My Fitness Journey

Part 19: The 15-Minute Workout


Can you really get an ‘effective’ workout in just 15 minutes? Of course you can, and I’d go as far as saying that if you do your workout right, then a 15-minute session can be just as good (if not better) than an hour-long sesh.

Let’s face it, 15 minutes is nothing. Everybody can spare a quarter of an hour and if you claim to not have that time spare then you seriously need to sit down and have a word with yourself. Start with the phrase “slow down, find time to exercise and de-stress or you’ll kill yourself!” That should do the trick! If you’re serious about losing weight and keeping in good shape, then you should fit everything in your life around your fitness, not the other way round. However, everybody’s situation is different with regards to work life and family life, so it’s easier said than done. Those serious about seeing results during their fitness journey won’t make excuses though.

I started the 15-minute workouts a couple of weeks ago and really went for it, giving it 100% effort and eating really well all week. I needed to because I went on holiday a week earlier and indulged in one or two (or ten) beers and the usual pub grub (ie/ junk food!) For many of the workouts I’ve been doing, I haven’t needed any equipment, but for others I’ve used either a pair of dumbells or a kettlebell for the Russian swings! I’ll talk more about the specific exercises in a moment, but first let’s talk more about my weight.

Ok then… let’s hit the scales

When I measured myself at the end of week one on my 15-minute workout plan, I had lost 3.5lbs. It was exactly the news I wanted to hear because my ‘overall’ body weight has been hovering around 192-194lbs for a couple of months. That doesn’t mean I hadn’t made any progress at all because I know I had.

You see, as you’ll probably know if you’ve followed my fitness journey so far, I own these Bluetooth scales that break down your whole body weight stats so you can see how much of it is water, muscle, visceral fat and so forth. I had noticed that although my overall body weight was hovering, I was actually losing fat yet gaining muscle… so this would explain the hovering weight.


Example of Bluetooth Scales Data

Example of Bluetooth Scales Data

My advice to anybody taking their weight loss and fitness seriously is to invest in scales that provide information on the composition of your body weight such as fat, muscle, water, bone etcetera. You can get these for £20.00 to £100.00 on Amazon. I think mine cost around £30.00 and they sync with your mobile phone so you can analyse the individual data. 

Simply stand on the scales, open the app on your phone, wait around ten seconds and boom you have the data.

As for how often you should weigh yourself, well, that’s a long debated subject. Some people don’t bother at all, whereas others do it daily or weekly. Personally, I do it once a week as there’s little point in doing it daily as your weight naturally bounces up and down day by day anyway. You can read an article on How Often Should You Weight Yourself here and make your own mind up.

These scales helped prevent me from sliding into deep depression over the past couple of months where I’d noticed that my overall body weight hasn’t changed a great deal. They helped me monitor how well I was performing and how quickly I was bringing down that high BMI.

According to the info here, my BMI is 27.9 and I am borderline obese which I know I am not. However, having used the NHS BMI Healthy Weight Calculator it appears that I’m midway along the yellow overweight scale. OK, it’s only a colour I know, but that colour is what’s preventing me from thinking I’m not making progress. Isn’t it funny how something as minor as a colour chart can affect the way you think and feel about weight loss?

Anyway, back on topic… I saw that after my first week on the 15-minute workout I was making progress, even if those scales showed the same figure at the end of the first week. I saw that my body was changing shape and becoming more muscular, but also, I was feeling much better too which is really important here. Many people think of weight loss as a physical thing whereby your goal is to shift heaps of ugly fat from around your waist. But how you feel is also of huge importance. You want to feel happier, more positive, focused on the day’s tasks, motivated and so on, so never forget that weight loss and fitness is both physical and mental exercise.

Time to Eat

Last week was tough because I had to shake off a little excess timber which I’d piled on from eating calorie-busting easter eggs. So in addition to completing 15-minute workouts, this week I’ve been drinking a lot of shakes; twice a day, one for breakfast and one for dinner. I’ll be honest, it’s been tough because there’s been an urge to eat more a couple of hours later. But I’ve resisted all urges and drank water instead.

There’s no need to purchase expensive shakes such as the ones I tried by Forza (costing over £20) when you can get a pack of ten meal replacement shakes at Tesco for only £4.00 or 2 for £6.00. The nutritional values in terms of calories and protein for example, are virtually identical, so don’t fall for the con!  As for taste, well I think the chocolate, strawberry and raspberry flavours are delicious and they contributed massively to my huge and speedy weightloss last Autumn. (* I’m not paid by anybody to write articles or endorse products – I don’t make a penny, so that’s not an affiliate link to Tesco!)

