Exercises you can do in just nine minutes

Reviewed by Kristin McGee, CPT

Many people lead busy lives and feel like they do not have time to work out every day. If you feel this way, you may be interested in micro workouts. Micro workouts are short workouts that often involve high-intensity exercises. 

Despite the short duration of these exercises, they are not intended to be easy. Here we explore the reasons to do micro workouts, the benefits of micro workouts, and some sample exercises you can do in under 9 minutes. 

Why You Might Want to Do a Micro Workout

If you cannot do full workout sessions throughout the week, micro workouts could be the next best thing. Here are some reasons why you may want to consider incorporating micro workouts into your exercise routine.

Require Less of a Time Commitment

Committing to exercising for a certain amount of time per week can be difficult, especially when you encounter obstacles such as other time commitments, lack of motivation, and lack of energy. According to one study, the level of commitment to exercise directly relates to your motivation and how you react to obstacles and possible failure. Physical activity and health professionals struggle to create environments where people will remain physically active.1

Micro workouts are good alternatives if you do not have the time or motivation to work out for an extended period. It is a small time commitment, taking up only around 10 to 30 minutes of your day. Many people spend much longer scrolling through social media each day, so it should be a relatively easy time commitment.2

Make Scheduling Workouts Easier

It can be challenging to commit to the time needed to exercise every day, but it can also be hard to fit a workout into a tight schedule. However, a study suggests that fitting exercise into your schedule may be possible.

You just have to fit it into your routine. For example, walking your dog, using the stairs, parking farther away from a destination, or walking during your lunch break are all ways you can fit some exercise into your schedule.3

Help Reinforce Usual Workouts

Micro workouts do not have to be a replacement for longer workouts. Sometimes, a micro exercise routine is an excellent option for bolstering your usual workouts. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults need at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, preferably aerobic exercise.4

This means that if you do two separate 1 hour-long workout sessions per week, you are not meeting the suggested workout time per week. With 30 minutes left, it may not be worth it to go to the gym, especially if it is a far drive.

In this situation, a micro workout could be beneficial. You could do a 30-minute micro workout at home or even break it up into 10-minute workouts on 3 more days of the week. 

Benefits of Micro Workouts

Can a micro workout give the same benefits as longer, less frequent workout sessions? You may be wondering if micro workouts can sufficiently replace longer workouts and how micro workouts can benefit you. Here are some benefits. 

Improve Functional Strength

At a high intensity, micro workouts have the potential to increase your functional strength. According to OSR Physical Therapy, there are four necessary factors that make up functional strength training. These include coordination, muscle contractions, speed of movement, and range of motion.5

These four things make up a lot of basic functions carried out by the average adult. A study explored the effect of 6-minute micro sessions of multi-joint functional high-intensity interval training, also known as functional HIIT training.

After 4 weeks, the results showed an increase in functional strength. More specifically, there were improvements in performance in lateral jumping, sit-ups, and a 20-minute sprint.6

Boost Aerobic and Anaerobic Performance

A study focused on HIIT training found that micro workouts can improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness. The American College of Sports Medicine considers aerobic exercise to be maintainable, rhythmic, and includes the use of large muscle groups. Some examples of aerobic exercise would be cycling, dancing, or hiking.7

They define anaerobic exercise to be short duration and dependent on inhaled oxygen. Examples of anaerobic exercise would be sprinting, HIIT training, and lifting. While the authors noted that one micro workout was not as effective as a full workout, both showed improvement in these areas.8

Prevent Hypertension

A study on short bouts of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity found that short bouts of exercise help to prevent hypertension. This means that high-intensity micro workouts could help protect against high blood pressure.9

Your blood pressure changes throughout the day, but consistent high blood pressure can cause health problems. For example, hypertension can cause heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to a healthcare provider about ways to lower your blood pressure. If you plan to try micro workouts, ask about whether they will be effective for you.10

Sample 9-Minute Workouts

Wondering where to start? Here are a few 9-minute workouts suggested by Luke Zocchi, trainer and program director at Centr as well as personal trainer to Chris Hemsworth.

9-Minute Strength Workout

If you want to work on strength, it is simple to get in a quick, full body strength workout in just 9 minutes. Try performing this strength-focused 9-minute workout. Repeat the following steps every minute for 9 minutes.

9 Minute Ab Workout

You can boost your heart rate and strengthen your core with a 9-minute ab workout. Try performing this ab-focused 9-minute workout to tone your abs. Repeat the following steps every minute for 9 minutes.

9-Minute Cardio Workout

Most people assume that you need to do a long cardio workout to get any benefit. But there is evidence that even short cardio workouts done at a moderate to vigorous pace can have an impact.9 Try this 9-minute cardio workout. Do each of these steps nine times.

  • Use the exercise bike for 20 seconds on max effort and then take 40 seconds off.
  • Perform bodyweight burpees 30 seconds on 30 seconds off.

A Word From Verywell 

Always consult a healthcare provider before starting a workout routine, especially if you are over 50, have heart complications, or have any other concerns or health conditions. Listen to their advice and any additional information they have to offer. 

If you need help constructing a workout routine or need alternative ways to do certain exercises, you should consult a personal trainer about the safest and most effective manner for you to exercise. If you experience any pain or discomfort during exercise, talk to a healthcare provider for advice. 

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