Yes, it’s important to hit all your muscles if your goal is functional, well-rounded strength. But doing a 10-minute arms and abs workout can be a smart choice on days when you’re super strapped for time.
In fact, the combo of arms and abs can make for an especially efficient routine. That’s because the split focus on separate muscle groups means one can be working while the other is resting. Then, you can swap without having to take a ton of down time, as you might have to do with a routine that hones in on just one area (like a legs workout, for instance). This allows you to get through your session quickly and accomplish a lot in a short period.
The arms and abs workout below, which certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, MA, a coach at Bodyspace Fitness and lecturer of exercise physiology at Brooklyn College, created for SELF, is a solid pick if you literally only have 10 minutes to exercise but still want to make the most of that time.
This five-move circuit starts with the bear crawl, a core stabilization move that will likely get your heart rate up, Jamison tells SELF. Then, you’ll do the bent-over row, which will activate your arms and back—and hopefully lower your heart rate just a little so you don’t fizzle out too fast, she explains. Up next is the Russian twist, a dynamic seated core exercise that will allow your back some time off after the row while challenging your obliques (the muscles on the sides of your torso). The following move, the alternating overhead press, will fire up your shoulders, chest, and triceps. And the final exercise, the side plank with reach, will ignite your core and give you a moment to take a few active breaths before jumping back into the bear crawl again, says Jamison.
Do this workout and you’ll get muscle endurance work as well as sneaky cardio. The latter aspect comes from the low rest (20 seconds) to high work (40 seconds) ratio, meaning you’ll be spending the majority of the time moving your body and very little time completely recovering, which will likely get you a little breathless. Additionally, the inclusion of intense, dynamic moves will further challenge your cardiovascular system, says Jamison.
What’s more, you can tweak the speed at which you perform the exercises to achieve different goals: If you want to emphasize cardio, then go at a fast pace (just make sure your form stays on point). If you want to focus on muscular endurance, then slow things down. It’s all up to you!
You can do this workout up to twice a week if you’re doing it as a standalone routine, or up to three times if you tack it onto another workout that hits other muscle groups, says Jamison. However you program it in, make sure to leave at least a day in between to give your muscles time to recover.