May 26, 2024 4 min read

By Shane Robert

We all know that exercise is important and something that we should be doing more, but struggle to actually do it. Despite all of the time-saving technology available to us, it seems we are busier than ever. A lack of time is one of the most common reasons people list for not exercising. That’s people’s perception anyway, and as Lee Atwater says, perception is reality. Despite the ACTUAL reality that the average American spends a little over 2 hours a day on social media, people believe they don’t have enough time for exercise. Part of this is due to the mistaken impression that a good workout has to take a long time. Fortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Though it isn’t likely that you will become a world-class athlete (be it for strength, physique or endurance) with short training sessions, you can absolutely get stronger, build muscle, and increase your endurance. Below, I will outline a few ideas for 5 Minute Fitness that even the busiest person can find the time to do.


4 burpees
2 Cleans
1 Press
3 Front Squats 

The ABC complex is the brainchild of CoachDan John and traditionally uses 2 kettlebells. You can use 2 dumbbells and even a barbell would work. Though kettlebells are definitely the smoothest option. 

The ABC complex consists of 2 cleans, 1 double kettlebell press, and 3 front squats. I add 4 burpees at the start. Why 4? Besides the fact that they suck more than a Dyson, that’s how many were suggested by Royal Burpee, the inventor of the movement.

Set a timer for 5 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes. I was doing this complex leading up to a Muay Thai tournament and managed a PR of 13 rounds with 24kg bells in 5 minutes. 


8 sets, 8 reps, 15-20 seconds between sets

This is the infamous 8x8 workout from the Iron Guru, Vince Gironda. Pick a weight that is about 75% of your normal 8-rep max, or something that you can get for around 20 reps. This is best done with smaller exercises with no injury risk if failure occurs, or machines with safety features built in. Increase load once you can complete all 8x8 in the time frame.


This is a method that I read about years ago from a blogger named Paul Carter, which is a variation of the DC style of rest-pause training. I have modified it for shorter time commitments. 

Pick a weight that you can get at least 20 reps with. This is your working weight. 

Warm up by doing 1 set of 10 with 50% of that, with as little rest as possible (essentially the time it takes to change the weight), do a set of 5 with 75% of the working weight, then add the top weight. Now the goal is to get 50 total reps, spread over 3 sets with 45 seconds rest between reps, taking each set to failure. When you can get 50 reps or more over those 3 sets, increase the load.  


Alternating Jump Lunges x50 seconds
Jump Squats x50 seconds
Alternating Reverse Lunges x 50 seconds
Squats x50 seconds
Squat Holds x50 seconds

Pretty straightforward here. Do as many reps as possible in the allotted time, then move on to the next movement with minimal rest. After 5 minutes, your legs will be absolute toast and you still have 50 seconds to pull yourself off of the floor. 


This is an EMOM workout (every minute on the minute). Start a timer for 5 minutes. Do 30 kettlebell or dumbbell swings. Rest whatever amount of time remains in the minute. At the start of the next minute do another 30 swings. At the end of 5 minutes, you have done 150 swings. If that was too easy, increase the number of reps per set.


This is a push-up mechanical drop set where you are hitting 4 different failure points in a “set”, which is a VERY potent trigger for muscle growth. You can repeat for more than one set depending on how long it takes you to get through the first “set.”

Feet up stretch push-ups to failure
On the ground stretch push-ups to failure
Regular push-ups to failure
Incline push-ups to failure

A stretch push-up is an increased range of motion push-up. You can do this with chairs, dumbbells, books, whatever allows you to stretch through more range than a normal push-up does.


Run in place x20 seconds
Push-ups x20 seconds
Jumping Jacks x20 seconds
V-Ups x20 seconds
Left Leg Reverse Lunges x20 seconds
Mountain climbers x20 seconds
Right Leg Reverse Lunges x20 seconds
Dead Bugs x20 seconds
Shadow Boxing x20 seconds
Lying Leg Lifts x20 seconds
Squats x20 seconds

No rest between movements, other than the short time it takes to get up and down from the floor. Move as fast as possible and complete the maximum amount of reps for each movement, while still keeping good form.


20 seconds work
10 seconds rest
Repeat for 5 minutes

This is a variation of the famous Tabata workout. Pick an extremely lightweight, maybe 30% of 1RM, and do 20 seconds of fast reps, rest 10, repeat until 5 minutes have passed. Aim for at least 8 reps each set For the math inclined, we get 10 sets by the end.


Very simply, pick a moderate weight and do as many reps as you can in 5 minutes. Rest as you want/need, but the clock is ticking. Over time, try to complete more reps in 5 minutes with the same weight. This is a variation of Escalating Density Training, but you are looking to increase the amount of work done in a set amount of time, rather than doing the same work in decreasing time.


5x2 with an escalating weight

This is another EMOM workout. Pick a lightweight and do 2 reps, rest the remainder of the minutes, add weight for 2 reps. Continue until the last minute and a heavy load. Here is an example using deadlifts:

Minute 1: 135x2
Minute 2: 225x2
Minute 3: 315x2
Minute 4: 405x2
Minute 5: 495x2

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As you can see, there are many different ways to get a good workout in as little as 5 minutes. It simply takes a little imagination and determination. 

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