A Case for Mini Workouts

These days everyone is short on time.  Most are content to allow the daily grind and family time to fill their days while lamenting about the fact that they have no time for working out.  The complaints are common and heard often.  But somehow these same people are able to find time to watch an hour or more of TV every night before going to bed.  Now, I’m not going to ask you to forego your Thursday night Lost episode in favor of hitting the gym for an hour, so don’t worry – just using the ability to watch TV as an example of “finding time”.  While it may be a stretch for many people to find 45 minutes to an hour each day for exercise or martial arts training, how about just finding 5 minutes?  Surely everyone can find a spare 5 minutes even a few times a day, right???

Recently, as my own daily grind has become busier and busier, I have been finding just how effective mini workouts can be to fill in the gaps in one’s training.  These types of workouts are often overlooked because their brevity.  How can one possibly get a complete workout in 5 minutes?!  Well, you can’t.  But that’s not the point.  The effects of mini workouts is cumulative.  In other words, they add up over time.  They are not meant to completely replace your regular training, they are meant to enhance it and compliment it.  They are an effective way to keep yourself on track and focused while short on time.  Remember, the goal of the mini workout is not to be too complicated or over-involved.  Make them short, sweet, and to the point!

Examples of Mini Workouts

Here are just a few ideas I’ve found that make ideal mini workouts:

  • 10 push-ups + 10 v-ups + 10 squats (repeat 3 x’s)
  • Finger tip push-ups (see how many you can do)
  • Tabata exercises (pick any one)
  • 5 Kettlebell Snatches (each side) + 5 Kettlebell Swings (each side) + 10 Hindu Push-ups (repeat 3 x’s)
  • Isometrics
  • Breathing exercises
  • Joint mobility work
  • Pull-ups (5-4-3-2-1 rep scheme)

Mini Workouts for Martial Arts

The mini workout should be an essential aspect of any martial artist’s training.  It is said that great martial artists are training all the time.  Well known and respected masters from Musashi to Tesshu to Ueshiba toHatsumi Soke have constantly extolled the importance of solo-training and dedicated practice.  While mini workouts do not form a complete picture of solo- training, they do play an important role.  In the future, I’ll be sharing a more extensive look at solo-training for martial arts, particularly for Bujinkan practitioners.  But for now, here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Ukemi practice – mix up rolls, change directions freely, roll over obstacles
  • San Shin no Kata
  • Solo flow drill – move continuously for 5 minutes. Flow from strikes to kicks to leaps to rolls, from kamae to kamae – be creative!
  • Kamae work in a mirror
  • Striking practice
  • Junan taiso (see above!)

Make sure to make time for mini workouts!


Jon Haas is a certified Underground Strength Coach and has been involved in the martial arts for over 30 years. He has been training in the Budō Taijutsu arts of the Bujinkan for more than 22 years and is currently ranked as a Kudan (9th degree black belt) under Jack Hoban Shidōshi.
Jon is the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for VX Global and is a certified VX Sport Coach.

He is the owner and founder of Warrior Fitness Training Systems and author of the book, Warrior Fitness: Conditioning for Martial Arts.

Jon Haas is also a certified conflict resolutions specialist through Resolution Group International (RGI)

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  1. Hi Jon,
    Your articles always give me a great “Buyu Feeling”.Your mini workout ideas are terrific.With all these great ideas…sounds like volume ll of “Warrior Fitness”is just about due.
    I refer to my workouts as “training sessions”.My favorites are Saturday and Sunday mornings…usually at 0-dark early.Saturday it’s a “stealth swim”across a local harbor using wetsuit,fins and inflatable boogie board.
    Sundays it’s kayaking for about 90 plus minutes.These type of workouts are “solo”for the most part.Difficult to find training partners who are willing to get up before the sun rises.Take care!

  2. Great article, Jon.

    Personally, I can’t stand when people are amazed at how many activities I do and tell me they don’t have time to do anything. Every single one of them spends a ridiculous amount of time watching TV. What an absolute waste! If you are watching more than maybe 4 hours of TV a week (not including football season, of course!) then you have no excuse for not being able to find time to do other things.

    And I don’t know how many times I’ve recommended people do mirror training to improve their kamae and Sanshin no Kata. You have to put in hundreds of hours of mirror time to get good, yet people just don’t want to do it. It’s hard to feel bad for them, to be honest.


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