We don’t have much time, so let’s get right to it. Let’s say you’re set to workout, but for whatever reason you only have 10 minutes. In a pinch, you can get in an effective workout in less time than it probably takes you to get to the gym.

Here are the rules:

✅  You have 600 seconds. Make each of them count.

✅  Push every set to full-rep failure or beyond.

✅  Don’t do any one-side or alternating-side exercises, as they double the time spent when training both sides together.

✅  Eliminate or greatly minimize between-set rest.

✅  Pre-workout, set up each workstation.

✅  Never do two sets of the same exercise in a row.

Follow those tenets and you can effectively blast a body part in only 10 minutes. Our five fast and furious sample workouts utilize a quintet of training styles—supersets, circuits, drop sets, high reps, and low reps—to speed-train your muscles. Each can be applied to any bodypart and with a great variety of exercises. Let’s go!

SUPERSETS

Bodypart workouts that feature antagonistic muscles, like biceps and triceps, are ideal for supersets because one muscle can rest while its opposite is toiling. If you look at our workout and add up the 20 sets, you might doubt you can plow through that tally in a mere 600 seconds. But it’s actually a dozen supersets, and the key is pairing exercises you can do with the same weights or at the same station to eliminate wasted time. Our routine begins with “skullcrushers” followed immediately by standing curls with the same EZ-bar, so all you need to do is transition from lying on a bench to standing.

Next comes seated two-arm dumbbell extensions followed immediately (with the same weights) with two-arm (non-alternating) seated dumbbell curls. Finally, pushdowns are paired with cable curls at the same station, so hook a bar to the overhead cable and another to the floor cable. Allowing three seconds per rep (two seconds up, one second down), if you hit nine reps on each subset (27 seconds), the total working time for the 10 supersets is nine minutes. That gives you one minute total to set-up and transition between the six exercises and the three exercise duos. Every second matters in a 10-minute routine.

10-MINUTE ARM SUPERSET ROUTINE

Lying EZ-bar Triceps Extension     4 x 8-10 reps

            superset with

EZ-bar Curl 4 x 8-10 reps

Two-arm Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 x 8-10 reps

            superset with

Seated Dumbbell Curl 3 x 8-10 reps

Pushdown 3 x 8-10 reps

            superset with

Two-arm Cable Curl    3 x 8-10 reps

CIRCUIT

Working both quadriceps and hamstrings in only 10 minutes is your greatest challenge. There are a lot of big muscles to fully stress in 600 seconds. Luckily, legs lend themselves to circuits. You won’t rest until after your final rep, so it’ll test not just your pain tolerance but also your cardiovascular health. Our circuit features five exercises. If you get 12 reps per exercise (three seconds per rep), that’s 180 seconds of work per circuit. We’ll allow four seconds to transition from one exercise to the next, so each of the three circuits should take about 200 seconds.

leg extensions 10 minute workouts
Leg Extensions

Altogether, you’re doing only nine sets for quads and six for hamstrings—a very low total. The secret is in the synergistic power of doing multiple exercises for the same body part in a row without resting. Unlike our superset workout, which alternates antagonists, allowing you to rest one while working the other, the three quad exercises are sequential, followed by the two hamstring exercises, one after the other. So you will again rest one side while working the other, but you’re going to do a full barrage for each side before it rests. Push each of the 15 total sets to failure, and, if possible, have a partner assist on a couple of forced reps per set.

10-MINUTE CIRCUIT LEG ROUTINE (3 circuits)

Leg Extension 12 reps

Hack Squat 12 reps

Leg Press   12 reps

Lying Leg Curl 12 reps

Seated Leg Curl 12 reps      

DROP SETS

This routine is going to plow through the maximum of 200 three-second reps in just 600 seconds, give or take a few reps or seconds. It does this via four marathon drop sets—each stretched out to 50 reps with increasingly lighter weights. Because shoulders consist of four distinct areas—front delts, medial delts, rear delts, and trapezius—you can go from one exercise to the next without resting. Begin with shoulder presses. These can be performed with a barbell, but if you choose a Hammer Strength machine or Smith machine, you’ll waste less time unracking and racking. Preplan. Start with a weight you can barely get 10 reps with, but set it up so there are five plates (or five sets of plates) on each collar. This way, you (or, better yet, one spotter on each side) can easily strip the right amount of metal off after every 10 reps.

