If You Only Have 30 Minutes To Work Out, What Should You Do?

There’s no such thing as a perfect 30-minute workout, and for that matter, there isn’t a perfect 45-minute, 60-minute or 90-minute one either. But the following are some starting points to help you find the best way to workout in 30 minutes.

By Caitlin Shaw3 min read

A common misconception in fitness is the longer the workout, the better. While it’s generally true that the more time you spend at the gym, the more calories you burn, there’s no golden workout length that you should abide by. It’s all about personal preference and what works best for your individual goals. In fact, excessively long workouts can cause overuse injuries and strain muscles. Plus, shorter workouts have their perks. If you have limited time at the gym, you’re less likely to allow yourself to take breaks and therefore maximize your gym time. And shorter workouts have greater potential to be higher intensity, i.e., more calories burned in a shorter amount of time. It’s more difficult to sustain high-intensity workouts if they’re long, so committing to a 30-minute (or less) routine can come with excellent benefits.

Every woman’s fitness goals will be different, but it’s important not to get obsessive with how long you’re spending in the gym. Rather than striving for higher minutes in the gym, you should be aiming to maximize your effort to make your workout as effective as possible. Try to allot enough time in your schedule to finish all the reps you need to achieve your goals, but don’t panic if your gym time gets cut short one day. The following workouts are all under 30 minutes and can be quite effective in helping you feel and look stronger.

Viral 12-3-30 Treadmill Trend – FREE (with treadmill access)

In 2021, Lauren Giraldo flaunted her weight loss on TikTok, crediting her achievement to her unique treadmill regimen. According to TODAY, Giraldo walked at a level 12 incline, at a speed of 3mph for 30 minutes about five times a week to shed 30 pounds. While it may sound easy, walking at a 12 percent incline for a half an hour will have you working hard – even if you’re used to intense cardio. Giraldo promotes this workout because she claims it helps make the gym “so much less of a scary place.”

Evie’s 28 App – FREE

It’s important to note that not every workout you do should be the same. This ensures that you’re working all of your muscles differently and that you continue to challenge yourself. Your gym regimen should change in intensity, activity, and length depending on the time of the month. As discussed in my four-part living in accordance with your infradian rhythm series, the female body has different needs throughout its hormone cycle. 

Evie’s 28 is one of the only free cycle-based workout apps on the market. Backed by science and led by some of the most talented fitness instructors out there (they regularly train real supermodels!), each workout serves a unique purpose in your cycle. One of the coolest things about 28 is that it explains why each workout is chosen for each phase and how it will help your body. That way, you're making the most of your energy levels so you know that your 30 minutes working out is well-spent. In the days leading up to and following ovulation, you’ll likely have more energy, so try a 27-minute aerobic fat burn cardio class or 16-minute Brazilian booty HIIT class. In the menstrual phase, your body’s hormones are depleted, leaving you with less energy than normal. Be kind to yourself with one of 28’s stretch and de-stress classes, or try a 25-minute restorative mat Pilates class. Most of the 28 workout classes are under 30 minutes, making them perfect if you need a quick workout, or you can stack several together to create a longer one. 

YouTube Workouts – FREE

There’s no shortage of female fitness videos on YouTube. In fact, searching “30 minute women’s workout” on YouTube can quickly become overwhelming. Try searching for specific workout instructors that you may know from social media, like Krissy Cela, Chloe Ting, or Natasha Océane. Many of them have different types of workouts under the “playlist” tab on their channels, from cardio and weight training to at-home ab workouts and pilates. 

Alo Moves – $20/month

Owned and operated by Alo Yoga clothing brand, Alo Moves is a great way to stay active if you only have a limited amount of time to workout. With the $20 monthly membership, you get unlimited access to a variety of yoga practices in different styles, as well as pilates and mindfulness courses. You can filter by type of exercise, intensity, and difficulty level to craft your perfect workout. 

SWEAT – $20/month

SWEAT is a platform created by a collection of female workout influencers, including Kayla Itsines, Monica Jones, Kelsey Wells, and more. They offer a variety of programs, from high to low intensity, depending on activity type. Most of the classes offered are around 30 minutes or less, making this a great option for those looking for a quick but effective workout.

SWEAT has several unique features that most other workout memberships don’t have, such as a community forum page where users can connect with one another and ask workout questions. Another is a planning tool that enables users to schedule workouts in advance. This helps users track their progress and reach their fitness goals better. SWEAT also has a blog that posts fitness-related content to inform its members of workout tips, healthy habits, and motivational insights. 

Closing Thoughts

Fitness experts cited by Insider claim that the best under-30-minute workout regimen consists of cardio and circuit-based strength training. The key is to get your heart rate up early on and keep it up for the entirety of the workout to get the most benefit. Even if it’s a low-intensity workout, maintaining a consistent heart rate above your resting rate is still a valuable workout. And no workout, whether short or long, is worthless. Moving your body in any capacity is something to be proud of. 

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