Can I Break My Workout Into Shorter Sessions?

Ask the trainer: Can I break my workout into shorter sessions?

Can I break my workout into shorter sessions kelly bailey fitness kelly bailey wellness.png

Good news: YES!!!

In fact, breaking your workout into shorter sessions and spreading them throughout the day may actually be more beneficial than a single longer session!

Here’s why:

You’ll avoid “one-and-done” syndrome. The idea of exercising for 30 to 60 minutes in a single session sounds good…until you’re actually doing it. For exercise newbies, the experience can be so awful that they quickly burn out and decide never to exercise again.

If exercise leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you’re probably doing too much too soon. Breaking your workout into shorter, more manageable sessions can help you get through the initial shock of adding exercise to your routine, stave off boredom, and you might even enjoy it…which is key to making any habit stick!

You’ll avoid “I’m-a-failure-again” syndrome. It happens to all of us. The day gets away from you or you didn’t sleep well the night before or one of your kids came home from school sick…whatever the situation, you end up skipping your workout and doing nothing at all. Bring on the guilt.

The beauty of breaking a workout into shorter sessions is twofold: when you’ve had a rough day it’s “mentally easier” to commit to doing something for 10 minutes vs. 30 or 60, and since you probably did 10 minutes of something earlier in the day, it means you completed at least part of your workout. Sure, it wasn’t the whole thing…but it’s better than nothing…and that’s a WIN!

You’ll avoid “flat-ass” syndrome. Have you ever heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? It’s actually not the sitting that’s so bad for us…it’s the stagnation caused by lack of any movement at all that causes health problems (and weak butt muscles).

Scheduling short bouts of exercise encourages movement throughout the day. Not only is this great for your health, studies also prove that workers who are encouraged to take breaks and move during the day are happier and more productive! Happy, healthy, and motivated employees…your boss can’t argue with that!

It may be helpful for weight loss. I couldn’t come up with a syndrome for this one, but it’s worth noting that you burn the same amount of calories whether you complete a 30-minute session all at once or break it into three separate 10-minute sessions. Interestingly, breaking exercise into shorter sessions and timing them correctly – right after meals – may be more helpful for fat loss than a single, longer session!

It turns out that taking a short brisk walk of only 10 to 15 minutes right after a meal can decrease your insulin response to that meal by up to 40%. That’s huge! Insulin is the hormone that tells your body to store calories from the food you eat as fat. The less insulin you have circulating in your blood, the fewer calories will be partitioned into storage! This is also a great strategy for Type 2 diabetics to help control insulin response to meals!


There is always a downside to any method. Breaking your workouts into shorter sessions will probably not work in the following scenarios:

Specific sports training. If you are training for something specific like a half-marathon or triathlon it is important that you train your body to perform for a longer duration. The only way to do that is to actually perform over progressively longer times/distances.

Gym time. If you work out at a gym it’s probably unrealistic to get dressed and drive to the gym for a 10-minute workout, three times per day. Breaking your workouts into shorter sessions works best if you are walking outside or working out at home. (That said, if you use cardio machines at the gym, it can really stave off boredom if you break your workout into shorter 10-minute chunks and use different cardio machines!)

Lifestyle. Exercise should fit your life. If you find that it works better for you to complete your entire workout in a single session, you should do that! There really is no right or wrong…as long as you do something!