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As great as exercise is for the body, not everyone can spend hours in the gym everyday. On top of that, without a personal trainer, it may be challenging to know what to do or to even where to start creating your own workout routine. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend many hours in the gym to get a good workout in. The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, which can be divided into just 30 minutes a day five days per week. 

For these 30-minute workouts, lots of modalities are fair game: cardio, strength training, high-intensity interval training, bodyweight movements, full-body or major muscle group splits. They can all provide an effective, and sweat-inducing, workout. 

As a certified personal trainer and USA Weightlifting Level 1 Trainer, I know a thing or two about workout programming. Below, I share my tips and six 30-minute workouts I’ve created for varying fitness levels, equipment needs, and more. 

Before You Start Your 30-Minute Workout 

If you’re limited to just 30 minutes, the important thing to keep in mind is to maximize the time that you have and keep your heart rate elevated in order to reap the biggest benefit. Taking lengthy or unnecessary rest breaks can tamper the effectiveness of a workout and slow results. 

Don’t let your available equipment, or lack thereof, stop you from getting your 30-minute workout in either. Below, there are six workouts, each with a different focus to meet whatever your fitness needs may be. 

We have a:

  • Bodyweight workout, ideal for at-home workouts
  • A HIIT workout to burn fat and help weight loss
  • A cardio workout, which will also burn fat and improve endurance
  • A total-body strength training workout
  • A lower-body strength training workout
  • An upper-body strength training workout

Pick your poison and let’s dive in!

30-Minute Bodyweight Workout 

Believe it or not, using just your bodyweight can give you an effective workout in 30 minutes. This workout is broken up into three parts. You’ll start off with an upper body circuit focused on pushing and pulling movements. The goal here is to perform sets that are challenging but repeatable over all the rounds. Take your time with the reps and maintain control and quality of movement. 

Next is the lower-body circuit. This is an AMRAP, or “as many rounds as possible.” The goal is to move through these exercises at a steady pace and try not to rest until the seven minutes are up. 

Finally, we finish with a six-minute core circuit that will make your abs burn. This workout maximizes the amount of working time during the 30 minutes and is great for someone that has little to no equipment. It could be a great at-home workout as well.

Equipment Needed

  • Pull-up bar
  • A bench or chair
An graphic of a 30-minute-bodyweight-workout

The Workout

4 to 5 rounds of:

  • 5-10 pull ups (use assistance if needed, or sub for a bodyweight row)
  • 15-20 push ups
  • 10-15 bench dips
  • Rest 1-2 minutes between rounds

7-minute AMRAP

  • 20 air squats
  • 10 walking lunges each leg
  • 15 glute bridges

Rest 1 minute

4 rounds of:

  • 30 seconds alternating toe touches
  • 30 seconds bike crunches
  • 30 seconds shoulder taps

30-Minute HIIT Workout 

This high-intensity interval training workout, or HIIT workout, is split up into two parts. The first part focuses on power production from the lower body with three different explosive exercises. The rest is very minimal after completing 45 total reps each round, so this will help train the lactate threshold and improve the body’s ability to recover in workouts. Move steady through the exercises and once you start a movement, try to complete the reps without stopping. 

The second part has a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio so the goal is max reps for each bodyweight movement. Each 30 seconds should feel like a sprint. This workout will be great for burning calories if weight loss is your goal.

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbell
  • Kettlebell
A graphic of a 30-minute-hiit-workout

The Workout

5 rounds of:

  • 20 dumbbell snatches
  • 15 kettlebell swings
  • 10 squat jumps
  • Rest 1 minute

Rest 2-3 minutes 

4 rounds of:

  • 30 seconds jumping lunges
  • 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds mountain climbers
  • 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds of burpees over a dumbbell
  • 30 seconds rest

30-Minute Cardio Workout 

This workout can be done on any cardio machine or while running, walking, or cycling as well. The pacing for the different intervals will be determined by the RPE scale: 1 is little to no effort or exertion, and 10 would be an all-out effort that can only be maintained for a short period of time. Easy intensity would be 3-4, moderate intensity is 5-7, and hard intensity 8+. 

This workout will improve your cardio fitness and help teach the body how to maintain tougher paces in a workout and recover while still working. Since it is based on effort level, a person of any fitness level will get an effective workout from it. Cardio workouts like this will help to support fat burn, which aids in weight loss. If you need low-impact cardio, then I would suggest doing this workout on a bike, rower, or elliptical.

Equipment Needed

Cardio machine of your choice (can also be done just by running or jogging)

A graphic of a 30-minute-cardio-workout

The Workout

  • 5 minute warm-up at an easy pace

5 rounds of:

  • 2 minutes at a moderate pace
  • 1 minute at an easy pace
  • 30 seconds at a hard or fast pace
  • 1 minute at an easy pace

Then

  • 2 to 3 minute cool down at easy or walking pace

30-Minute Core Workout

Here we have a total-body workout that puts an emphasis on functional exercises that will challenge the core. The first circuit includes two upper-body and lower-body exercises that require the use of the whole body together in addition to a carry, which is one of the best full-body exercises. With these exercises, the focus needs to be on quality of movement rather than moving through the workout quickly.

