Only Got 10 Minute Workout Time? 10 Fantastic Things To Do

So, you only have a 10 minute workout time to spare?  Here are 10 things you can do

Don’t panic and even more importantly, don’t give up.    Don’t spend it procrastinating or faffing about on Social Media.     No need for fancy equipment, just a wall, a desk or chair and a folded towel.  No need to lie down or go into All fours, however marvellous those positions are.  You can do a 10 minute workout right where you are!

There is a tremendous amount of vital and important movement that you can do.  I’m not going to cover Cardio.  In our lockdown lives, and possibly in normal times, that is mostly going to be running, walking or cycling and I shall sally forth with the naïve assumption that you can find another ten minutes for that.  To be honest, we mostly can find that can’t we….. even if we don’t and please don’t underestimate the value of walking.  For those of us who can walk, it truly is the very essence of our good movement. I have written more on this in another post here

Most of us spend a bit too much of our time sitting down.  It isn’t simply the act of sitting that is bad for our health, it is also being inactive that is so damaging.   If  you have a job that meant you are standing not moving all day, that would be nearly as bad because you would still be inactive, if not sedentary.

For a Full Video Clip of this 10 minute workout, simply scroll to the bottom of the blog post

Number One: Stand Up

That wasn’t so hard was it.  First mission accomplished

You didn’t think it would be that easy did you?


We wear shoes most of the time.  The deleterious effects of shoes on our foot, leg, pelvis and back health is worthy of a blog post of it’s own (and only a month  or so to wait for that one folks!)

For now, take them off.

If you wear slippers at home then take them off too and feel the earth beneath your toes, forefoot and under your heels.   Sway and shift the weight from the left foot to the right foot and then from your heels to your toes. Take care with that last one, so you don’t loose your balance.

Number Two: Dynamic Spine Twist

Have your legs a bit wider than hip distance and rotate the body side to side.  Allow the arms to lift a little as you move. Your legs and pelvis will turn too, and your feet may twist.  It wakes the body up a little and is vital spine rotation.  Don’t forget to breathe and possibly close your eyes otherwise it is a lot of motion for them to cope with.

Number Three: Posture Check & Time to Fire Up Those Glutes

If you tend to sway your pelvis forwards with your upper body leaning backwards, back up your pelvis on top of you ankles and knees

If you stick your bum out, pop your hands on your hip crease and push your bottom forward

The Glutes (big muscles of the bottom) are vital for many things, including holding us up, from behind, in standing.  Many of our naughty postural behaviours mean we don’t use them properly.  In this clip I will explain in more detail how to stand really well

Stand there and breathe,  because standing there isn’t just standing there: it is a conscious act of doing it properly which delivers functional Glute strength.  This ultimately becomes unconscious and automatic

No bum squeezing

If you are squeezing someone else’s bum, go on, fill your boots.  If it is your own, watch the vid.  The bones have to be in the right place to achieve muscle activation.

If your knees roll in when you sit down, walk or run, stand with your legs parallel and rotate your thigh bones out a little WITHOUT moving your feet. This fires up your pelvic stabilisers (aka Gluteus Medius).  You’ll feel this (possibly) in your outer buttocks and as a lift of the arches of your feet.  I say possibly because who is to say what anyone is feeling right now?  Perhaps you feel hungry, or tired or your hand is itchy.

Number Four:  Stand On One Leg

Use a Wall for support if you need to, maybe for just one finger

The thing about this is, it’s a BOGOF exercise.  I love these. They are the best kind

It challenges your glutes (and other things) because instead of sharing the load between 2 legs and 2 buttocks, 1 has to do all the work, and if your glutes aren’t quite strong enough they’ll kinda give up and rely on the next muscle down or up the chain

Ever wondered why you are better on one side than another? Probably because your strength is different not because your balance is compromised on one side.

