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I want to get into exercise for my own personal well-being and fitness, and I don't want to do 'target' exercise (which I know doesn't work) but rather I want to improve my physical endurance so that I feel less tired during the day.

I would like to fit this into my morning routine, but I know that I occasionally oversleep, or have to prepare something before going to work, and sometimes I have as little as 5 minutes to try to squeeze in an exercise routine. But I would like to do something regularly so that I can make it into a habit, with the goal of doing more as I improve.

What exercise routine can I fit into a 5-minute morning exercise to help improve my physical endurance? Currently, I'm using sit-ups as my go-to exercise (cross-body, not arms behind the head) and considering adding push-ups too, but is there anything better? Or something that could exercise parts of my body that sit-ups might miss?

Keep in mind I don't have any equipment, and my apartment space is very limited, plus I want to be able to do this routine even if I have to go away on a trip.

I plan on doing the same exercise in the evening as well, and to increase the time I do my exercise steadily as I improve, but to do that, I have to be able to fit a bare-minimum routine into my morning first.

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    While 5 minutes is an OK start, I'd seriously look at carving out more time. If you can get even 2 days with an hour each, you can get a lot more benefit out of your exercise time. In the mean time I'd look at ways to build more exercise time into your normal day like take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk briskly, etc. – Berin Loritsch May 28 '15 at 16:12
  • @BerinLoritsch I agree, which is why I have been taking the stairs, walking briskly around the office during breaks, and walking outside during my lunch even when I'm not going to get anything from the outdoor vendors. And I do plan to scale up. But I also intend to make it a daily routine, not a twice-a-week routine. – Zibbobz May 28 '15 at 16:32
  • Burpees en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burpee_%28exercise%29 – paparazzo May 28 '15 at 22:55
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What not to do

First off, if you're doing situps on the floor, stop it immediately. Floor situps are harmful for your back, and provide little to no effect in terms of abdominal muscle growth.

While pushups are more beneficial, I have to start by saying that 5 minutes isn't enough time to do any work from which to enjoy physical benefits. It might serve as a wake-me-up, but nothing more.

What to do

My advice would be to do the plank instead, if you are looking to engage your core musculature. It will tighten your abs, back, chest, glutes, shoulders, and a whole bunch of other muscles if done right.

If you want a full-body workout, you're going to have to do more than just a few exercises. Here is a list of some good ones. You obviously don't have to do all 50, but try to do one or two from each section whenever you do get down. There is enough here to provide a good bit of variety, and anyone will tell you that variation is one of the key aspects of a good workout regimen.

As far as I can tell, the list only contains one sit-up (all the way at the bottom), but it's a variation that's not entirely disagreeable. I could write an article on why floor sit-ups are bad for you (maybe in another thread), but right now, this seems like a good place to start.

  • +1 for suggesting exercises that can be done without equipment. I am concerned though that your first link is explicitly for 'burning fat' when I don't have any desire to lose weight, and the second suggests crunches 'with hands behind the head', which I've heard nothing but bad news about. And you're right, I need to do more than 5 minutes of exercise a day, but right now I'm doing 0, and I want to set a short-term goal first that I can accomplish no matter what to help get me into the habit of exercising. – Zibbobz May 27 '15 at 16:33
  • @Zibbobz - I should have made that clearer; the plank is not a fat-burning exercise. It's a core-strengthening exercise. I guess they've filed it under "fat loss" because a strong core is crucial to any goals one might have. Even weight loss. But the plank itself does not burn fat. – Alec May 27 '15 at 16:45
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If all you have is 5 minutes and your goal is physical endurance, High Intensity Interval Training exercises are strongly recommended.

Cardio exercises are very good for the heart and when performed with high intensity periodically, they build physical endurance. Also, by nature of HIIT, they are supposed to be performed in a relatively short period. Tabata training, for example, is performed in a 20 seconds high intensity, 10 seconds low intensity for 4 minutes total.

Unless you're interested in purchasing equipments, sprinting, plyometric, and body-weight exercises are your best options.

  • Doesn't tabata need a warmup? – andrewb Jun 2 '15 at 22:42
  • @andrewb It's recommended you warm up before performing any exercise; however, warming up doesn't have to take up much time, especially if the exercises aren't performed after a long period of inactivity such as sleeping. You can have a good warmup in about 30 seconds :). – Kneel-Before-ZOD Jun 2 '15 at 22:47
  • Wow that's a quick warmup! I thought that you'd usually need at least 5 minutes for the warm up alone... – andrewb Jun 3 '15 at 3:21
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I second on Tabata protocol , note however , that the (very good) endurance increase is subject to 2 issues:

1) you should be pretty fit to doing tabata 2) the gains will stall after 3 weeks (or something like that), so you could expect 6 to 12 good training sessions , that will do you good. after that you will gain nothing.

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As other people say HIIT is the best with strict time schedules. Try burpees, it is hard http://youtu.be/1jhRdJTt8sY

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start with at least 20 mins a day and 10 mins of warm up before that, don't bullshit yourself everyone can find 30 mins in the day to exercise, you won't sweat in 5 minutes of bullshit. burpees, push ups, squats, star jumps, skipping rope, shadow boxing you name it you can do it. do crunches instead of sit ups, sit ups mainly work the hip flexors which will cause incorrect posture and form, crucnches hand behind head but not joined together, fingers spread apart only really your fingertips touch your head, elbows flared out and wide, neck forward and looking at ceiling.

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Try this:-

  1. Burpees
  2. Jump Squat
  3. Jump Lunges
  4. Pushups
  5. Mountain climbers

Do each exercise for 15 seconds with no rest and as hard as possible ,that way a circuit will take around 1:15 minutes take a 45 seconds break and do 2-3 more sets.

Remember intensity is the key,it should be so hard that at end of it you should be breathing real hard. Also combine this intermittent fasting and good balance diet and you will see good muscle gain.

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