7 Surprisingly Effective Workouts in 2 Minutes

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Some days, it seems like you only have a minute or two to actually fit anything in. Most of us feel like this isn’t enough to really do anything worthwhile as far as fitness goes. But the good news is that the habit of fitness, getting sweaty, or having your heart rate rise more than a couch potato is much more simple than most think. In fact, you may only need a couple minutes to make a difference in your fitness.

Can You Really Get Benefits from 2 Minute Workouts?

Two minute workouts? Can you really get an effective workout in only two minutes?

While I’ll agree that two minutes isn’t really enough time to get a full workout in, some wonderful changes can happen in the body by doing just two minutes of something, versus doing nothing at all. It’s also a great way to build a habit. By doing two minutes each and every day, you’re making at least some progress towards your fitness goals, and that’s better than zero minutes of nothing.

For each of these workouts, you will need a timer. Basically, you’re going to set a timer for two minutes and do as much work or as many reps as you can during that time. Most smartphones have timers, so you don’t necessarily need to buy something new.

For a quick challenge, choose one workout to do each day of the week. As you progress through the weeks, notice how many more reps of each move you can do during your two minutes as you get into better shape. Eventually, you may even work your way into a five minute workout each day—and beyond!

7 Super Quick Workouts

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When you’re really crunched for time, you don’t have to let even the busiest of weeks keep you from getting solid workouts. Try these seven super fast workouts to feel the burn without blowing up your schedule.

1. Squats

Perform as many squats as possible in two minutes.

  • Feet slightly turned out and shoulder width apart. Keep your weight towards the heels.
  • With a straight back, drive the hips back and then down, as if you were going to sit on the ground. The knees should track over the toes. They should not cave in towards each other. The hips will continue down until your “lap” is slanted towards the hip. Example: a marble placed on the top of your knee would roll back into your pelvis.
  • Hands can be in front for balance, and midsection firm and active.

Easier Option: Set up a chair behind you and squat until your butt hits the chair. In a perfect world, your but would just kiss the chair, and then you’d change direction and stand (instead of sitting all the way down). Do your best not to use your hands!

Challenging Option: Hold a weight (or backpack, or kid) in front of you, nice and tight, as you perform the squats

Reps to shoot for in the two minutes:

  • Beginner: 30-40 reps
  • Intermediate: 60-70 reps
  • Advanced: 100+ reps

2. Lunges

Using only walking lunges, cover as much distance as possible in two minutes. It’s okay to use knee pads, or find softer ground for this one. Be nice to your knees!

  • Keep feet shoulder width apart. Take a nice long step forward.
  • Bend the front knee, keeping the knee behind the toe, until the back (trailing) knee kisses the ground.
  • Push back up, through the heel to the standing position.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • Keep the chest up. The whole movement should happen with a relatively vertical back.

As a fun twist, lunge in one direction for one minute, and see if you can make it all the way back to your starting point before the two minutes is up, i.e. 40 meters out and 40 meters back.

Easier Option: Carry a walking stick so you can use your arms to help you stand from each lunge, or don’t quite go all the way to the ground with your lunges.

Challenging Option: Carry dumbbells (10 or 20 lbs each)

Distances to shoot for in the two minutes:

  • Beginner: 30-40 meters
  • Intermediate: 50-70 meters
  • Advanced: 100+ meters

3. Box Jumps

Perform as many box jumps as possible in two minutes. For this one, you will need something sturdy to jump on top of. In our gym, we have boxes built for this, but you can just as easily use a curb or a low bench that’s secured to the ground so it won’t wiggle. You could even use the first few sets of a set of stairs.

  • Feet hip width apart.
  • Jump with both feet onto the top of a box/bench/step, or anything else sturdy enough to hold your weight and impact.
  • Stand up to full extension while on top of the box.
  • Jump or step back down to the floor. Repeat for desired reps.

Easier Option: Perform “step-ups” instead of box jumps. Be sure to change legs after every step!

Challenging Option: Use a box that is as high as your hip bone.

Reps to shoot for in the two minutes:

  • Beginner: 20-30 reps
  • Intermediate: 50-60 reps
  • Advanced: 80+ reps

4. Bicycles

Perform as many bicycles as possible two minutes.

  • Lie on your back with hands behind your head.
  • Touch your right elbow to your left knee. Immediately switch, so your left elbow touches the right knee.
  • The knee that is NOT touching an elbow should be fully extended, so the leg is straight out.
  • In the above workout, you will do 60 reps, or 30 touches for each leg.

Easier Option: Put a pillow under your upper back to help you maintain position during the bicycles. And the touching of the knee to elbow is not required (though it should still be the goal!)

Challenging Option: Hold a weight behind your head for all of the bicycles.

Reps to shoot for in the two minutes:

  • Beginner: 30-45 reps
  • Intermediate: 70-90 reps
  • Advanced: 110+ reps

5. Push-Ups

Perform as many push-ups as you can in two minutes.

  • Standard push-up. Toes and hands on the ground.
  • Drop down until your chest touches the ground, return to the top.
  • Down and up is 1 rep.
  • If scaling and going from your knees, be sure your butt isn’t way up in the air. There should always be a straight line from shoulder to hip to knee to ankle.

Easier Option: Elevate the hands (so they are not on the ground) for the push-ups

Challenging Option: Make them “clapping push-ups” where you must explode off of the ground and clap your hands before descending into the next rep.

Reps to shoot for in the two minutes:

  • Beginner: 10-20 reps
  • Intermediate: 30-50 reps
  • Advanced: 80+ reps

6. Mountain Climbers

Perform as many mountain climbers as possible in two minutes.

  • Top of push-up position.
  • Bring one knee up towards the chest until it passes your elbows. Return to start.
  • Repeat other side. This is one “count” or “rep.”
  • Keep your back as horizontal as possible. Try not to hunch the back, or allow the hips to go up and down. You should maintain a plank position throughout.

Easier Option: Elevate the hands up onto a higher surface for the reps

Challenging Option: Put on ankle weights

Reps to shoot for in the two minutes:

  • Beginner: 30-45 reps
  • Intermediate: 70-90 reps
  • Advanced: 110+ reps

7. Burpees

Perform as many burpees as possible in two minutes

  • Standard clap overhead. From a standing position, place hands 18-24 inches in front of feet, kick both feet back, drop to push-up, jump feet back to start, stand and jump while clapping overhead.

Easier Option: Don’t do the push-up part of the burpee, it’s kind of like an “up-and-down” from American football. Alternatively, elevate the hands for the burpee (similar to the easier version of the push-up).

Challenging Option: Hang a target about 6 inches (15cm) above your standing reach. When you jump after each burpee, you must touch this target for the rep to count.

Reps to shoot for in the two minutes:

  • Beginner: 10-20 reps
  • Intermediate: 30-40 reps
  • Advanced: 50+ reps