You can target the entire body in just 9 minutes with this simple 3-move workout

This short workout is the perfect way to get moving when you don’t have time for a full session

Mark Lauren doing leg kick-out for nine minute workout
(Image credit: Mark Lauren)

If there’s one excuse we’re all guilty of using when it comes to skipping the gym, it’s that there isn’t enough time in the day to workout. With busy social lives and lots of us returning to the office, finding an hour or two to fit in a session can be difficult.

Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of time for a seriously effective workout. In fact, a 2022 study by Edith Cowan University found that exercising for just ten minutes on a regular basis is better for your health than doing long workouts less frequently, especially when it comes to muscle growth.

So, even if you've just got home from the office, you probably have time for a quick workout, especially when it takes just nine minutes and doesn't require any equipment. That's the case with this time-efficient session from Mark Lauren, the internationally recognized bodyweight training expert and author. 

“The biggest fitness mistake is doing too much, especially for beginners, which is what keeps them from being consistent with their training,” Lauren tells Fit&Well. “By doing just enough to make long-term progress, users are able to stay consistent by maximizing the reward and minimizing the cost in terms of pain, energy, and time.”

This workout is made up of three exercises repeated three times, so it’s super simple and great for people looking to improve their overall fitness and core strength. All you need is some open space and potentially a yoga mat, so check out our guide to the best yoga mats here. 

To complete the workout, repeat each exercise three times for 30 seconds, with a ten-second break in between. 

Workout provided by
Mark Lauren
Workout provided by
Mark Lauren

Mark Lauren spent fifteen years as a military physical-training specialist for the social operations community. A triathlete, bodybuilder, and a champion Thai boxer, Mark is now a sought-after personal trainer for governments, trainers, and men and women of all fitness levels. He is the author of the internationally popular body-weight bibles: You Are Your Own Gym, Body By You, and Body Fuel.

Nine-minute equipment-free workout

1. Parallel leg crunch

  • Lie on your back with your legs elevated and your hips, knees, and ankles bent at ninety degrees. Your arms can be resting above you in a Y position.
  • Inhale and reach up with both arms as high as you can.
  • Exhale and lower yourself slowly, bringing your arms down to into the Y position while keeping your lower back in contact with the floor. 

Tip: Fully flex your ankles during the movement so your toes are pointing towards your face. This improves ankle mobility and your ability to control hip rotation.

2. Kickouts

  • Start in a crawling position with your hands a couple of inches in front of your knees. Elevate your knees off the floor slightly.
  • Inhale and rotate your knees to the left about forty-five degrees, and then raise your left hand and right foot off the floor. 
  • Exhale and continue rotating until you are able to fully extend the right leg in front of you (see last slide in the image gallery above).
  • In the kickout position, point the toes of the extended leg straight up to the sky. Let your hips rest on your supporting leg and lift your chest slightly. 
  • Reset to the starting position with your knees close to your hands, then switch sides. 

Tip: After each kickout, as you reset to the quadruped starting position, place your feet so that your knees remain close to your hands. This makes the exercise slightly easier while teaching you to pay attention to your footwork.  

3. High knee march

Mark Lauren performing high knee march

(Image credit: Mark Lauren)
  • March in place. 
  • Stand up tall and straight, keep your feet parallel and find a steady pace. 
  • Get your knees up high and use a strong arm swing while keeping your elbows bent at ninety degrees.  

Tip:  With each step, fully extend through the supporting leg while lifting your chest slightly and keeping your midsection tight to prevent your back from arching. This basic movement pattern has a lot of useful carry over to real-life activities when done properly. 

This workout will get your heart rate up and build core strength, so you can come back to it on a regular basis to see how your fitness has progressed. According to Lauren, this workout helps develop posture and individual joint functions. 

“Many of us are sitting most hours of the day with our hips, spine, and shoulders in the same positions,” he says. “With the right selection of movements, it doesn’t take much to relieve the cumulative stress of modern life.”

You could use this workout as a fun way to end a strength session or incorporate it into a longer full-body workout. Bodyweight training has lots of benefits — a 2021 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that interval-style bodyweight training can improve cardiorespiratory fitness. So bookmark this workout for next time you want to get moving quickly. 

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.