Get Fit in 30 Minutes a Week

Tight on time? Follow this no-equipment program that takes only 30 minutes per week!

Credit: Flickr/Andrew Freese

Use this quick workout program if you’re tight for time

One of the biggest excuses people have for not working out is they don’t have the time. But with only 30 minutes per week, you can accomplish a lot

If you’ve got a full schedule with work, kids, friends and whatever else is going in your life, then I have just the thing for you.

I recently read about a workout program used by John Berardi of Precision Nutrition that only took 32 minutes each week to get one of his clients in shape. I’ve added my own twist to the workout and nutrition guidelines, but they follow the same principles that Dr. Berardi used; short, simple and easy to follow.

Disclaimer: Check with your doctor before staring this exercise program, especially if you’ve been inactive for a while.

The 32-Minute Weekly Training Program

The training program consists of three workouts; two are strength training and one is a cardio interval program. The strength workouts take 10 minutes and the cardio program is six-minutes long. You’ll do two strength training workouts and two interval sessions each week for a grand total of 32 minutes of workout time. With the exercises I’ve chosen you don’t even need any equipment except a pair of running shoes and perhaps a yoga mat (though this isn’t required).

Each week you’ll work out one day then take the next day off and then work out again. You’ll alternate a strength workout with an interval workout during your exercise sessions.

So your week will look like this: Day 1 strength workout A, Day 2 off, Day 3 interval workout, Day 4 off, Day 5 strength workout B, Day 6 off, Day 7 interval workout. The workouts are described below.

The Nutrition Program

The nutrition program keeps in line with the short, simple and easy-to-follow guidelines of the workout program. Here’s what to do:

  • Eat four meals per day
  • Eat your meals slowly
  • With each meal include lean protein, lots of vegetables and/or fruits and legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc)
  • Cut out white, starchy carbs like rice, pasta, bread, cookies, etc.
  • Drink water, coffee or tea only
  • One day per week eat whatever you want. (Yes that means you can ignore the rules above. You can eat bread, pasta, cookies and drink wine. Just don’t eat a week’s worth of calories in one day.)

Strength Workout A

  • Pushups x 10 reps
  • Side lunges x 10 reps with each leg
  • Plank x 1 rep, hold for 30 seconds
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat 5 times

Each week try to make the workouts a bit harder. For pushups try a few full pushups if you’ve been doing them on your knees. For side lunges try doing a few more reps. For the plank, hold it five seconds longer each week.

Another way to make the workout harder is to decrease the rest between rounds. You may not get through all the reps in five rounds the first week or two. That’s okay. Just do what you can with good technique and seek to improve each week. (See exercise photos below.)

Strength Workout B

  • Forward lunge with rotation x 10 reps with each leg
  • Side plank x 1 each side, hold for 20 seconds
  • Pushups x 10 reps
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat 5 times

Just as with the other strength workout, each week try to make this harder by doing more reps, holding the side plank five seconds longer or decreasing the rest time between rounds.

Cardio Interval Program

You can use any piece of cardio exercise equipment you have access to such as a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical trainer or whatever. But the beauty of this program is you don’t need it. You can simply go outside and do a walk-run, skip rope inside, do jumping jacks or whatever to get your heart rate up.

We’ll gauge your intensity by the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale. For a full explanation of the RPE scale and interval training, read my previous post on interval training.

Your cardio workout will take six and a half minutes and looks like this:

  • Warm-up at RPE of 2-3 for two minutes
  • 15 seconds sprinting at RPE of 8-9
  • 15 seconds rest
  • Repeat 5 times
  • Cool-down at RPE of 2-3 for two minutes.

If you’re doing a run-walk, during the 15 seconds you’re going at a full-out sprint. Then stop and rest for 15 seconds. If you’re using a piece of cardio equipment, crank the intensity by upping the incline, speed or level so you’re working at an RPE of eight to nine.

If you’re already working out regularly and have for some time, this program may not be enough for you. But if you’ve been neglecting exercise and your nutrition, it’s a great place to start and will be useful for a long time.

Exercise Photos

Side lunge start

Side lunge end



Lunge with rotation start

Lunge with rotation end

Side Plank