Is "8-Minute Abs!!" still a thing?
October 1, 2015 9:30 PM   Subscribe

I haven’t exercised regularly in a long time and am really out of shape. I think I can swing spending between 15-20 minutes exercising most mornings. (I know it’s not much, but I figure even 15 minutes is a lot better than the 0 minutes I currently do.) What activities/types of exercise should I try that can be done in that short amount of time?

My mornings are a little tight, but I think if I’m really organized and get my exercise clothes and my clothes for the rest of the day/all the other stuff I need for going to work out the night before and have a plan, I can squeeze in a mini-workout. Here are some things about me & my situation to inform your recommendations:

*My goal is better fitness. That said, while I do want to challenge myself somewhat, I have no interest in being in pain all day from working too hard. Also, focusing on weight loss isn’t an approach that works for me. I’d rather focus on cardiovascular health, strength building, flexibility, etc. But honestly, just doing any type of movement would be a victory at this point.

*I literally only have 15 to 20 minutes. That means, for example, the one minute it takes to boot up the xbox and put in a DVD and press play has to be subtracted from the actual workout time.

*I feel like having a variety of workout options to test out would be good.

* Once a week I typically go in 30 minutes later than usual, so I could have one day a week with a longer workout.

* No/minimal financial investment would be helpful, but I could buy new shoes or an exercise ball or whatever. (Just not, like, a NordicTrack. Although that would be cool. But in addition to not wanting to spend a ton of money, I don’t have a lot of space.) I have some stuff like a yoga mat & props, a bike that I’ve owned for ~10 years and NEVER ridden, shoes, etc.

*I live in a mild climate and can go outside, although I’m not super wild about public exercise.

*Fun would be good? I don’t really like exercise usually. :(

I’d appreciate help with both suggestions for short workouts and also planning out a week’s worth in a way that would be smart/effective. Oh, also, I'm a woman in my mid-30s with large breasts and I hate bras and especially sports bras. Sports bras(/discomfort from breast bounce) are among my most challenging barriers to exercise.
posted by pupstocks to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
The classic "I want to get a workout but I don't have much time" routine is Tabata/HIIT. It's more a genre than a specific workout, but if you google HIIT workouts you'll find a bunch and you can pick one that fits your fitness level and goals.

Note that HIIT is super effective - you can get a full workout in about 15 minutes - but the trade off is that it's one of the most unpleasant things in the universe. You need to be hella motivated to make it work.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:37 PM on October 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

If you have a smart phone, you can download the Sworkit app (the free version is perfectly fine) and make routines as long or short as you like, involving whatever body parts you want (that are yours, at least). You can make your own routines or use the ones provided.
posted by rtha at 9:44 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry to threadsit, but just wanted to jump back in to clarify something -- I'm not really trying to squeeze 60 minutes worth of working out into 15 minutes. I just want to move my body, hopefully enjoy some health benefits, and have the whole thing be mostly a pleasant experience that's a nice thing I do for myself. If it's one of the most unpleasant things in the UNIVERSE, I don't think I'm really going to keep up with it. HIIT is a really good suggestion for someone who isn't lazy and unmotivated like me :)

I was thinking more along the lines of suggestions for good DVDs or audio or app workout routines that 1) would fit in the amount of time I have and 2) are suitable for a born-again beginner exerciser. Sorry I wasn't more clear in my original Q!
posted by pupstocks at 9:47 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like You can pick yoga or Pilates or core strength, and they all are all tagged for time - some are 10-20 minutes.
posted by zutalors! at 9:53 PM on October 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also blogilates by Cassey Ho- she has kicked my ass in only seven or so minutes.lots of short workouts. If you don't want your ass so thoroughly kicked though, she does have more beginner options
posted by zutalors! at 9:54 PM on October 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

This video full of hilarity based on this "Scientific 7-minute Workout" works for me. I modify the crap out of it (mostly in the push up stuff - I just do wall pushups most of the time) but it's fast and if you commit while you're doing it, you will REALLY feel it the next day or so.
posted by primalux at 10:09 PM on October 1, 2015 [15 favorites]

Isn't the 7 minute work out a thing? I think there is an app too.

Otherwise jump rope.
posted by Toddles at 10:10 PM on October 1, 2015

I managed to get my post-baby abs tight after weightloss by rolling around on an exercise ball morning and evening. It was easy to do and I'd keep going till it started to hurt, and then I'd stop. After about three weeks I could see results. Note that if you still need to lose fat you'll want to change what and how much you eat. Lo-carb and skipping meals when not hungry works for me.
posted by Dragonness at 10:16 PM on October 1, 2015

Yoga yoga yoga. I recommend the 30 days of yoga youtube series (or other videos by Yoga with Adriene).
posted by melissasaurus at 10:49 PM on October 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

I can't believe shovelglove slipped of the radar as quickly as it did. Physique like a field peasant in 14 minutes a day!
posted by bendy at 12:33 AM on October 2, 2015 [9 favorites]

