You are here

Quickie Calorie Crushers: 15-Minute Cardio Workouts


Your Speedy Routine

Postpone stretching till bedtime. Static stretches — the kind you hold for about a minute — can actually sap your muscles' power output, according to Hendrickson. "Doing them before you hit the sack, as opposed to before you exercise, means you can make gains in flexibility as you relax," he says.

Slip in some toning. Choose five basic moves, such as push-ups, planks, squats, triceps dips, and lunges, that work your major muscles, then bang out a set of each whenever you can. For example, get out of bed, do 15 squats, then 15 more while getting dressed and another 15 while waiting for your coffee to brew.

Skip the cool-down. Studies show that when it comes to injury prevention and post-workout soreness, there's little to no benefit in doing a formal cool-down. Instead, a few minutes of easy walking — around the locker room, back to your office — should be enough, Hendrickson notes.

The Plan

Walk, run, or circuit-train — you can melt fat in 15 minutes, no matter which you choose, coach Benjamin Hendrickson says.

Treadmill Power Walk or Jog

Set the incline to 10 and push your pace by one mile per hour every minute until you break into a trot; take a 60-second breather at three miles per hour; and repeat.

Time (min) Speed (mph)
0 to 3 3.0
3 to 4 4.0
4 to 5 5.0
5 to 6 6.0
6 to 7 3.0
7 to 15 Repeat the sequence in minutes 3 to 7 twice more.
Calories burned: 98


Out-and-Back Run

Turn up the burn of your loop with negative splits, running the second half faster than the first, Hendrickson says.

Time (min) Activity
0 to 7 Run at a comfortable pace
7 to 8 1 Recovery walk
8 to 15 Head back to start, this time running at a higher speed. (The farther past the start you get by 15 minutes, the better.)
Calories burned: 161 (based on a 10-minute-mile/9-minute-mile pace split)


Do-Anywhere Session

30 seconds per move, resting 30 seconds between moves; work up to 55 seconds per move.

Push-ups → Wall sit (Bend your knees 90 degrees with your back against a wall, keeping knees over ankles.) → Plank → Squats → Mountain climbers → Walking lunges → Burpees
Calories burned:   110


Note: All calorie-burn estimates are based on a 140-pound woman.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2014