Take short rests between the movements if you need to. The second circuit uses three different core holds including two different plank positions. This will challenge the body’s ability to hold itself up, strengthening the deeper core muscles and lower back

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells
  • Medicine ball
A graphic of a 30-minute-total-body-workout

The Workout

4 rounds of:

  • 10 dumbbell plank rows each side
  • 10 medicine ball reverse lunges with rotation each side
  • 10 dumbbell push presses
  • 10 dumbbell front rack squats
  • 100 ft dumbbell Farmer’s carry
  • Rest 1 minute between rounds

3 rounds of:

  • 30-second to 1-minute plank hold
  • 30-second side plank hold each side
  • 30-second Superman hold

30-Minute Workout For Lower Body

When limited on time, supersets can be a great way to fit more work in while strength training. Here you have three different supersets that will work your lower-body muscles such as the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Each superset has one compound movement and one single-leg movement paired together. This will help to prevent muscular imbalances and evenly work the muscles between the right leg and left leg. 

With the compound exercises, aim for a heavy weight that is challenging for the amount of reps. For the single-leg movements focus on making the reps between the two sides of the body look the same.

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbell
  • Barbell
  • Weight plates
  • Weight bench or a very sturdy chair
A graphic of a 30-minute-lower-body-workout

The Workout

4 rounds of:

  • 12 goblet squats
  • 8 Bulgarian split squats each side
  • Rest 1 minute

4 rounds of:

  • 10 barbell Romanian deadlifts
  • 10 step-ups each side alternating
  • Rest 1 minute

3-4 rounds of:

  • 10 curtsy lunges each side
  • 15 hip thrusts
  • Rest 1 minute

30-Minute Workout For Upper Body

This upper-body workout will use the same structure as the lower-body workout with a superset of two exercises and a short rest at the end of each round. 

With these supersets, you will have two exercises that work opposing muscle groups. This will help to create balanced strength and even muscle development throughout the upper body while building muscle. It will also allow one muscle group to rest a little while the other works. 

The first superset will work the chest and back. The second superset will work the shoulders and rear deltoids. The last one focuses solely on the biceps and triceps. 

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbell
  • Barbell
  • Weight plates
A graphic of a 30-minute-upper-body-workout

The Workout

4 rounds of:

  • 12 dumbbell bench press
  • 12 dumbbell rows each side
  • Rest 1 minute

4 rounds of:

  • 10 standing dumbbell shoulder press
  • 15 dumbbell reverse flyes
  • Rest 1 minute

3-4 rounds of:

  • 12-15 barbell curls
  • 12-15 skullcrushers
  • Rest 1 minute

How to Maximize Your 30-Minute Workouts

Want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your half-hour workouts? Anthony O’Reilly, a certified personal trainer and GGR performance editor, has some tips on how to ensure your time is well spent.

Wear a Weighted Vest

“Putting a weighed vest on is an easy way to maximize a short training session,” Anthony says. “You’ll burn more calories since you’re carrying more weight, and it can help build muscle mass.” Start with a 10-pound weighted vest at first.

coop working out in home gym with weighted vest

Create a Great Playlist

Countless studies have shown that music is a great motivator, and you’re more likely to enjoy your workout and focus on your sets if you have the sounds of your favorite song pumping in your head.

Make Sure You’re Pushing Yourself

Remember, you want to make sure you get that “hurts so good” feeling at the end of your workout. “If 30 minutes have come and gone and your shirt doesn’t smell just a little bit then you’re not pushing yourself as hard as you should be,” Anthony says. “You may need to increase the weight from time to time.”

FAQs About 30-Minute Workouts

What is a good 30-minute workout?

A good 30-minute workout is one where you are actively exercising for the majority of the 30 minutes, only resting as needed. Your heart rate should also be elevated above 60% of your maximum heart rate for the duration of the workout. This can be done with either just cardio or resistance training. A good workout routine will have a combination of both and work the full body.

How many calories do I burn in a 30-minute workout?

Depending on the intensity level—and plenty of other factors including gender, age, and weight—you can burn anywhere from 200 to 500 calories in 30 minutes. The higher your average heart rate is for the workout, the more calories you will burn. Look to limit rest and maximize effort if burning calories is the main focus.

How long should you work out every day?

The CDC recommends 150 minutes of meaningful exercise a week. You can accomplish this by working out for at least 30 minutes five days a week. 

Are 30 minute workouts effective?

Absolutely yes! 30-minute workouts are an effective way of increasing your heart rate and increasing muscle mass if you use enough intensity (meaning you have to push yourself).

What exercise burns the most fat in 30 minutes?

A study by Harvard School of Health found that riding a bicycle at a fast speed, more than 10 MPH, resulted in the greatest caloric burn during a 30-minute period.

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