Not all exercises are created equal. The ones that will give you the greatest improvements in fitness in the shortest amount of time are those that use multiple muscle groups, both in the upper and lower body, with explosive and dynamic movements at a fast pace.
But be warned- if you have pre-existing health conditions, joint problems, or are not used to exercising, you need to get the ok from your doctor before you attempt these.
Make sure you are warmed up and have stretched in preparation for your 5 minute workout, and have on comfortable supportive clothing and shoes.
Set your timer for 60 seconds for each exercise, and complete as many repetitions as you are able to within that time frame. Follow this up with a gentle cool down, and give yourself a high five for making serious progress with your fitness today!
Drop to a crouching position with hands on the floor on either side of your feet. Jump both feet back into the plank position and then immediately jump your feet back in to return to the crouched position, then power through your legs to launch yourself up into the air, straightening your body completely and reaching your arms up into the air. When you land immediately drop down to a crouching position and start again. Want to make it even harder? Strap on some ankle and/or wrist weights.
Because you are powering off with the largest muscle groups in your body, as well as working out your upper body at the same time pulling against a weighted resistance, and you can use quite explosive force when you push off as long as your technique is correct, the rowing machine is one of the best exercises for improving fitness. Your core also gets a great workout, with back and abdominal muscles activated almost the entire time. Just make sure you have set the resistance appropriately. Too little resistance and you won’t be getting the most out of your 60 seconds, too much resistance and your technique will tend to suffer.
Step or jump up onto a box or step- about mid calf height and at the top of the box, bring both arms into the air- add wrist weights to get the most out of this exercise. Then jump back down to the ground. Repeat as fast as you can safely perform this exercise within the 60 second time frame.
Whereas going for a run works mostly the lower body, a cross trainer works upper and lower body as well as your core and back. Set the resistance to a decent amount of difficulty, and then power out as much distance as you can, making sure you try and use your arms and legs equally to get through the exercise.
This one is a little trickier as it requires access to a pool (or the ocean) but swimming freestyle laps where you use pretty much every muscle in your body and are pushing against the resistance of the water to propel yourself forward is an incredibly effective exercise. You may need someone to tell you when to stop as you might not hear an alarm when under the water, or alternatively, time yourself swimming one lap, and work out how many laps you would need to swim to equal one minute.