So You Want to Workout... but only have 30 minutes

PLENTY of time. As always, ANYTHING is better than nothing. There is a definite way you can structure your workout that will give you the most bang for your buck if you only have 30 minutes.

The first and most important plan if you have 30 minutes is to have a plan. Before you enter the gym, you need to have a plan, and you need to stick to it. You have to ignore any distractions that may come your way.

How should you create a plan?

For a 30 minute session, you need to focus on major muscle groups, compound movements, and also use supersets or monster sets to keep your rest time to a minimum.

*Do not use isolation exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises. If you want to include those combine them with another exercise. *

Ex. Step Up with a bicep curl, squat to cable or band tricep extension, lunge with a lateral raise


Compound movements should be your main focus. These are exercises in which movement will come from more than one joint!  I believe compound movements are the most effective both for strength gain and fat loss.

Examples of Compound exercises are found in the chart below...



BB DB or Band Shoulder Press

BB DB Push Press

DB Arnold Press

Will also work triceps!


BB Bench (wide, normal, close grip)

DB or Band or Cable Chest Press(flat or incline)

Pushup (incline, military, decline)

Will also work anterior deltoid & triceps!


BB DB Band or Cable Row(single arm, bent over, seal)

Lat Pulldown

Inverted Row

Pull Up/Chin Up

T Bar Row

Will also work trapezius, biceps!

Hip Hinge

Deadlift (conventional, sumo, KB, Hex Bar)

BB or DB or KB stiff leg DL

BB or Band Goodmorning

KB Swing

Will also work erector spinae, lats, abs, trapezius, rhomboids, quadraceps!


BB Back Squat (high or low bar)

BB or DB Front Squat

DB or KB Goblet Squat

Lunge (walking, reverse, forward)

Step Up

Split Squat( Flat, Rear Foot Elevated, Front Foot Elevated)

Will also work erector spinae, abs, hamstrings!


Pair upper(shoulders, chest, back)/lower(hip hinge, squat), push(chest/squat/shoulder)/pull(back/hip hinge), strength/cardio exercises with each other so that you can move from exercise to the next without reaching muscle failure. You can use the chart above to superset of make a monster set. Pick an exercise from each category for a total body workout!

When crunched for time, use weights that are moderate for you, again to keep you moving and keep rest time to a minimum. Not only will this allow you to accomplish more but the faster pace will elevate your heart rate as well giving you the added cardiovascular benefit!

If you have trouble not getting distracted(like I do) and timing give each circuit a time limit. See example of a workout and timing below. As you become more fit you will be able to fit more into 30 minutes! The first time you try this workout you may only get through half, that is okay, just keep at it :).
Workout 30 minute total body:

Warm Up:

Jump Rope 45s

(10 body weight squats, 10 spidermans, 10 glute bridges)x2

Jump Rope 45s

(3  minutes)

A: 4 rounds, each round decrease squats by 5 reps, try to increase weight.

The last 2 reps should be challenging for each round.

20 goblet squats/15 goblet squats/10 goblet squats/5 goblet squat

10 pushups

X 4 total rounds

(5 minutes)


DB sumo squat 10 reps

Floor press  10 reps

Alternating renegade row 10 reps

Burpee 30s


(8 minutes)

C: Choose weight based on the limiting exercise. For instance for Reverse Lunge to Shoulder press pick a weight you can shoulder press.

Alternating Reverse Lunge to Shoulder Press 8e

Alternate DB Lateral Raise then a Bicep Curl (lat raise/curl/lat raise/curl)8e

Alternating Lateral Lunge to Upright Row 8e

Jump Rope 30s


(10 minutes)


  Plank 20s Superman 20s, Hollow Hold 20s x 2


If you read this and are thinking this is great information but I have no interest in planning my workout, check out my Online Memberships and never have to think about a workout again.


My final pro-tip, wear headphones :).

Meghan Scanlon