Can 10-minute workouts really benefit your health and fitness? In a word, absolutely

Ten-minute workouts have been around for years, but their popularity soared when the pandemic forced people inside.

Ten-minute workouts have been around for years, but their popularity soared when the pandemic forced people inside. Photo: Getty

Chris Hemsworth, the almighty Thor actor, posted a workout video to his Instagram on Wednesday and it’s only 10 minutes long.

Ten-minute workout videos have been around for years, but their popularity soared when the pandemic forced people inside.

For beginners in lockdown, these videos were a chance to ease themselves into a fitness routine.


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A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth)

But, do they work?

Something is better than nothing

Put simply, consistency is key and it’s about quality over quantity. 

“We don’t want to put out the misconception that 10 minutes is the maximum you need, but we’re being realistic with what some of us have,” Adala Bolto, founder and CEO of ZADI Training, told The New Daily. 

“If you’re not able to do more than 10 minutes, then 10 minutes is still better than zero.” 

Flow Athletic director Ben Lucas said 10-minute workouts aren’t intimidating and that’s a huge plus.

They give people a chance to build confidence in their ability to do certain exercises.  

Compared to hour-long workouts, exercising for 10 minutes feels far more achievable and something that can be completed consistently. 

“Sixty minutes might get you more results, but if you’re not doing the work because you’re intimidated by it, then that just leads to zero results,” Mr Lucas said.

The right intensity

Given that we’re compromising on the length of the workout, Ms Bolto said 10-minute sessions can be effective as long as they’re done daily. 

Exercising at the right intensity can help you make the most of your workouts, too. 

And that’s when your heart rate comes into play.

Heart-rate training uses a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR) as a guide for intensity during training. 

“We know that 65 per cent of your maximum heart rate is more moderate intensity, while 75 per cent and over becomes a more high-intensity workout,” Ms Bolto said. 

“We want to dial that intensity up to 80 per cent.” 

It’s why HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) has been the ‘it’ workout over the past few years.

“High-intensity workouts are so popular because that’s where we burn more calories,” Ms Bolto said. 

HIIT workouts often combine short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity movement.

“Even after we stop, the fat burn keeps going.” 

This is because of the afterburn effect, otherwise known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). It refers to the increased level of oxygen your body absorbs to recover from working out. 

The oxygen helps repair muscles, balances hormones and restores blood oxygen levels. 

All that recovery takes energy, adding to your total calories burned. 

Set realistic expectations

It’s important to keep in mind that any exercise, no matter its length, is progressive. It’s going to take time.

Set realistic expectations of what kind of goals you can achieve after 10 minutes of exercise.

Sadly, just one video isn’t going to turn you into Chris Hemsworth overnight.

“But you can still work to your version of what 80 per cent of your maximum heart rate is,” Ms Bolto said.

For beginners, Mr Lucas said you should still take things slow – even if the workout is short.

Focus on consistency over intensity and remember to include a warm up and cool down.  

Once you’re confident in your ability, find ways to challenge yourself.

Increase the number of reps you do or the weight so you can become stronger over time. 

Mr Lucas recommended compound movements like squats, lunges and pushups, which work more than one muscle group at the same time. 

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