Forget weights — I tried this 30-minute workout to get in shape

a woman doing forward lunges
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I'm the first to admit that at the end of a long day, the lure of the couch makes it hard to focus on home workouts. But there are days I can't fit in a full gym session, so if I want to do any exercise at all, it'll need to be in my living room. 

On those days, I scour YouTube to find a high-intensity cardio routine or strength circuit I can do with my adjustable dumbbells. During one recent search, I found fitness trainer Growingannanas' no-repeats, equipment-free workout. 

While I usually subscribe to the idea that if something is worth doing once then it’s worth doing it for three sets, I’ve been looking for ways to spice up my regimen lately. I figured now was as good a time as any to give this popular no-repeats workout trend a go.  

As I found while doing this session, it works best for those with intermediate or advanced fitness levels. If you’ve just started to exercise regularly, you may be better off with this beginner bodyweight workout instead. 

What is Growingannana’s 30-minute no-repeat workout?

As the workout's name suggests, you'll exercise for 30 minutes, with a short cool-down at the end. There's no warm-up, so it's worth giving this 5-exercise warm-up a go before you start to get your muscles moving and blood pumping. 

It's arranged as a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine, where you exercise intensely for short bursts with minimal rest. The workout is split into three rounds, where the exercise period drops from 40 to 30 seconds, then 20 seconds by the third round, with a 10-second rest between moves. 

You'll do plenty of classic bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks, with some variations to keep things interesting. You won't need any equipment, but rolling out one of the best yoga mats can help make the session a bit more comfortable. 

I tried this 30-minute no-repeats workout — here’s my verdict

Knowing that I'd only need to do one set of burpees was enough to pique my interest, so I decided to set aside half an hour and give it a go. Here's what I thought after trying Growingannanas’ routine.

1. It's not a beginners workout

I often come across so-called "beginner-friendly" workouts that are anything but. That's why I was so pleased to see Growingannanas' transparency on this routine's difficulty. 

She clearly states that it’s for intermediate or advanced levels in both the video’s title and description, and adds a disclaimer to take more rest in between exercises if needed — this is useful, as it's all too easy to overtrain accidentally when you're working to a timer. 

Moreover, her assessments are accurate — I’ve been exercising consistently for the better part of twenty years, and this workout’s structure and exercise programming felt very appropriate for my abilities. Nothing was impossibly hard, and nothing was too entry-level. 

There aren't any modifications, but that's not surprising given the difficulty level. Still, it would be good to see a few low-impact alternatives to burpees or star jumps to make it a bit easier on the joints if you have sore knees or hips.

2. There are plenty of plank variations

If you get bored doing the same moves over and over again, a no-repeat routine could be ideal. But keep in mind there are only so many exercises you can actually do without equipment in 30 minutes. 

It’s almost guaranteed that your no-repeats workout will take a basic exercise, like a lunge, and repurpose it in several different forms. Such was the case with this workout, especially where planks were involved.

I love planks as much as the next personal trainer for working your whole body and boosting core strength, but this session goes quite heavy on the plank variations, and it did quickly get mentally and physically exhausting.

Unless your form is solid and your endurance level is high, too many repetitions of one exercise can cause the right muscles to totally fatigue and force the wrong muscles to start compensating, which can ultimately lead to injury. So, if you feel your form break, it's time to take a rest.

3. It really got my heart pumping

According to my Apple Watch, I usually burn around 250 calories during a typical 30-minute cardio session. Although counting calories isn't the best way to lose weight, the number on my watch is at least a useful relative measure of my workout's intensity. 

By the time I finished this routine, I had burned 321 calories. That was quite a jump from the number I’m used to seeing, and while the workout was challenging, it didn’t feel appreciably harder than what I usually do. 

Of course, your exercise routine shouldn't solely focus on calories — boosting your fitness, working your muscles, and feeling good are all worthy goals too. But if I'm ever short on time and need a routine that packs a punch, I now know where to go.

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Jennifer Rizzuto

Jennifer Rizzuto is a freelance writer and certified personal trainer based in Long Island, NY. She covers various fitness-related topics and reviews for Tom's Guide. She also writes sketch comedy and short films, and performs frequently as an actor, singer, and improviser. When she's not writing, working out, or performing, you'll find her trying to convince her husband to get a dog.