12 Minute Home Workouts

I love helping people discover how to get a fast full body workout in almost as much as I love chocolate (almost). High intensity interval training is such affective type of workout that I’m not sure I can ever go back to just running or spinning classes. I used to run everyday for 10 years, and then one day I found BodyRock.tv, an interval training home workout movement website, and gave it a shot. After two weeks, it stopped me in my tracks because I saw results so fast (I know I sound like an infomercial–snuggie anyone?–but it’s true). This type of training makes you sweaty, burnt out–a good thing if you’re trying to build muscle (and no ladies, that doesn’t mean you’ll get “big”, it means you’ll get toned!) and you can finish in 12 minutes. You read that correctly. 12 kickass minutes. Shyeh, it’s that good.

If you have more time, you can feel free to make these workouts longer, but this 12 minute setup is for those people who don’t want to spend an hour at the gym, or simply don’t have the time some days! Like me! It’s inspired by what I learned from BodyRock, and presented in a way that lets you mix and max your own exercise program.

Below are instructions that will guide you to making your own personal 12 minute workouts. It’s beginner and advanced friendly because it’s all based on doing as many reps as you can within a time limit. No one will be yelling numbers in your face :) . Doing this let’s you choose what areas to target most, and also arms you with a plan everytime you hit the gym–making your time there more effective and hardcore. And who doesn’t wanna be hardcore fit? Eh?

12 Minute Custom Workouts

Want to make your own custom high intensity interval training workout? It’s easy:

1. Choose 3 cardio exercises and 3 strength exercises from the list below. You can do the same cardio exercise 3 times if you’d like, but change up the strength moves based on the areas of your body you’d like to target.

2. List out your choices in an alternating fashion, i.e.: #1 cardio, #2 strength, #3 cardio, #4 strength, #5 cardio, #6 strength

3. Start your custom workout by doing each exercise down the list. Do the first one for 50 seconds, then rest for 10. Move on to the second one for 50 seconds, then rest for 10, etc.

4. Push with everything you’ve got for each exercise! You really want to push through that last impossible rep and give 110%–this is how a 12 minute workout can be so effective, and your body will start changing.

5. Complete the whole circuit twice, for a total of 12 minutes of burrrrn baby!

All of these exercises either require no equipment, or a set of dumbbells (or you can use soup cans, a full backpack, water bottles… get creative!). When creating your workout, you can choose the exercises that target the areas you want to tone up most–but I always try to incorporate squats or lunges, and push-ups–because they’re kickass change makers. I’ll continue to add new exercises to this list over time. Have any suggested additions? Let me know!


  • burpees
  • side to side burpees
  • jumping rope
  • jumping jacks
  • low jumping jacks (knees bent while doing it–extra leg workout)
  • mountain climbers
  • high knees (go go go!)
  • jogging in place (as fast as you can!)
  • running back and forth in a room (get em!)
  • plus the *starred* exercises in lower body


  • abs
    • bicycle crunches
    • V-ups
    • plank jacks (in plank position, jump legs in and out)
    • plank side to side jumps (in plank position, keep feet together and jump from left to right repeatedly–keep your core tight and your back straight)
    • vertical knee raises
    • side plank (obliques)
    • straight leg raises (while laying on back–try to keep your lower back pressed into the ground, and lift your legs up and down slowly)
  • lower body
    • *squat jumps (if it’s too hard for you, you can skip the jump)
    • *alternating lunge jumps (step one foot back and squat, then jump and switch the other one to the front–the switch happens mid air. beginners can skip the jump if it’s too hard)
    • lunge forward with alternating legs
    • sumo squats (good for inner thighs)
    • side leg raises (good for outer thighs and booty)
    • side squats
    • squat pulses (in squat position, come halfway up then back down, repeatedly. oh the burn!)
  • upper body
    • push-ups in any variation are an amazing exercise
      • from your knees for beginners (I had to do it this way for 2 weeks until I could do a regular one)
      • with one leg crossed onto the other (alternating)
      • bringing one knee to your elbow on the way down (alternating)
      • elevated feet
      • 3 mountain climbers then into 1 push up (and repeat)
    • dips- either at a dip station or off a bench
    • dumbbell squat press (combo move)
    • mountain climbers and burpees from the cardio list also work arms
    • jump lunge while holding a medicine ball and punching out when in mid-air (combo move)

*Note: I am not yet a certified personal trainer, so please do consult a doctor before engaging in these activities. Thank ya.

Here is an example of a 12 minute workout I’ve put together for myself and some friends:

1. High knees

2. Sumo squats

3. Mountain climbers

4. V-ups

5. Squat jumps

6. One-legged push ups

(repeat twice through)

Before I got a timer, I used to watch the microwave in my kitchen and wait for the minute to turn. Once it did, I counted to 10, and then started the first exercise. I waited for the minute to end, then counted to 10 again and started the next exercise on the list. This gave me my 50 seconds on, 10 seconds off interval timing. You can also create an interval timer for free online here, and workout in the same room as your computer or smartphone.

Have an exercise you want to contribute to this list? Share them in the comments!



37 Responses to “12 Minute Home Workouts”

  1. sharon January 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I too have discovered HIIT and like you stated results are fast. For me I see results within a week 3′xs alternating days. My interval runs on the treadmill or track develop nice looking strong legs and with this kind of training you can actually run 5k’s 10′s without putting in the long training hours.
    My favorite at home workouts off the treadmill are from Cathe.com.
    We should have a work out one time. It will be fun.
    There is a company in Dallas that only does these types of training and I’ve asked them to come to Austin too. Maybe….

  2. Melanie July 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    I found your blog while doing a search for 12-minute workouts. Thanks for the information. I like how you list the various cardio and strength exercises to choose from and then how to create a routine. Very helpful! I also was able to find an interval timer app for my iPhone.

    I first learned about the 12-minute workout from our chiropractor when we lived in Houston a few years ago. It’s amazing to me how little you actually need to workout to get toned and burn fat quickly. I’m going to be starting this up again and my mom is going to join me. She’s been struggling with her weight for a couple years now, especially since she found out she’s hypothyroid. I’m the opposite, hyperthyroid, because of Graves’ disease.

    I have been hesitant to start because I have stress fractures in both shins, though the right one is worse. I was looking at the cardio exercises and trying to decide which may have less of an impact on my shins when I do them. What would you recommend?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

    P.S. I, too, am going to start courses to be a certified personal trainer. I’m so excited!

    • melruns July 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Hey Melanie! I’m so glad you’ve learned about the benefits of 12 minute workouts and you’re going to try it!!

      I’m by no means an expert about how to workout with shin splints, but as a once-runner, I would say to avoid pounding pressure. So instead of doing jump squats, I would do standing squats, and instead of jogging in place, I’d hop on the elliptical for 3 minutes at a fast pace. That eases the shock pressure on both your shins and your knees. If you do engage in things like jumping squats, high knees, or burpees, just make sure you do them with a workout mat underneath your feet vs. a hard wood or cement floor.

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes! And congratulations on the decision to get certified :)

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  9. Home Workouts September 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    I like Hollow Rocks. This exercise insn’t in your list. But it’s another good exercise for the abs. And I love Burpees and Mountain Climbers. They are great and total-body exercises! Thanks for sharing your workout list!

  10. Ryan December 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Thanks for this. This is a good list (and links) that will help my clients.

    I’m passionate about HIIT – keep it up and keep writing. I’ll check out other posts – came here through searching on 12 minutes workout!

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