Fitness Tips,  Home Workouts

This 30-Day Workout Challenge Can Help Improve Your Health in 5 Minutes

Most people see January as the month for adopting fresh changes and new challenges. But personally, I’ve always found September to be a more transformative month. When I was a kid, it was the start of a new school year with different classes, teachers, and peers. And as an adult, it’s the month that I leave the nonchalant, laid-back days of summer behind and roll up my sleeves to finish the year strong.

One way or another, September always ends up being the month that big things happen.

This year, I thought I would embrace this historically transitional month with a new 30-day workout challenge.

Only, mini-sized because I want it to be a fun and easy win!

Want to join me?

(Disclaimer: the content in this article is for informational/entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always check with your doctor before starting and/or changing your exercise regime.)

The “Fit-Fiver” 30-Day Mini Workout Challenge

Here’s how the challenge works.

No equipment is required so you can do it anywhere, anytime.

Once a day — preferably the same time every day — set a timer on your phone for five minutes.

As soon as you start the timer, do the following exercises back-to-back, as quickly as you can with good form:

  • Jumping jacks x 20
  • Pushups x 10
  • Squat jumps x 10
  • Plank ups x 10
  • Bicycle Crunches x 10

When you finish your bicycle crunches, start again with jumping jacks and keep cycling through the exercises until your phone’s timer goes off.

That’s it! Easy peasy, right?

Why Bother With a Five Minute Workout?

I know what you’re thinking:

Really, Corrie? Five minutes a day? Is that really going to do anything?

Yes, yes it is.

In fact, there are several compelling incentives to participate in this challenge:

1. Staves Off Weight Gain

Studies show that mini-workouts can be beneficial to your health and fitness. In fact, researchers from the University of Utah discovered that even fleeting bursts of high-intensity activity could be as beneficial for cutting obesity risk as workouts that are 10 or more minutes.

The same study concluded that each daily minute of high-intensity exercise reduced the chances of obesity by 5% for women and 2% for men.

2. Improves Focus

Research shows that even 2 minutes of exercise is enough to bolster your focus — for up to two hours!

That may be because exercise releases dopamine — the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and reward. Some research suggests dopamine can increase attentiveness, which is conducive to better productivity.

So if you’ve got to hunker down and get some work done, bust out the Fit Fiver beforehand and you’ll be surprised at how well you’ll be able to concentrate.

(I plan on doing mine roughly an hour after lunch to stave off that dreaded 3 p.m. energy slump.)

3. Smashes Excuses

Don’t have a gym? No equipment is required, so you don’t need one!

Don’t feel like changing into workout gear? Work out in whatever you’re wearing, whether it be pajamas, work clothes, or a potato sack!

Don’t have time? C’mon, you have five minutes. I spend longer than five minutes just mindlessly scrolling on Instagram every morning.

You probably spent longer than five minutes just reading this thing.

The beauty of such a short, simple challenge is that it’s 100% doable for just about anyone.

4. Can Boost Mood

I admit I can’t find any scientific studies to prove five minutes of exercise is enough to boost your mood.

But anecdotally, I can tell you it’s true based on my own experience. The sense of accomplishment I feel after even one set up pushups is enough to bring a lift to my day.

Just try it and see if I’m wrong!

5. Gateway to Harder Exercise

Don’t be surprised if you finish your five minutes and feel like you want to keep going. Exercise begets more exercise!

It can also provide the framework for a daily exercise habit that stays with you beyond the 30-day challenge.

Of course, if all you feel like doing is five minutes throughout the challenge, that’s totally fine. I’m just saying, if the urge to do more overtakes you, don’t fight it!

Workout Breakdown

All that’s left before you embark on this mini workout challenge is to make sure you understand what the exercises are and how to do them properly. So here’s a quick and dirty rundown of each move.

I also offer modifications for each exercise to make them easier or harder.

Remember, the goal is to work as hard as you can for five minutes with good form.

If you find the exercises really hard, don’t worry. In fact, celebrate (after you recover) because the fact that you’re struggling means you’re maximizing the efficiency of your five minutes!

Jumping Jacks

I probably don’t need to explain this one since we all did them as kids in Phys. Ed. class, but just in case:

Start by standing with your feet together and hands by your sides. Jump your legs out to the side and simultaneously clap your hands above your head, then jump back to the starting position. Each out-and-in jump is one rep.

To make it easier: You don’t have to jump your legs out as far or reach your hands all the way above your head.

To make it harder: Try crossover-behind-the-back jacks. For these, when you jump back to the start position, cross one foot in front of the other and clap your hands behind your back.


Start in plank position, with your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart. Pulling your abs in and keeping your tailbone tucked, bend your arms to lower your chest towards the ground. (Your elbows should be pointing out at a 45-degree angle from your body.)

Lower until the upper part of your arm is parallel to the ground, then push yourself back to the starting position.

To make it easier: Decrease the resistance by doing the pushups on your knees or on an incline against a bench, couch, or counter. Whichever variation you do, remember to keep your tailbone tucked and your core tight!

To make it harder: Try plyo pushups. Push with enough force that your hands leave the floor for just a moment before lowering into your next pushup.

Squat Jumps

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, or just more than hip-width apart. Keeping your chest up and core tight, bend your knees and lower your tush towards the ground as though you’re about to sit back on a bench.

Lower down until your thighs are about parallel to the ground, then push up to jump off the ground with explosive force. Land softly with a slightly bent knee and sink right back down into your squat.

To make it easier: You can either decrease the resistance by not lowering down as far, or you can take out the jump and focus on increasing your range of motion.

To make it harder: Go below parallel before jumping.

Plank Ups:

Start in plank position, with your hands flat on the ground right under your shoulders, your tailbone tucked, and your abs engaged.

Lower yourself onto your right forearm, then your left forearm, so you are in a low plank. Then use your right arm first to push yourself back up into plank. Repeat, going down on the left forearm first.

To make it easier: Decrease the resistance by doing the plank ups on your knees. Just remember to keep that tailbone tucked!

To make it harder: Plank with your feet together to decrease stability.

Bicycle Crunches

To do a bicycle crunch, lay down on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your ears and curl your shoulders off the ground.

Keeping your eyes on the ceiling and your neck relaxed, rotate your torso so your left armpit moves towards your right knee while extending the left leg. Then alternate, straightening your right leg and bringing in your right armpit to your left knee.

To make it easier: You can extend your legs at a higher angle to decrease the resistance.

To make it harder: Try it keeping both legs straight throughout the movement.

Ready, Set, Go!

Ready to tackle September head-on together with this mini workout challenge? After all, 300 seconds a day is totally doable, and it benefits both your health and mind.

Have fun with it, and you’ll be surprised at how five minutes of exertion can transform your day!

And at the end of 30 days, who knows?

You may just want to keep going.

Originally published on

Corrie Alexander is a former ISSA-certified personal trainer, home fitness advocate, and founder of The Fit Careerist. A proponent of personal growth and a self-proclaimed fitness app-junkie, Corrie shares tips and product reviews with the goal of helping others on their own fitness journey.

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