For the side laterals, you can simply go down the rack, grabbing a lighter pair of dumbbells after each 10-rep subset. Likewise, you can quickly transition to lighter subsets of machine rear laterals and cable upright rows, because all you need to do is move the pin up the stack each time to a lighter number. Push subsets to failure or near-failure, and don’t pause between subsets or exercises. The 200 reps will be continuous, and, because there will be 20 failure points, this workout will be more intense than most, despite lasting only as long as it takes to steam brown rice.

10-MINUTE DROP SET SHOULDER ROUTINE

Shoulder Press 1 x 10-10-10-10-10 reps

Dumbbell Side Lateral     1 x 10-10-10-10-10 reps

Machine Rear Lateral     1 x 10-10-10-10-10 reps

Cable Upright Row 1 x 10-10-10-10-10 reps

HIGH-REP

Our high-rep chest routine incorporates nine 20-rep sets. At three seconds per rep, that adds up to nine minutes and leaves seven or eight seconds to transition from one exercise to the next. (Some such transitions, such as dumbbell incline flyes to dumbbell incline presses will be fast. Others might require a walk.) Our routine has a unique structure, as the first four exercises are repeated, in reverse order, at the end, with a fifth exercise, pec-deck flyes, in the middle. The routine hits all areas of the pecs—upper, lower, inner—with different stresses, and it allows you to revisit exercises twice while not having to pause between sets or use substantially less weight. Look at it another way: The 40 total reps for each of those four exercises are probably as many, if not more, than you do in an hour-long chest routine. But we’ve crammed them into a workout that lasts one-sixth that long.

10-MINUTE HIGH-REP CHEST ROUTINE

Cable Crossover 1 x 20 reps

Barbell Bench Press 1 x 20 reps

Dumbbell Incline Flye 1 x 20 reps      

Dumbbell Incline Press 1 x 20 reps

Pec-Deck Flye 1 x 20 reps

Dumbbell Incline Press 1 x 20 reps

Dumbbell Incline Flye 1 x 20 reps      

Barbell Bench Press 1 x 20 reps

Cable Crossover 1 x 20 reps      

Incline Dumbbell Press 10 minute workouts
Incline Dumbbell Presses / Christian Clausen

LOW-REP

The lower the reps, the faster each set can be done. This lets you pound out more sets or rest longer between those sets, or, as in our back routine, a little of both. Our routine features six exercises and 12 total sets, and it allows for about 26 seconds between each of those sets—not nearly enough time to fully recover your strength, but enough so you can keep the weights relatively heavy, at least in comparison to the pause-free barrages of other fast and furious workouts. Use a timer to make sure you don’t go over the allotted rest periods.

This routine isn’t just low-rep. It’s also high-intensity. All eight sets of the machine exercises should be pushed to failure at around six reps and followed immediately by three forced reps (+ 3 in the chart). You’ll need a spotter to help you eke out those extra reps, which are crucial for maximizing the stress on your muscles in a minimum amount of time. As with other 10-minute workouts, set each station up ahead of time—loading one barbell for rows and another for rack deadlifts, for example—to eliminate downtime.

10-MINUTE LOW-REP BACK ROUTINE

Pulldown 1 x 6 + 3 reps

Barbell Row 1 x 8 reps

Low-cable Row 1 x 6 + 3 reps

Pulldown 1 x 6 + 3 reps

Barbell Row 1 x 8 reps

Low-cable Row 1 x 6 + 3 reps

Lever Pulldown 1 x 6 + 3 reps

Rack Deadlift 1 x 8 reps

Machine Row 1 x 6 + 3 reps

Lever Pulldown 1 x 6 + 3 reps

Rack Deadlift 1 x 8 reps

Machine Row 1 x 6 + 3 reps

Related: What are Supersets? and What are Drop Sets?