What Top Trainers Say You Should Do If You Only Have 30 Minutes In The Gym

Photographed by Andi Elloway.
They say that the hardest part of any workout is showing up. But even if you do manage to get your body in a gym, then you still have to figure out what exactly to do with it. Raise your hand if, when left to your own devices in a gym, you just end up shuffling around and staring at machines until you decide you've spent enough time there for it to qualify as a "workout." Yeah, us, too.
So, what's the best workout to do when you're short on time? There's no one answer that'll work for everyone, so we asked top trainers to share what they would do with just 30 minutes in the gym. Every single trainer we spoke to had the same advice for making the most of your time at the gym: Go in with a plan.
Ahead are six workouts that you can try from some of the best trainers in the game. The workout styles vary โ€” from CrossFit to dance cardio โ€” and some might be a little more challenging to pick up than others. The good news is they're all efficient and well-rounded routines, so you can get in and out of the gym faster.
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The pro: Morit Summers, NCSA-certified personal trainer
Workout style: Strength training and weightlifting
Best tip: "Warmup and cool-downs do take a lot of time, but are incredibly important. What I think people don't realize is that you can do them at different times of day if necessary: Warm up when you wake up in the morning, and stretch and foam roll before bed!"

The workout: To warm up, start by doing the World's Greatest Stretch for five reps on each leg. Next, do 15 reps of hip bridges, standing hamstring kicks, and butt-kicks.

For the main portion of the workout, you'll do four groups of two different moves for 40 seconds and 20 seconds, respectively. The moves are: Squats and jump squats; pushups and mountain climbers; lateral lunges with a jump in between and jumping jacks; planks with shoulder taps and burpees. Complete all the moves one time through, then rest for one minute before starting at the top.

To cool down, Summers likes to do core work. Do 15 reps of ab rollups. Then, complete a pigeon pose on each side, with a plank between. Try a kneeling hip flexor stretch, and then do a superman hold for 30 seconds. Finish with child's pose.
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The pro: Greg James, coach at Tone House
Workout style: Boxing, martial arts, and strength training
Best tip: "In my opinion, the biggest factor that makes people miss out on a gym workout, aside from using social media and apps, is walking into the gym without a plan. Having a structure and clear plan will allow for the best workout."

The workout: If you only have 30 minutes, James says interval training should be your go-to, and there are a few different ways to do it. His favorite is Tabata, in which you do 20 seconds of an exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds. Or you could try circuit training, which involves doing one-minute intervals of an exercise, with 15 seconds of rest, for four to five rounds, depending on the exercises. And then there's something called a rest pause set, in which you do as many reps as you possibly can of an exercise, and then rest for 30 seconds. "With these different time variants, I can focus on total-body movements to optimize my time," James says. Not sure which exercises to do for these intervals? Here are some total-body workouts that might give you some ideas.
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legs are going โฌ†๏ธ on T U E S D A Y

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The pro: Megan Roup, PROJECT by Equinox trainer
Workout style: Roup's signature workout, The Sculpt Society, is a dance cardio class that incorporates sliders and light weights.
Best tip: "People who don't have a plan waste the most time. You need a program to follow so that you're hitting all the right muscle groups and not wasting time floating around a gym."

The workout: Roup suggests starting with one song of follow-along dance cardio to warm up your body and boost your heart rate. Begin by doing 16 jumping jacks. Then, hop forward and back with your feet together eight times, punching your arms overhead as you jump forward. Do eight reps of high knees, squat jumps, and grape vines. Then repeat the warmup from the top.

For the next moves, you'll need a slider under your foot, or you can use a towel. Hold two-to-three pound weights in your hands, and place a slider under your right foot. Slide your right leg back into a reverse lunge for 10 reps, pulse up and down for 16 reps, then hold the lunge isometrically for eight counts. Repeat this sequence in a lateral side lunge, a curtsy squat, and a traditional squat. Then do the whole thing on the other leg.

End by doing a one-minute plank with sliders under both feet. Slide your right knee to your right shoulder for 16 reps, then repeat to the left. Continue for eight reps, then four, then two, then one on each side. Do the same thing again, without bending your knee. End with a song of dance cardio and a stretch.
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The pro: Mandy Moreno, a CrossFit instructor at CrossFit Wall Street
Workout style: CrossFit and weightlifting
Best tip: "Set up your space at the start of your workout so you're not wasting time wandering around getting equipment together or getting cold after your warmup."

