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By Joanne Chen
Marie Claire magazine logo
The low-effort, high-impact plan that'll have you in your skinny jeans by spring. Bonus: All you need is 10 minutes a day.

Your doc has said it all along: 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity improves health and cardiofitness. But what if you barely have time to call your parents or squeeze in six hours of sleep? Here's what trainers — and sports-medicine experts — have realized: You don't have to do all 30 minutes in one stretch. In fact, you can do 20 or just 10 minutes a day to reap some of the benefits, from losing weight to toning to reducing stress and clearing your mind. The secret? In the case of weight loss, you've got to move fast and hard and circuit-train; in the case of building strength, you've got to do those moves slowly, precisely, and consistently every other day. Here, high-intensity 10-minute workouts that make the most of the time you've got. Do at least one each day, or if you’ve got time to spare, rotate up to four for maximum benefits.

THE GROUND RULES:

  • If you are target training (say, you want great arms), do the appropriate exercises for that body part consistently, every other day. If you want overall toning and fitness, mix and match the various workouts.
  • How to know if you're working hard enough: "If you were to hold a conversation during these segments, you should be breathing hard, but not be completely breathless," says Gabriel Valencia, cofounder of Focus Integrated Fitness in Manhattan.
  • The indicated time for each move is a suggestion. If you need more time to perform a move correctly, by all means take it.

BACKYARD BOOT CAMP

The lowdown: A heart-pumping, rev-up-your-metabolism workout you can do in your backyard, the gym, or a nearby park.

What you'll get in four weeks: A healthier heart and better endurance.

Special equipment: A bench; a set of stairs or step-up; a treadmill or open running space.

Extra credit: Wear a weighted vest. Start conservatively — about five pounds, says Valencia, who created this workout.

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Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

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Beats
PER
Seconds