When it comes to exercising, whether you're a novice or a seasoned workout veteran, there's a time and place for low-intensity training sessions. They're a great way to introduce yourself to training, start back up after a hiatus, decrease stress on a battle-worn body or boost recovery between higher-intensity sessions.
The best part about the following low-intensity, full-body workout is that it should only take 15 minutes to complete, meaning you can easily add it to your day — no excuses.
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This workout has four components: core, lower body, upper body and cardio; and each category has two exercises. Beginners, do each exercise in order for 20 seconds with 10 seconds of rest before switching to the next exercise. If you're more advanced, do 30 seconds of work and immediately switch to the next exercise. And if you fall in the middle, do 25 seconds of work with five seconds rest.
For single-sided exercises, do one side for 30 seconds and the other side for the next 30 seconds before switching exercises. Complete three rounds total of the 10 exercises to reach the 15-minute mark. And even though it's set up like a HIIT workout, take things slowly and focus on your form — not the number of reps.
Start this basic (but effective) core exercise in a standard push-up position. If you need more of a challenge, perform the plank on your forearms. You can also elevate the feet to a bench or box for an additional challenge. You should feel the work taking place in your core.
1. Assume a push-up position so that your hands are just beneath the shoulders and your feet are slightly wider than hip width.
2. Engage your core and keep your back from arching by pulling your belly button toward your ribcage. Your main focus is to prevent your hips from sagging and low back from arching.
2. Side Plank
Maintain your focus on using your core to keep your hips in position, preventing your lower back from arching and your hips from sagging. You should feel the work taking place in the obliques on your underside (side closest to the floor).
1. Start lying on your side so that your elbow is just beneath your shoulder and your forearm is flat on the ground.
2. Press into the floor as you bridge your hips toward the ceiling. Your body should be in a straight line from the ears to the ankles, and only your forearm and foot should be on the ground.
3. Barbell Hip Thrust
With this exercise, you should feel your core and glutes firing. If this version is too advanced, try a glute bridge instead to work the same muscles with lower impact.
1. With your upper back, shoulders and arms resting on a bench, roll a barbell over your legs so it's on your waist (you will likely want to use a pad under the barbell). Bend your knees so your ankles are just below your knees.
2. Keeping your abs engaged so the low back doesn't arch, lift your hips up to push into the bar, drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes as you bridge your hips toward the ceiling (your knees, hips and shoulders should be aligned so you should look like a table). Keep your abs engaged so your hips don't rotate, especially at the top position.
3. Lower your hips back to the floor, keeping your abs engaged the entire time. Drive through the heels to return to the bridge position, holding for a two-second count.
4. Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
Single-leg work is great for balancing out the strength on both sides of your body so one side isn't compensating for the other. You should feel this deadlift variation target your core and the hamstrings and glutes of the standing leg.
1. Holding a pair of dumbbells, take a hip-width stance. Engage your abs to keep your low back from arching as you lift one foot, keeping your hips level and the weight from shifting.
2. Next, bend at the hips, keeping the back flat as you reach back with the lifted leg. Keep the knee of the standing leg soft and the hips parallel to the ground. Keep the hip of the back leg from rotating toward the ceiling.
3. Drive through your standing leg heel as you squeeze the glutes and return to the standing position.
There are a wide variety of push-up variations to choose from. If you can't complete a standard push-up without your hips sagging, elevate your hands to a bench. On the other hand, if the push-up isn't challenging enough, elevate the feet to a bench.
1. Begin on all fours then press up with your hands beneath your shoulders, feet and hands supporting your weight and your abs engaged. Keep the upper back from rounding.
2. Lower your chest toward the floor so that your elbows are at a 45-degree angle to the body.
3. Hold the bottom position for a quick second, making sure your elbows do not extend above the body. Keep a wide chest, preventing the shoulder blades from tipping forward.
4. Press yourself away from the ground and return to the top position.
Read more: The 30-Day Push-Up Challenge
6. Alternating One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Working only on arm at a time forces you to focus on that arm, building strength and perfecting your form. You should feel the work taking place in the core, chest and shoulder of the supporting arm and upper back.
1. Bend forward at a 45-degree angle, holding a dumbbell in each hand using a neutral grip (knuckles facing in toward your body). Keeping the lower back from arching and upper back from rounding (the back should be relatively flat).
2. Keep your abs engaged so that your body does not move as you row the dumbbell, focusing on initiating the row with the upper-back muscles, pulling the shoulder blade across your back.
3. Keep a wide chest, and don't allow the elbow to pass above the back, which would cause the shoulder blade to tip forward. Slowly lower the dumbbell and alternate sides for the prescribed time.
7. Mountain Climber
Your ultimate goal in this conditioning exercise is to keep your upper body from moving, only driving the knees, as you increase your heart rate and core engagement.
1. From a push-up position, keep your abs engaged to prevent your low back from arching and hips from sagging or rotating. Focus on relaxing your upper back as you push into the floor through your hands. You should be flat from your shoulders to you ankles.
2. Drive one knee toward your chest, stopping when the knee is right below your hip.
3. Quickly drive the knee back as you simultaneously bring the other knee forward.
4. Continue to switch the knees quickly (you should feel as if you are running in the push-up position).
8. Bear Crawl
Unleash your inner animal with this exercise. It makes a great warm-up, cooldown or conditioning exercise, depending on your speed. You should feel the work taking place in your core, shoulders and legs. Keep the crawl slow and controlled to increase you heart rate as you work on your metabolic conditioning.
1. Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
2. Elevate your knees off the ground by pushing through your hands and toes.
3. Keep the abs engaged and back flat (you should look like a table) as you reach forward with one hand and simultaneously bring the opposite knee forward.
4. Repeat to the other side to crawl forward as you focus on keeping your back flat and hips from rotating.