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Are Micro Workouts Effective? Here’s How ‘Exercise Snacks’ Stack Up

Get big results in a small amount of time with these bite-sized sweat sessions.

Michelle Tee working out on Tonal

Every minute counts when you’re crunched for time. With micro workouts, you can actually gain strength, lose body fat, and improve your overall health in 15 minutes or less. These “exercise snacks” are surprisingly effective for getting fit without spending hours working out. 

“Getting up and just being able to move for 10 or 15 minutes, is definitely effective,” says Jenna Moore, a certified strength and conditioning coach and Programming Specialist at Tonal. “It’s all about how you make use of your time.” She explains that squeezing in 2-3 short workouts per day is more effective than not working out at all. 

No matter how full your schedule is, you can likely make time for 10 minutes of lifting or cardio during the day. Here’s how those small workout bursts can add up to big results.

Are Micro Workouts Effective?

Micro workouts can be a game changer for busy people who don’t have time for a longer session. With just 10 minutes of exercise in between meetings or before picking the kids up at school, you can see results and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of a good workout.  

Recent research supports the effectiveness of micro workouts. In one study, participants who worked out for 10 minutes three times per day or 15 minutes twice a day saw equal improvements in fitness and reduction in body mass index as those who work out for 30 minutes once per day. 

Another study showed that participants saw marked increases in muscular strength and endurance after working out for 13 minutes three times per week for eight weeks. The benefits of micro workouts go beyond strength gains. These mini-workouts can also improve your overall health. According to a study published in the European Heart Journal, just 15-20 minutes of vigorous exercise per week was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. 

Tonal member Michelle Tee knows the power of mini workouts. In addition to being a mother of three, Tee is a graphic designer, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach. Since she works out at home on Tonal, she’s able to slot in micro workouts on her own schedule. “What I like most about Tonal is I’m not fixed to a gym block anymore. Now I can spread out my workouts throughout the day based on my chaotic life,” she says. “I can do a quick session in the morning knowing I can come back in the evening and finish.”

If the idea of an hour-long workout sounds intimidating, it’s also easier to get started and feel motivated when you know you only have 10 minutes of exercise ahead of you—and after 10 minutes you might feel great and want to keep going. That makes these micro workouts especially appealing to beginners or those returning to exercise after a long break.

How Should You Stack Micro Workouts for Best Results?

When you’re planning your workout routine, Moore recommends first considering how many days per week you’ll be able to exercise. 

“The fewer days that you’re going to work out, the more we need to squeeze into a short amount of time,” she says. “Make sure you’re getting a variety of muscle groups and movement patterns in so you maintain balance, symmetry, and resilience in your body.” 

If you can fit in a short workout 5 days per week, she suggests dedicating each day to a different body part, such as the legs, back, chest, arms, and core. On the other hand, if you can only fit in 2-3 short workouts per week, consider making both full-body days. Stacking multiple short workouts in one day works, too. In that case, Moore recommends combining sessions with different focuses: For example, a short upper-body, lower-body, and core workout, or a push workout, pull workout, and cardio session.

Micro Workouts on Tonal

Save even more time by doing your short workouts on Tonal from the convenience of home. Search “Quick Fit” on Tonal and you’ll find hundreds of workouts clocking in at 15 minutes or less, including full-body strength sessions, single-muscle-focused workouts, cardio bursts, mobility work, and more. Here are a few of Moore’s recent favorites.

Quick Fit: Upper-Body Power Endurance – Coach Joe Rodonis 

Quick Fit: Upper-Body Power Endurance - Coach Joe Rodonis 

With a giant set of moves targeting the chest, back, and arms, this advanced push-pull workout is a “whole upper-body destroyer,” according to Moore. Chains mode is activated in certain moves to emphasize the concentric portion of the lifts and encourage you to go for your maximum power output. 

Quick Fit: Quad Burner – Coach Kendall “Woody” Wood

Quick Fit: Quad Burner - Coach Kendall “Woody” Wood

For a lower-body fix, Moore likes this short session that’ll get your quads feeling the burn in minutes. The workout includes unilateral and bilateral squat and lunge variations to hit your legs from every angle. 

Quick Fit: Crunch-Free Core – Coach Ackeem Emmons

Quick Fit: Crunch-Free Core - Coach Ackeem Emmons

This 360-degree core workout builds a strong and stable midsection without a single crunch. It includes a mix of moves that’ll improve the functionality of your core muscles.