working in duration-based sets.
Full Body Burn Out – Coach Liz (19 minutes)
Coach Liz puts your glutes (the body’s largest muscle group) to work for efficient fat burning with compound moves such as squat to press and deadlift. “It finishes with conditioning moves, where you’re doing cardio under load,” says Coach Nicolette.
20 in 20: Ignite – Tony Horton (18-24 minutes)
The 20 workouts in this program led by fitness celebrity Tony Horton may be quick, but they’ll leave you feeling like you’ve been going for much longer. “Even though it’s only 20 minutes, you’re working one or two muscles multiple times, so you start to feel the burn and feel fatigue,” says Coach Nicolette. With new movements each day, the program is a good choice if you prefer novelty over repeating the same moves each week.
Quick Shred – Coach Nikki (14 minutes)
Advanced lifters will challenge themselves with big barbell moves like front squats and Romanian deadlifts. With 30 seconds of time under tension per set, it’s a chance to accumulate a lot of weight. “This is a workout that will give you high volume in a short amount of time,” says Coach Nicolette
Sweaty Shape-Up – Coach Woody (18 minutes)
Besides getting your heart rate up, this workout channels your inner athlete through plyometric moves that boost power and lateral (side-to-side) movements. “Moving in different planes of motion is really important for a well-rounded workout,” says Coach Nicolette, adding that all the moves are approachable for all levels.
Express Yoga – Coach Frances (16 minutes)
This yoga flow blends dynamic movements to build sweat and deep stretches for flexibility. Even if you’ve never done yoga before, you’ll be able to follow along and get a chance to practice focusing on your breathing.
Hip Mobility Clinic – Coach Liz (14 minutes)
If you spend most of your day sitting, you probably feel stiff and restricted in your hips. “Coach Liz focuses on activating the muscles around the hip to create stability, which then gives you more mobility,” says Coach Nicolette. Loosening up this chronically tight area can improve how you move in daily life and in your workouts. Clay explains, “You’ll also open up the groin which will be great if you have a difficult time squatting deep enough.”