This trainer's 10-minute, full-body workout is designed for mid-lifers who are short on time

Struggling to find time to work out? This exclusive six move workout is all you need

A 40-year old woman doing a dumbbell workout in the gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We all know that exercise is the key to living a long and healthy life. Not only does it have a positive effect on your mood, but it can strengthen bones and ward off chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

Unfortunately, midlife (roughly the period between your 40s and 60s) often throws up obstacles that make it hard to exercise. It's tricky to find time to work out when you're looking after kids, focusing on your career or going through peri-menopause. The solution? Short workouts that you can do with minimal equipment. 

"You are more likely to stick with exercise if it’s a short routine," says Caroline Idiens, a personal trainer and expert in midlife exercise, who created the Caroline’s Circuits online platform. 

“However, as we enter midlife, it’s important to introduce strength-training and compound functional exercises. These mimic everyday activities and work more than one muscle group simultaneously, building strength, mobility, balance and performance.”

Idiens has crafted this 10-minute, six-move dumbbell workout exclusively for Fit&Well, which features foundational push, pull, squat, hinge and carry movements that will help you build functional strength

Caroline Idiens
Caroline Idiens

Caroline Idiens is a personal trainer with more than 20 years’ experience, and is an expert in fitness during midlife. Idiens is also the founder of Caroline's Circuits, an online strength-training platform where she hosts live and pre-recorded classes for members.

The workout

  • Weighted goblet squats: 10-12 repetitions
  • Press-ups: 10-12 repetitions
  • Bent-over row: 10-12 repetitions
  • Lunge with rotation: 10-12 repetitions
  • Biceps curl into shoulder press: 10-12 repetitions
  • Suitcase carry: 30-60 seconds

After completing the required number of repetitions of an exercise, rest for 30 seconds then move onto the next one. When you've worked through the full list of exercises, take a one minute breather, then repeat the whole sequence two more times.

The exercises

1. Weighted goblet squat

Caroline Idiens performs a weighted goblet squat

(Image credit: Caroline Idiens)

Reps: 10-12 Sets: 3

How to: Start with feet wider than hip-width apart and your weight sunk into your heels. Hold a dumbbell close to your chest. Keep your chest lifted and your shoulders back. Move down into your squat so that hips are in line with your knees. Pause before powering back up to a standing position.

"Squatting is a movement we do often in daily life, therefore squats are a fabulous compound movement which primarily work the leg muscles, but also has a focus on core and upper body," says Idiens. "Use a weight which is right for you—the last two reps should feel challenging."

2. Press-up

Caroline Idiens performs a press-up

(Image credit: Caroline Idiens)

Reps: 10-12 Sets: 3

How to: Start on your knees with your hands on the floor beneath your shoulders. Bending at the elbow, bring your chest down to the floor in one movement. Your elbows should be behind you. Once you’ve lowered yourself to the floor, press through your hands back to the starting position. Keep your head in line with your spine and aim to keep the back straight and core engaged. Once you've mastered press-ups on your knees you can progress to your toes.

"Another compound movement, a press up will help to build upper body strength as it uses the chest, shoulder, and core muscles," explains Idiens. "Press ups are not only fundamental for strengthening our muscles, they also help with bone and joint health. And because they engage multiple muscles they are good for improving cardiovascular health."

3. Bent over row

Caroline Idiens performs bent-over row

(Image credit: Caroline Idiens)

Reps: 10-12 Sets: 3

How to: Hold a weight in both hands with your palms facing in. Hinge at the hips to a 45-degree angle. Keep your core tight and back straight, with your head in line with your spine—ensure you’re not rounding at the back. Move the dumbbells backwards towards your back pockets, squeezing your shoulder blades together before moving slowly back to the starting position.

"How often do we bend over to pick something up in our day to day lives? A lot, and this is one of the best exercises to build a strong back and reduce the risk of injuries," says Idiens. "You can do these with just bodyweight to start and ensure the weight is challenging without compromising on form."

4. Lunge with rotation

Caroline Idiens performs a lunge with rotation

(Image credit: Caroline Idiens)

Reps: 10-12 Sets: 3

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, take a big step forward with the right leg. As you come down into a lunge position with knees at 90-degrees, rotate the upper body away from the front knee. Hold a weight for extra resistance and ensure the front knee doesn't creep inwards. Drive through the front heel every time you step back to the start and alternate the legs each time.

"Often in midlife we turn quickly and that is when we feel a twinge in our back," says Idiens. "Lunges are a powerful compound exercises for the legs but adding a rotation at the waist is good for strengthening through the core."

5. Biceps curl into shoulder press

Reps: 10-12 Sets: 3

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart with a weight in each hand, palms facing forward. Do the biceps curl first by bending the arm at the elbow to bring the weights up in one movement towards your shoulders. Keep knees soft and engage your midline muscles. Once here, rotate your wrists to face forwards before pushing the weights up over your head. Bring them slowly back down to your shoulders, rotate the wrists back to face inwards and lower back down.

"This exercise supports all the lifting and carrying we do in everyday life like carrying shopping bags, picking up children and reaching up into cupboards," says Idiens.

6. Suitcase carry

Caroline Idiens demonstrates a suitcase carry

(Image credit: Caroline Idiens)

Time: 30-60 secs Sets: 3

How to: This move is simply walking with weights in both hands at arm's length. Keep your core strong and maintain a straight back throughout, with shoulders back and chest lifted. You can adjust the weight you carry and/or the time or distance to ensure it stays challenging.

"Also known as a Farmers Walk, this very simple exercise is often overlooked, but it actually targets your entire body. It’s also excellent for posture and strengthening the core and grip strength," says Idiens.

Why bite-size is better

The seven-minute workout gained traction a few years ago when an article published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal argued that a fast, high-intensity workout of just seven minutes could produce many of the same benefits as a longer workout. 

Other research has also suggested that short sharp workouts are as effective as longer sessions. For example, one small study in PLOS ONE showed that sprint interval training (SIT) for one minute of intense exercise within a 10-minute time frame could reap similar cardiometabolic benefits as 45 minutes of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT). 

"People perform to their best ability when there is a shorter time frame, plus they are less likely to get bored, and they often work at a higher intensity than they would in an hour long class," says Idiens. 

Her ten-minute workout series, In Ten, is available on Use the code picknmix20 for a 20 per cent discount on your membership. 

Vicki-Marie Cossar

Vicki-Marie Cossar is a UK-based freelance journalist who has more than 20 years experience writing across the topics of health, fitness, fashion, beauty and wellbeing. She was formerly responsible for the Life & Style section of Metro’s features department (now called Trends) and currently writes Metro’s weekly Wellbeing supplement.