The insanely effective 15-minute workout

Make every second count with this action-packed plan that rolls cardio and strength training into one.
© 2014 Weider Publications // © 2014 Weider Publications

Can you really get an effective workout in only 15 minutes? You bet your abs you can! Maximize every second of your precious time with this simple plan that's as effective (if not more!) than most hour-long training sessions. The secret is that it combines two proven fat-loss techniques—metabolic strength training and Tabata training—into one super-focused workout.

First, you'll work every major muscle group to fatigue with a 10-minute strength circuit, and then you'll finish with the "Tabata top off," alternating between 20 seconds of maximum intensity and 10 seconds of rest, 8 times. There are two different exercises in the Tabata portion so you'll alternate for every set, meaning you'll do 4 sets of each move (8 sets total).

How it works: After the 1-minute warm-up, do each strength exercise back to back, performing as many reps as possible (AMRAP) in 1 minute. Perform the full circuit twice, and then move on to the Tabata top off. Perform the first exercise at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then move on to the second exercise and repeat. Do 8 Tabatas (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off) total, alternating between the two moves for each set.

You will need: Free weights

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Warm-up exercise (A)

Stand with feet hip width, elbows bent, hands in fists in front of shoulders.

2 of 13 Image courtesy of Shape magazine

Warm-up exercise (B)

Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat as arms reach overhead, spreading fingers wide with palms facing in. Press through heels to return to standing. Begin with a smaller range of motion, and as body becomes warmer, lower deeper into squat and reach arms farther back behind head.

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Dumbbell squat

Stand with feet hip width, holding dumbbells by sides. Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat, reaching weights on either side of shins. Press through heels to return to the starting position and repeat.

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Dumbbell shoulder press (A)

Stand with feet hip width, holding dumbbells with arms bent in front of shoulders, palms facing in.

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Dumbbell shoulder press (B)

Brace abs in tight and extend arms overhead, pressing weights up, keeping palms facing in. Slowly lower the weights to return to the starting position and repeat.

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Dumbbell deadlift (A)

Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with feet hip width, knees slightly bent, and palms facing thighs.

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Dumbbell deadlift (B)

Keeping spine naturally straight, brace abs in tight and hinge forward from hips, reaching dumbbells towards feet until chest is about parallel to the floor (avoid going below shin level to prevent back from rounding). Engage glutes to raise torso back to the starting position and repeat.

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Pushup

Begin in a full plank position with feet together, hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Bend elbows and lower body until chest is just above the floor (avoid letting hips sag or lift). Press back up as quickly as possible. Widen feet to make it easier, keep feet closer together for more of a challenge, or modify by dropping down to knees if needed to finish the full minute.

9 of 13 Image courtesy of Shape magazine

Tabata top-off 1: Sprint on the spot

Staying in one place, alternate driving knees up to chest and pumping arms as quickly as possible for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, and then do 1 set of Tabata top off 2: squat thrust up and over. Do 4 sets total, always alternating between moves.

10 of 13 Image courtesy of Shape magazine