The workout: Think about splitting up your workout into three, 10-minute sections: warmup, workout, cool-down, Moreno says. Begin rowing at a quick pace for 500 meters (Moreno says it should take around two minutes). Then, do 10 inchworms to loosen up your hamstrings and calves and to warm up your core and shoulders. You can even add a pushup and a plank in between each inchworm if you feel like a challenge. After that, Moreno usually does 20 "PVC pass throughs," which is a shoulder stretch, and then 20 squats to warm up the hips and glutes.

Next, set a timer for 10 minutes, and do what CrossFitters call AMRAP or, "as many rounds as possible," of this sequence: five burpees, seven thrusters with light dumbbells, and nine ab mat sit-ups.

When you've finished those moves, lie on the floor and try to stop sweating for one to two minutes, Moreno says. Dead-hang from a bar for 30 seconds to stretch out your shoulders and core, rest for 15 seconds, then do it again. End with 15 reps of the bootstrap stretch, holding for three seconds each time. And finally, spend whatever time you have left to foam roll.
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Showing Tuesday What's Up ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฝ #strongirl #strongnotskinny #girlsthatlift #strongAF Photo: @abbeydrucker

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The pro: Holly Rilinger, a Nike Master Trainer, creator of LIFTED, and author
Workout style: HIIT and meditation
Best tip: "Get off your phone! Have a plan before you get there. When you don't have a plan you spend half your time trying to figure out what to do. You wouldn't show up to an important meeting unsure of the agenda. Treat your workouts like important meetings."

The workout: Start with a three-minute seated meditation to clear your head and create some space from your day. Once you're done, move into five minutes of a dynamic warmup. Rilinger suggests doing the World's Greatest Stretch, high knees, and prisoner squats.

From there, you'll do two rounds of resistance training, and aim to do 40 seconds of an exercise, then 20 seconds of rest. For the first round, Rilinger says you should do goblet or kettlebell front squats, dumbbell chest presses, then pull ups; repeat those exercises three times through for the allotted time. Then, for the next round, do kettlebell deadlifts, incline dumbbell chest presses, and TRX rows; repeat those exercises three times through for the allotted time.

To finish, do 20 seconds of burpees, and 20 seconds of sit ups three times through, with 10 seconds of rest in between.
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The pro: Jess King, NASM-certified personal trainer and Peloton cycling instructor
Workout style: Indoor cycling, strength training, and dance cardio
Best tip: "If you have to change into workout clothes, that takes time. If you have to fill up your water bottle, that takes time. And waiting on equipment is the worst. Learn how to adapt quickly to the situation. Wear play clothes all the time and let your body be your favorite piece of equipment."

The workout: Begin with a five-minute dance warm-up of your choice. Then do some jumping lunges, alternating each side 10 times for three rounds. Next up, do 10 burpees for three rounds to work your whole body.

If you can do pull ups, King suggests "busting out" 10 pull ups, then eight, then six. Hit the floor to work your core, and do planks and side planks for 30 seconds each, two times through, for three minutes total.

At this point, "you've made it through the tough stuff," King says. To cool down, end with vinyasa yoga flows, to gently slow your heart rate and breath. "Pause in areas that are calling for special attention, and static stretch with active breath for the remaining time," she says.
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Just havin some fun on a #MondayFunday ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฝ Might have to bring #bootcamp back ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ†

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The pro: Karli Alvino, a NASM-certified personal trainer and coach at Mile High Run Club
Workout style: Running and bodyweight strength exercises
Best tip: "I believe the biggest time sucker at the gym is programmed 'rest.' Most people do not know what proper work and rest ratios are, and they take way too much rest time between sets and exercises."

The workout: For the first round of the warmup, you'll do about 30 seconds of each exercise for five minutes total. Alvino suggests doing: torso twists, alternating lateral lunges with a reach overhead, rainbow reaches, and squats. From there, bring your hands to the floor for a hamstring stretch. Finish with a plank, then repeat the whole routine for just 10 seconds of each exercise.

Next, you'll do 30-second intervals of a plank series, for five minutes total. Start by doing a plank on your hands, then move to your elbows, and then go back to your hands. Then stay in the plank and do alternating shoulder taps, then move back to your elbows. Hold this, and then do a side plank with a plank in between. Finish with a plank on your hands and toes.

For the next eight minutes, you'll do 30-second intervals of the following exercises: ab rollups, raised-leg crunches, bicycle crunches, and 90-degree crunches. Finally, you'll do 10 minutes of squats, starting with a sumo squat, then a standard squat, then a split squat. Alvino recommends pulsing up and down in the squat, then adding a jump, and then holding the position isometrically for each type of squat.

Cool down with a two-to-three minute stretch session.
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