Five Minute Total Body Workout

Pick moves that work multiple muscles.

Pick moves that work multiple muscles.

Five minutes isn't a lot of time to work out in -- most girls spend longer that that in the locker room before training. If five minutes is all you can spare, though, you've got to make the most of it. Working your whole body in each session is undoubtedly the best way to get maximum results from a condensed workout. You'd be surprised at just how much you get done in five minutes when you put your mind to it.

Muscles Worked

In theory, a total body workout could cover every muscle from your pecs to your popliteus and your glutes to your gracilis. However, there's no need to isolate every muscle. By picking the right moves, you hit all your major muscle groups and the minor ones, too. Choose two lower-body moves and two upper-body moves. One lower-body move should be quad-dominant, such as a squat, lunge or stepup, and one hip-dominant, such as deadlifts, glute bridges or kettlebell swings. For your upper body, pick pushups, shoulder presses, bench presses or dips for a pushing move and barbell, dumbbell or cable rows or chinups for a pulling exercise.


You've not got time to waste performing lots of sets of each exercise, so just do one set of each exercise with no rest between, advises trainer Jessica Smith of "Shape" magazine. Not only does this save time, it will give you a great cardio workout, as not resting will elevate your heart rate and have you huffing and puffing like you've just been for a run.


For this workout, high reps work best. The idea that high reps with a light weight tones and sculpts your muscles is completely false, according to strength coach Joe DeFranco. As you've not got time to warm up thoroughly with lighter weights within the five minutes, you don't want to go too heavy for fear of injury. Pick a weight that lets you do 12 to 20 challenging reps. If you finish the set and feel as if you could have done more, go heavier next workout. You should, however, add a five-minute aerobic warm-up and five minutes of light cardio plus stretching as a cool-down to prevent injury and aid recovery.

Sample Workout and Variations

Start with dumbbell lunges and perform 15 reps on each leg, then immediately grab a kettlebell and swing it 20 times, focusing on squeezing your hamstrings and glutes. After this, move on to pushups and complete 12 to 15 reps, dropping to your knees if you need to, or placing your feet on a bench to make them harder. Finish with 12 to 15 seated cable rows. For an interesting twist, try timing each exercise, so instead of shooting for a number of reps, complete 30 seconds on each, rest for a minute, then go again. You'll need to have all your equipment set up and ready to go to fit everything in in just five minutes. Check with your doctor before starting a workout routine, just to get the all clear.

About the Author

Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images