The 1% Body Workout Concept By Arnold Schwarzenegger

Is a 15-minute body workout a day sufficient?

The concept of the 1% body workouts became popular thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.

The idea is that it takes only 15 minutes a day to maintain good tone and to get rid of excess body fat. Without special equipment. Is it really so?

The idea behind the 1% body workout

Fifteen minutes a day can be your drastic change to better health. Only 1% of your daily life is enough to maintain good shape and to reduce the excess body fat.

This may sound naive and even funny to professional athletes, but this type of training is based on metabolic resistance training, and the load can be changed according to the athlete’s experience.

The basic idea is to include own body weight workouts to repeat them at home, on business trips, without additional equipment; they are appropriate for busy people, etc.

I’m talking about exercises that are short, but intense, the ones that speed up metabolism and burn more fat while maintaining good muscle tone.

You can, of course, include free weights, resistance bands, and other accessories – this is for the more advanced enthusiasts.

Body workout

MRT – Metabolic Resistance Training

A term is combining different exercises that simultaneously load the muscular system with cardio elements.

The resistance can be done with own body weight, bands, free weights or rods – a matter of personal choice, experience and goals.

MRT can be circular workouts, supersets, a combination of own body weight and free weights.

The intensity is high – fast speed when doing the positive (concentric) part, slower in the concentric (for extra muscle load) and short breaks.

It is good the movements to engage more muscles, and basically the large groups, in order the workout to be energy consuming.

Open and closed kinetic circuits

They are an important part of the body workout, taking only 15 minutes of your schedule, and they mainly involve movements from a closed kinetic chain.

I will not look these workouts into detail, but I will just note the main points.

The kinetic circuit is a combination of several kinetic pairs that are connected to each other.

The kinetic pair actually represents two bones connected together through a joint – they move relative to one another.

  • The open kinetic circuit is such a circuit where the last kinetic circuit is free. The movements of this group are bicep curl, skull crusher, barbell bench press, leg extension and leg curl.
  • When the kinetic circuit is closed, there is some external resistance which impedes the movement. Independent movements in the individual units are not possible and motion in one joint causes movements in several other ones. Examples: push-ups, pull-ups, dips, squats, deadlift, lunges.

You see that the movements in the closed kinetic chain include the use of multiple joints and several muscle groups – in some cases as basic ones, in others as assisting and stabilizing.

There is a difference how the exercises in an open and closed kinetic circuit affect your body – the muscles and the nervous system.

That is why 1% workouts are based mainly on the second type of kinetic circuits – to provoke a high muscle load (and hypertrophy, if appropriate stimuli are present) and burn more fat as the movements themselves are heavier, more energy-consuming and causing faster metabolism than those from the open kinetic chain.

An example of 1% body workout

This example of body workout is made up of six exercises with own weight.

The number of repetitions, breaks and total circles may vary depending on how advanced you are.

Implement them one after another in several consecutive sets.


The number of reps:

  • squats – 8-10
  • push-ups – 5-8
  • plank- 15 seconds
  • jumping jacks – 15
  • reverse lunges – 6 a foot
  • glute bridge – 10

Number of sets: 4

Break between exercises: 30 seconds

Break between the sets: 90 seconds

Moderately advanced

The number of reps:

  • squats – 10
  • push-ups – 8
  • plank- 25 seconds
  • jumping jacks – 15
  • reverse lunges – 6 a foot
  • glute bridge – 10

Number of sets: 5

Break between exercises: 20 seconds

Break between sets: 75-90 seconds

Lunges 1 percent body workout


The number of reps:

  • squats – 10
  • push-ups – 8
  • plank – 35 seconds
  • jumping jacks – 15
  • reverse lunges – 6 inches
  • glute bridge – 10

Number of sets: 6

Break between exercises: 20 seconds

Break between the sets: 75 seconds


The number of reps:

  • squats – 15
  • push-ups – 11-13
  • plank – 45 seconds
  • jumping jacks – 22-25
  • reverse lunges- 9/11 on foot
  • glute bridge – 13-15

Number of sets: 4

Break between exercises: 30 seconds

Break between sets: 90 seconds


  • no special equipment is needed – the workouts can be done at home, in the yard, in the park;
  • suitable for people who cannot spend enough time for longer activities;
  • the ideal way to maintain good tone while on a business trip when there is no other more convenient option;
  • a good start for beginners who want to get rid of excess fat;
  • effective for busy mothers;
  • these workouts have their place in deload


  • would be inappropriate for professional bodybuilders or very trained athletes, seeking specialization for specific muscle groups;

Ideas for application

  • If you think that the 1% workouts will have a good impact on your everyday life, pay attention to the movements technique (especially for beginners).
  • For the advanced athletes, looking for diversity and bigger load – add free weights to the complexes.
  • This type of body workout can be turned into a different cardio option after your main load – select appropriate movements in line with your already practiced muscles groups and perform them with small breaks and your own
  • Choose movements including multiple joints that activate a larger number of large muscle groups.
  • Find a convenient place to train and get a watch/stopwatch to record the time for breaks accurately.
  • Choose comfortable shoes (I would train barefoot when doing own body weight exercises at home).