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Source: Fitness, Shape, 31 August 2018 © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

We get it. You’re busy, chained to your desk with a million things on your to-do list and you’ve forgotten what daytime looks like. At the end of the day, you’re swamped and all you want to do is sit on the couch and binge-watch your favourite dramas. If that’s what your typical weekday looks like, here’s the bad news.

A sedentary lifestyle brings on a slew of health problems – starting with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease… the list goes on. To avoid those pit-holes, find pockets of time in your day to incorporate a sweat sesh or two, and keep moving.

As a guide, the National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activities (MVPA) every week. Moderate-intensity physical activities include aerobic activities, such as the Health Promotion Board’s morning Sunrise in the City workout sessions and evening Fitness at Work classes that let you shake off the stress through zumba and body combat routines.

Extra busy days are best for squeezing in some vigorous-intensity physical activities, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It’s super effective and gives you a full-body workout in a short amount of time. For beginners who need some guidance, the Health Promotion Board’s free Quick HIIT sessions led by professional trainers are what you need.

If you have only 10 minutes or less to spare, sneak in this quick, do-anywhere workout. Ma. Rosario Mactal, a certified personal trainer from True Fitness, came up with a 5-minute high-intensity routine that will spike your heart rate in a jiffy, fire up those idle muscles and stoke your metabolism for hours after. There’s no equipment involved – all you need is yourself!

The plan

Begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up comprising dynamic stretches or light jogging. Do as many good reps as possible of these moves in order – 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Make sure you stretch each major muscle group at the end of the workout to reduce the risk of injury.

All exercises are performed with your body weight. To increase the intensity, rest time can either be reduced or replaced with a 10-second active rest with self-paced jogging on the spot. For best results, do this workout two or three times a week, coupled with cardio or resistance training, as well as a balanced diet.

1. Squat

Works glutes and quads


Squat [A]. All GIFs: Frenchescar Lim and Ray Christian Ticsay

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Push hips back and lower into a squat with thighs parallel to ground, keeping spine straight at all times. Extend hands in front of you, for better balance [A].


Jump squat [B].


180-degree jump squat [C].

Scale up: Do a jump squat [B] or a 180-degree jump squat [C].

2. Push-up

Works chest, triceps and core

Push-up [A].

Place hands on ground directly under shoulders or slightly wider apart. Keep knees above ground, heels pointing upwards and toes tucked under. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Slowly bend elbows till they form a 90-degree angle, then press upwards through arms. Elbows should stay below shoulder height when performing the push-up [A].


Push-up with hand or leg raise [B].

Scale up: Add a hand or leg raise when doing a push-up [B].


Push-up with knees on a foam mat [C].

Scale down: Do push-up with knees on a foam mat, or something soft that cushions the knees [C].

3. Alternate front lunges

Works glutes and quads

Alternate front lunges [A].

Stand with feet slightly apart. Take a large step forward with right leg. Lower body slowly and bend both knees at 90 degrees. Front thigh should be parallel to ground, and front knee should not extend past toes. Keep spine straight. Switch sides to complete one rep [A].


Alternate jumping lunges [B].

Scale up: Do alternate jumping lunges [B], switching sides as you jump.


Alternate reverse lunges [C].

Scale down: Do alternate reverse lunges instead [C], stepping backwards instead of forward.

4. Mountain climbers

Works arms, shoulders, abs and quads

Mountain climbers.

Start in high plank position. Place hands shoulder-width apart on ground. Your body should form a straight line from your neck to ankles. Tighten abs and lift right foot off floor. Drive right knee towards chest, then straighten it behind you. Repeat with left leg, and alternate swiftly without stopping. Each leg movement equals one rep.

Scale down: Do the mountain climbers on elevated ground.

5. Jumping jack


Works hip adductors, hip abductors, calves and shoulders

Jumping jack.

Stand with feet slightly apart. Simultaneously raise arms sideways to shoulder level or higher as you jump and split your legs to the sides. Jump back to the starting position to complete one rep.

6. Burpee

Works arms, shoulders, abs and quads

Burpee [A].

From standing position, drop into a low squat and place hands on ground while kicking both legs back into plank position. Your body should form a straight line from the shoulders to ankles. Lower chest to do a push-up. Jump back in towards hands and leap into the air with hands extended behind you to complete one rep [A].


Burpee without jumping [B].

Scale down: Instead of leaping in the air, stand up after jumping feet in [B].

7. Jog on the spot with maximal effort

Works calves and quads

Jog on the spot [A].

Jog in place while swinging alternate arm and leg. I.e. left arm with right leg and vice-versa. While this might seem like a natural motion, it trains your coordination skills [A].


High knees [B].

Scale up: Raise knees to hip level as you jog on the spot [B].

8. Plank jack

Works hip adductors, hip abductors and shoulders

Plank jack.

Get into low plank position with forearms on ground. Keep body in a straight line. Similar to a jumping jack motion, lift both legs off ground as you jump and bring feet apart. Then jump to bring legs together. Keep pelvis stable at all times.

9. Lateral shuffle squat

Works quads, glutes, calves, hip adductors and hip abductors

Lateral shuffle squat [A].

Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, shuffle a few quick steps towards the right, and end with a squat. Repeat towards the left [A].


Lateral shuffle squat with toe touch [B].

Scale up: Touch your toes with the opposite arm while performing the squat [B].

Scale down: Do the shuffle at a slower pace.

10. Flutter kick

Works abs and hip flexors

Flutter kick [A].

Lie on your back, hands tucked under butt to cushion hips. Alternatively, place a towel under hips for comfort. Extend and raise both legs to 45 degrees, then move both legs in an alternating scissors-like motion. Keep head down and avoid tensing the neck [A].


Flutter kick with raised head [B].

Scale up: Lift neck off ground to 45 degrees and place hands behind head for support [B].


Flutter kick with legs higher than 45 degrees [C].

Scale down: Raise legs higher (more than 45 degrees), ensuring tension on the abs without too much stress on the lower back [C].