Sworkit as mentioned above. It's a guided workout. Do the full-body stretch for ten minutes a day. Skip the exercises you don't like with the fast-forward button. Set it to give you 3 seconds between changing exercises. I am in terrible shape so the getting up and down off the floor is plenty of exercise and I felt significantly more limber in about two weeks. Panties and bra is more than enough exercise clothes in your own house. Also, secret tip, set the alarm five minutes earlier to unlock five minutes more exercise time in the mornings!
posted by Iteki at 12:55 AM on October 2, 2015

if you want aerobic exercise (ie to feel a bit more fit, but not to do anything much to your upper body) you could ride that bike for 15-20m. riding a bike doesn't bounce boobs around much (as far as i can tell from disinterested scientific observation).

you could take it in to a local bike shop for a quick check-up, but if it's just been sitting there it likely doesn't need much work apart from oiling, pumping up the tyres (or new tubes), and maybe adjusting the gears / brakes a little.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:48 AM on October 2, 2015

If there's any music that makes you want to move, just putting it on and dancing for 10 minutes is definitely a start.

Similarly, getting out of the house 15-20 minutes earlier and just walking around before going to work (or walking part of the way if that's an option). Listening to music can actually make it very pleasant and hopefully help with any self-consciousness.
posted by egg drop at 3:51 AM on October 2, 2015

FWIW I sort of do this with a stationary bike (usually multitasking with reading a book / catching up on my morning MeFi), though 15 minutes is probably on the low end. I'm guessing your bike isn't stationary, but I think there's a sort of stand you can put it on to use it this way - probably not the answer to 100% of your exercise needs, but a very workable option requiring very low motivation.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:52 AM on October 2, 2015

I second Blogilates! Her YouTube videos are short but they can really kick your butt.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:14 AM on October 2, 2015

A nurse-dietician recommended Walk Away the Pounds to me. I have the Ultimate Collection, which has 4 workouts, ranging from 1 mile to 4 miles.

It's not as intimidating as some of the other DVD's I have, and super easy to do in the mornings. Basically, you walk in place, then step side-to-side, some arm movements and kickbacks, and it comes with a thin stretchy band, which is used in some of the workouts. Mile 1 uses some handweight balls, but I either forgo weights or use a pair of 1-2 lb. dumbbells that I picked up cheaply at a big box store.

The other thing I like about this DVD is that there are all body types and ages.

The 1-mile is obviously the shortest, and once you've conquered that, you can move to the 2-mile and stop at 20 minutes (they increase with intensity and there are obvious stopping points, so doing a 1-mile walk on the 2-mile section will give you a bigger workout than the first one, which is good for gentle starting out when you haven't been doing anything).

On your longer day, complete the 2-mile walk or go to the 3-mile walk and push yourself (think that one is about 30 minutes, but again, you can stop at any time when they segue into another section).

For fun, after you get the walking routine in place (and it's not just walking, there are other moves for flexibility and core strength), try a bellydancing video. I don't have one in mind, but did take a bellydancing class once, and it's a really good workout. Or any of the dance-related exercise DVD's.

The walking video *is* kind of cheesy and can be boring, but it's one I actually use. The ones with the uber-complicated foot movements in 2-seconds, which you can barely comprehend before they go onto the next move, well, stumbling over my feet in the morning and glaring at someone who is a size 2 while her helpful size 0 friend is joining in to try and teach me complicated Twister, is not my idea of fun, and those videos are in a box somewhere.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:13 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing walk. Just walk for your 15 to 20 minutes if you're just getting started. Maybe mix in some of the suggested workout videos on days where the weather is bad. You could mix in bursts of jogging as you're more fit and happen to feel motivated that day
posted by Kalmya at 7:03 AM on October 2, 2015

Just go for a walk. Don't give any time up to equipment or routines or anything. Walk as much as you can every single day. After a few weeks, grab some dumbbells and carry them around doing arm curls as you walk. Climb stairs, climb hills, keep your pace going.

All of these other suggestions are fantastic. HIIT is indeed a great thing to do, but if you start with that 3x/week, you'll burn out in no time, because it will suck. So before you do anything else, set yourself the habit of starting out your day with a little bit of physical activity. Give it two months, then reevaluate. You can always add these other things if you want something a little different. Right now, start with setting a habit.
posted by disconnect at 7:12 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the great suggestions, everyone! Please keep them coming! They're all super helpful.

I actually do walk to work already -- it's about a 10-minute walk. However, I may start riding that bike instead because it would be faster! I could potentially break into a run if I go for a walk in my 15-20 min workout time. That's so bouncy though, ugh!
posted by pupstocks at 7:58 AM on October 2, 2015

You should be able to run a mile in 15 minutes and still have a few minutes for cooldown. Sometimes, if it's dry outside and I'm feeling like switching it up, I'll go inline skating instead of running. It's more fun.