Make sure your hips stay open, your pelvis stays neutral and you don’t lean to one side

The balance receptors on your unshod feet will have to work hard too.  There are plenty of these on the underside of your foot and in your ankle.  When you wobble slightly on one leg that is your balance receptors really going for it.   With no shoes they really work and you really notice it. Close your eyes for extra balance challenge

Number Five: Calf Stretch

Ever wondered why squatting low is tricky?  Could be tight calves

Want another reason to get out of your chair?  Because prolonged sitting fixes the ankle into one position and over time prevents it fully flexing

Grab a folded towel (or yoga block, or a sturdy book) and stand as per the picture.  Keep your pelvis neutral, your collar bones open and your head relatively back.

Calf stretch using a folded towel to support the front of the foot

Ok so far so good and half way through the 10 things for the 10 minute workout

Number Six: Cupboard Squats

Yes, we couldn’t really avoid this could we!  Squatting is so good for strength in the buttocks and knees and getting movement into the hip, knee and ankle joint.

Rather than worry about normal squats I’m simply going to suggest a modified version which is especially helpful if you are barefoot which tends to magnify the issue of tight calves

Grasp a cupboard, stair bannister, or door handle and then squat down , pushing the floor away with your feet as you come back up.  Some of the load is taken into the arms making it easier to squat down, squat lower, and reducing the likelihood of hurting the knees.

There is more detail in this clip (again towards the end)

deep squat assisted by holding a radiator

Number Seven: Shoulder Mobility

This is quicker to do than a strength workout and just as vital. Get the arms and shoulders moving through a full range of movement and away from the fixed, arms, head, upper body rounded forwards position

Whist standing up,  circle your arms (& shoulder blades) in circles one way and then the opposite way.  If that is really uncomfortable due to the many shoulder issues that crop up, stand near a wall and creep your outstretched hand up the wall bit by bit, and possibly backwards and forwards.

To stretch the almost-always-tight-chest, place your arms beside your body, palms forwards and reach then up to your shoulders like the Angel of the North.   This will also gently work the shoulder muscles (The Deltoids muscle)

Not quite so angelic: reach the arms backwards whilst raised to further stretch and work the muscles (Rhomboids) in between the shoulder blades

Keep your head position on top of your body , not forwards and do not shrug your shoulders or hinge through your back

Number Eight: Wall Press Ups

Talking of Walls. use one to do a bit more shoulder/arm strength.

Explained in this clip. In essence, keep your spine straight, your head on top of your body  and bend at the elbow.  Aim for at least 10 repetitions

Number Nine: Desk Cat/Cow Stretch

The classic Cat/Cow is one of the commonest spine mobility exercises. If you don’t want to get on the floor, or your can’t, try making the same shapes with your hands resting on a desk or table. In addition bend your knees a little and away you go: curve the spine up into a Rainbow shape, and reverse the shape into an UnRainbow

It’s in this clip, towards the end

Before leaving the desk, or  chair, one more thing: instead of curving your spine, hinge back at the hips and make a capital L shape.  This is really tricky if your hamstrings at the back of the legs are tight, so, bend your knees a little.  Sustain the shape and you have a first class back stretch.  Notice it into your arm pits and down your sides and if you can, let your breast bone sink a down towards the floor

Author doing a back stretch via a hip hinge shape, hands supported on a chair

Number Ten: Breathe and Relax

Why not do this whilst standing up? After all, if we see relaxation as an activity that has to be done whilst lying down then we might never get around to it.

Now there are very good reasons why you relax on the floor: you can minimise the muscular work done because the floor holds you, being supported by the earth is intrinsically calming for the nervous system.     If standing is still too weird, then sit!

Close your eyes and breathe

Pop your hand behind your skull and push your head backwards. This helps to get it properly on top of your body and not jutted forwards.

Progressively notice, briefly, your body: feet, knees, thighs, pelvis, tummy, lower back, ribs, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, fingers, finger tips.

Try to stand as if you are suspended from the ceiling and simultaneously completely supported by your on the ground via your feet

Melt your shoulder blades away from your ears and gently widen your collar bones

Soften your facial features and your jaw

Finally, smile your mouth as you breathe in and “smile” your ribs out to the side.

GiF of the movement of the rib cage during breathing

Ok so was it a 10 minute workout or maybe 11?  Do you need to lose something to make it fit?

I hope not because I  for one cannot say which is less important.  Maybe snatch another minute?!




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