How to Cut Your Workout Time in Half

Medically reviewed in November 2021

Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 times a week. Don’t have 30 minutes? Don’t worry! You can cut your exercise time in half by upping the intensity. Do it and you can get away with 20 minutes three times a week, says Mike Clark, CEO of the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

There is one caveat: You don't want to try this straight off the couch. "The 20 minutes at a higher intensity is for more advanced exercisers," says NASM Elite Trainer Joan Roth. So if you're a beginner, stick with moderate intensity until you feel comfortable exercising for 30 minutes straight.

Ready to kick it up a notch? Instead of trying to go all-out on the treadmill for 20 minutes straight, try one of these high-intensity cardio routines you can do at home (or anywhere) without any equipment.

To make your 20-minute workout count, you really have to push it. Here's how to tell if you're working hard enough: On a scale of 1 to 10, you should be at about an 8 or higher. So if you're able to chat up your friend while you sweat, it's time to step it up.

So time-strapped that you can't fit even 20 minutes of exercise into your day? This lightening-fast routine from fitness expert Mel Mueller takes just two-and-a-half-minutes from start to finish. Squeeze in a couple of rounds whenever you have 5 minutes of down time.

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