Other things I do for my quick morning workouts are jumping rope and calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, the old gym class stuff). Calisthenics are especially nice because you just feel more fit afterward.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:42 AM on October 2, 2015

Honestly, I think the answer might actually just be get a good (expensive) sports bra with an underwire. I am very large breasted as well (like letters bigger than d) and I was able to start running with a good bra. Speciality bra stores should carry good ones in your size. And running is really good for you, efficient, and not so so difficult to do for 10-15 minutes at a time.
posted by likeatoaster at 9:17 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

FitStar offers daily workouts as short as 7-8 minutes, or up in the 15-20 minute range. It's available online and as an iOS app. There's a "personal trainer" version as well as yoga. You can get access to a limited number of workouts each week for free and the premium version is $30/year.
posted by kittydelsol at 10:35 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding the 7 minute workout (do it twice) then enjoy some stretches, you'll feel good. When I'm crunched for time I do a non-silly video of this workout and put on my own tunes. The goal is sweat and endorphins for me.

Also seconding getting a For Real sports bra. It will seriously make such a difference in your life. Moving Comfort has some good options--I particularly like the ones that clasp in the back like a "normal" bra so that getting them on and off isn't some form of shoulder torture.

If you're bigger than an E cup, Enell and Donna Karan are good options.
posted by purple_bird at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2015

You need the Nike Training Club app. It has workouts from 7 to 45 minutes, total body or targeted, and most require very few props. The workouts are organized by goal (cardio, toning, strength, or focused) and fitness level. And, it's free!
posted by jshort at 12:24 PM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you're already walking to work then that's great - at least on some days (rest days?) you can just leave the house 20 minutes earlier and walk for half an hour. You don't have to run - just walking briskly can do a lot and half an hour is pretty different than 10 minutes.
posted by egg drop at 2:44 PM on October 2, 2015

On the bra thing, I wear a G-cup and the only sports bra I've found that manages to kind of control the bounce is this "last resort" Enell one. However, it's basically a choice between horrible, painful bounce or less painful bounce, but with the trade-off of having so much constriction it's hard to breathe. So... it's a barrier. I can try again though.

I like the efficiency of just leaving earlier and taking a "scenic route" on my walk to work, but I'm not super keen to arrive extra sweaty and also I'm usually carrying stuff. It's still something to experiment with maybe!

Thanks everyone for all the excellent suggestions. I'll start trying them out ASAP!
posted by pupstocks at 7:52 PM on October 2, 2015

What about leaving for work earlier to get to work early, and then leaving work the same number of minutes early at the end of the day, and taking the scenic route home? That way, you arrive home extra sweaty and just can hop into the shower. And if there's extra stuff you're bringing to work, surely you don't need to bring all of it home every single night, right?

My personal rule is that if I'm going home, and the place is only a couple of miles away, and I'm not in a hurry, and the neighborhood isn't dangerous, and the weather isn't heinous, I always walk. Because there's no reason not to get sweaty on the way home. And a walk is pretty much always nice.
posted by decathecting at 8:06 PM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

What about rowing? It's one of the better all-around, but low-impact exercises out there, per my research. You COULD spend a mint, or you can look into the Sunny rowing machine, which is sub $150. (I have no relationship with the company, but it's what I got, and it suits me.) I put on a sitcom and row for the 20 or so minutes it's on. I feel it in all my major muscle groups and my heart-rate gets up where it should be. I've definitely noticed a change in the course of under a month.
posted by thebrokedown at 7:50 AM on October 3, 2015

Adding: it's pretty small as far as real equipment goes
posted by thebrokedown at 7:51 AM on October 3, 2015

Lifehacker had an article on the most efficient exercise routine - 3x 20 minutes per week.
posted by getawaysticks at 12:25 PM on October 3, 2015

Selflink: If you're looking for something fun, try our 7 Minute Superhero Workout. It's based around the whole '7 Minute Workout' plan, but with a lot of variations. The app is a combination workout, game, and sci-fi adventure - your punches become laser blasts, you do crunches to charge your powersuit's generator, etc.
posted by adrianhon at 2:58 AM on October 4, 2015

Yeh P4P do it. I use their videos a lot. This one has both a man and a woman in it and it's for both/unisex.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 6:04 AM on October 4, 2015

Darebee! It's a nonprofit website run by trainers with individual workouts, challenges, etc. The thing that would be best for you is one of their programs. It tells you what to do each day, so you don't even have to think about it, and some of them take around 20 min or less per day. Seriously, this site is the only thing that has made me exercise regularly. Ever. It kind of changed my life.

I especially enjoyed 90 days of change as it could all be done indoors with no equipment, and didn't take much time each day. Good luck!!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 5:47 PM on October 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kettlebell swings are good. 15 minutes of kettlebells swings with minimal rest will pretty much sort you out. The recommendation for females is starting with an 8kg bell and working up to 16kg so hedge your bets and try a 10kg bell, I suspect you will find one of that configuration at a department store for a very low cost. Proper iron bells are better than the ones filled with sand (or whatever they're filled with) because the filling makes them very big and kind of stupid-looking. Once you have a 'bell look at a few vids on YouTube, particularly anything by Pavel Tsatsouline (Enter The Kettlebell, Simple & Sinister, etc.).

You don't need a huge amount of room to do them and can do them inside if you're super-careful, but until you are proficient and comfortable with kettlebells swings you would be better off doing them outside where nothing can get smashed to pieces.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:31 PM on October 8, 2015

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