How To Design a 12 Minute Workout

13 Dec

I love helping people discover how to get a great 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. Recently, a friend of mine told me she was getting bored at the gym, and didn’t really know what to do there anymore. She wanted to tone up, but hated going from machine to machine–plus she didn’t really know the machines. It sounded exactly like the way I used to think of the gym.

Excited by the opportunity to help her, I grabbed a pen and paper, wrote down six exercises (completely inspired from my bodyrock experience), and told her the timing plan. She tried it that night, and emailed me saying “OMG! I NEVER KNEW SQUATS COULD FEEL LIKE THAT!” Victory!! Now she’s addicted :) . Here’s what I did. I chose 3 exercises that get the heartrate up , and 3 exercises that strengthen different parts of the body.

Her workout looked like this:

  • high knees
  • push ups
  • alternating jump lunges
  • v-ups
  • mountain climbers
  • dumbbell squat press

She did each exercise for 50 seconds, rested for 10 seconds, then went on to the next one. I told her “Do as many reps as you can–eeeeeek out that last one!” She completed the ciruit twice and then was done. This type of training makes you sweaty, burnt out (a good thing if you’re trying to build muscle), and gets out donezo in less than 15 minutes. Amazingness.

Wanna make your own personal high intensity interval training workout? Mix and match from the list below.


  • Choose 3 cardio exercises, and 3 strength exercises. You can do the same cardio exercise 3 times if you’d like, but change up the strength moves based on the areas you’d like to target.
  • List out your choices in an alternating fashion, i.e.: #1 cardio, #2 strength, #3 cardio, #4 strength, #5 cardio, #6 strength
  • Complete 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.
  • 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.
  • Complete the whole circuit twice, for a total of 12 minutes of burrrrn baby!

I’ve only listed a few exercises so that I don’t overwhelm you, but I’ll create one big list and have it always available on my site in the future. All of these 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.


  • burpees
  • jumping rope
  • jumping jacks
  • low jumping jacks (knees bent while doing it–extra leg workout)
  • mountain climbers
  • high knees
  • plus the *starred* exercises in lower body


  • abs
    • bicycle crunches
    • V-ups
    • plank jacks (in plank position, jump legs in and out)
    • 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.

Which exercises would you choose?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

3 Responses to “How To Design a 12 Minute Workout”

  1. Marty December 13, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    A few suggestions of circuit exercises that do me in:
    1) Plank-Ups
    2) Alternating Push-Ups
    3) Hindu Push-Ups


    “The CrossFit Wannabe”

    • melruns December 13, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

      Awesome suggestions. Plank ups are great! I made the mistake of doing them on carpet once and had rug burn on my elbows for a week haha. Always used a mat after that!

  2. Sharon Hamlin March 30, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi! After reading your post I’m saying that it’s really sound good.I started following your tips.For many days later I found a good piece of writing that design really great exercise routine.I just loved it.
    Thanks for sharing this with us… :-)

Leave a Reply