In addition to the shakes which I had for breakfast and lunch, I’ve had “regular” meals for dinner, including these Slimming World meals; aromatic chicken noodles, chicken in black bean sauce, chicken tikka masala, chicken & chorizo-style sausage paella and Italian pork & beef sausages. To be honest, I could make some of these myself and will have a go at doing so over the next few months, but these “packet meals” are by no means bad for you. The nutritional info is as always on the back and you can get these meals over at Iceland the supermarket. If you’re looking for delicious healthy meals and you’re in a bit of a rush, then these packet meals are great, but don’t confuse these ones with general packet meals which are extremely unhealthy!

The 15-minute workouts & tent building

The HIIT workouts contain two types of sessions; cardio to get your heart pumping and shred fat and weights to help sculpt muscle. The aim is to do one 15-minute workout a day Monday to Friday, although you’re likely to still see results if you did say Monday & Tuesday, rested Wednesday and then did Thursday & Friday (like I did in week one). I make sure that weekends are rest days as I need to allow time for my body to recover and muscles to do their repair work. The fat will still be burning on rest days!

I had a number of different workouts to choose from, so I randomly chose ones that interested me on the day itself and focused on that. Variety is key otherwise you and your body can get into snooze mode; you’ll get bored and lose the motivation. It’s got to be fun and enjoyable, or you’ll quickly give up and that’s why I take each day as it comes.

Chris Brophy's Tent

This past week, I didn’t workout for a couple of days because the ‘active’ work I was doing on those days was very intense. For example, last week I tested out a new 8 man tent in my back garden. Boy was it physically and mentally challenging! Not just in terms of putting up the tent but ‘managing’ the other family members who were helping me. I spent the entire day in and out of the thing, setting up new equipment in there, running to the shops for other equipment I needed, coming back to set up, blowing up the camp beds, you name it.

And then I had to do it all again when collapsing it and packing up.  That also was a challenge because we couldn’t get the tent back in the bag, so it took several stressful attempts during which time I’ve moaned, stomped my feet, thrown a tent pole and almost killed the family with a rubber mallet (I mean that as a joke by the way, before you report me for attempted murder!)

So because I was up and down the garden rolling and unrolling a massive tent, I used virtually all of my muscles and gave them quite a battering. I was sore as hell the next day I tell ya, hence why I said I had two days off from fitness. Despite this, I still managed to burn 1600 calories during my tent building activities and lose 1.5lbs. On the other days though, it was full-on HIIT workouts for 15 minutes a day.

So what real exercise did I do?

It’s not the duration of the exercise that matters when it comes to burning fat and toning muscle, it’s the intensity.The workouts I’ve been doing have really pushed me to the max… no breaks, just full-on sweat-breaking muscle-aching workouts for a quarter of an hour a day. The cardio sessions were great and didn’t involve me running on a treadmill in any way. It was all done in the back room of my house doing fast on-the-spot sprints and other cardio. The weights workouts enabled me to start using heavier weights so that I pushed my muscles to limit, to the point where I literally couldn’t do one more rep.

I bought a skipping rope off Amazon, and whilst the sight of a fat(ish) man jumping around in his back garden isn’t a good look, the exercise did me a world of good. Boxers are known for doing a lot of skipping in their workouts, and you don’t see an ounce of fat on them do you!?

A workout named “Combat Stress” required me to do skipping followed by 60 seconds of squat and knee thrusts, front kicks, straight punches, side-kicks and sit ups. Several 60-second moves without rest in between, followed by a 30-second breather after each circuit, then repeat until the 15 minutes is over. Great fun and heart pumping for sure.

An aerobic exercise called “Easy as 1,2,3”  allowed me to keep burning the fat off by targeting my abs, back and glutes. I did planks, sit ups, goblet squats, mountain climbs and more. All very challenging and again in short heart-pumping bursts without any rest. I won’t describe all of the exercises here because I want to write a detailed separate article about the specific exercises I’ve been doing.

What I will say is that if you’re looking to kick-start your own fitness journey, then high-intensity 15-minute workouts are highly recommended. They are challenging of course as all exercise is meant to be, but by varying the actual workout you do day by day, you’re keeping interest levels high and targeting all muscle groups. You’ll stay motivated and see the weight drop off!… that is, if you eat well too.

Chris Brophy August 2016 and April 2017

Chris Brophy August 2016 and April 2017

Look out for the exercise plan here shortly, but for now, I’ll end with some cheery stats:

  • I started on my fitness journey on August 1st last year – 9 months ago.
  • Since then I have lost a total of 40lbs (close to 3 stone!) (technically, I’ve lost more, but gained a little and lost it again!)
  • I have gained 13-16lbs in muscle!
  • I’ve lost 3.5 inches of fat from around my chest
  • Have lost 6.5 inches of fat from around my waist


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