A Quick Workout for Busy People (and anyone else!)

So you don’t have time to work out? Not even 15 minutes? I doubt that. I’m not calling you a liar. I’m only saying that if you just can’t seem to be able to fit in exercise daily, you should think about how you’re spending your down time. For example, you can put rice on the stove and do a quick exercise or workout routine or you can workout while you’re watching that TV show or football game you just can’t go into work the next day without seeing. Finding time to workout may seem like a serious challenge, but not every workout needs to be an hour long. They also don’t have to take place at the gym or on a track. If you believe that the time to exercise is scarce in your day, then it would help to rethink how a workout can look. I sure had to!

During my six months of teaching, I barely had time for anything else but grading and working on creating lesson plans and materials. On top of that, I was coaching soccer for the first few months so I was really pressed for time. Having a looming Philly marathon scheduled in November of that year helped motivate me to do anything active instead of just eat my stress away, which I absolutely did (gained at least 5 pounds during this time and not one of those five was from muscle! On soccer practice days (3 days a week) I would run and complete drills with the kids because I knew I wouldn’t have any time to run when I got home. On days I knew I had a lot of material to plan for the next day or for later that week, I included bouts of exercise during my prep breaks while in school (chairs are great for doing dips and who needs dumbbells when you can use the floor and do pushups!). Cardio suffered a great deal, as I was not willing to break a sweat during these quick exercise routines, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t if you wanted to! There are various ab workouts (e.g. mountain climbers and bicycle crunches) and aerobic routines such as jumping jacks–and various types of this classic exercise–that can definitely get your heart rate up in a short amount of time.

So without delay, a quick workout routine that will get that heart rate up (hope you have a shower at work! If you don’t sweat much then maybe baby wipes will be adequate):

15 Minute Workout*

*This workout involves quick transitions between exercises. Try to keep the amount of break time in between each exercise to what is included below. Ways to reduce or increase difficulty is to play around with the break time or the repetitions (e.g. 10 jumping jacks instead of 15, etc.)

20 jumping jacks

Do the first ten moderately and the remaining ten a bit quicker.

– 5-10 second break

High Knees: 15x = 1 set

Bring each leg/knee to waist height to create a 90 degree angle with your leg. Follow this order and stay on the front of your feer for quicker turnover: Left, Right, Left-HOLD, Right, Left, Right-HOLD, Left, Right, Left-HOLD. Each combination (e.g. Left, Right, Left-Hold) is 1 rep. Do 1 set then break before transition…

-5-10 second break

Bicycle crunches: Do 20; 10 touches to each knee

bicycle crunch

Lay flat on the ground facing up. With your hands behind your head, try to touch one elbow to opposite knee in a bicycle-pedaling motion similar to the illustration above.

-10 second break then roll over to…


5-15 push-ups; proper form is a must! Straight back, no arcing.

– 5-10 second break

Mountain climbers: 20-30x; 10-15 for each leg

Make sure you feel the crunch in your abs. You want to do mountain climbers with your core tightened.

-5-10 second break

6 Inch Abs

Laying on your back, place your hands behind your head (head should be resting on your hands) and keep your legs together. Feet to feet, raise your legs without bending the knees, approximately 6 inches above the ground and hold for 5-15 seconds and then lower them down to the ground. Repeat this 3-5 (if holding for 5 seconds, repeat 5 times; if holding for 15 or more seconds, repeat at least 3 times).

END OF ROUTINE:  Take 1 minute to 90 second break then repeat whole routine. Do this routine 3-5x or until you’ve been exercising for about 15-20 minutes.

Shoot! Now you’re hungry, but you don’t want to ruin your workout at the office. Right? 1) You don’t ruin workouts when you eat food. Please don’t think like this. Food is great and your body needs the nutrients. 2) I understand this kind of thinking, but if you can make mindful, healthy choices then you’ll be fine! What are some of these choices? Some options that I love after a quick workout like this or a quick 15 minute running workout are:

  • Nondairy yogurt with about a teaspoon of chia, hemp, or flax seeds mixed in


  • Banana with a few nuts or sunflower/pumpkin seeds
  • Carrots or celery and a tablespoon of nut butter (carrots and peanut butter?? I’ll just say: You’re welcome.)


  • Slice of bread/toast with thin layer of nut butter

Do you have another quick workout routine or exercise hackout that you’ve come up with? Share with us any comments you have!


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