As our lives get busier and careers get more demanding, seeing the inside of a gym can feel about as likely as finding a way to clone yourself to get everything done. But that doesn’t excuse you from not working out at all. In fact, it’s easier than you think to work out on the go or even when you’re trying to decompress in front of the TV after you placed a food order for delivery.
Don’t believe us? We asked trainers and fitness experts to weigh in on their best tricks, tips, and moves that require very little effort but promise big results—all without having to step foot inside a gym! In fact, you can do all of these in the comfort of your own home so you can tone up while waiting for food to arrive.
Yoga Instructor Karly Treacy recommends having a timer handy to set parameters when you’re on a time crunch. “No matter how much time you have, if you work for one minute on and 15-30 seconds of active rest—depending on your fitness and energy level that day—you can give yourself a full body workout without leaving your house or hotel room! Getting your heart rate up for the minute of work, with minimal rest in between exercises, will burn calories and boost your metabolism. Exercises that recruit many muscle groups will strengthen and tone the whole body.”
Food delivery can take anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour and a half. To take up your time, set a stopwatch. “At every 20-minute point, do at least one ‘lap’ around your house,” says Katy Fraggos of the boutique fitness studio, Perspirology. “We are just trying to keep the body moving and burning calories!”
“One of my favorite workouts is [as many burpees as possible] as fast as possible, since any time you can ramp up the intensity of physical activity is time well spent. You can do this workout anywhere, and it’s guaranteed to kick your butt,” recommends Dave Colina, certified CrossFit trainer, Krav Maga instructor and founder of formula O2. For the unfamiliar, a burpee is a diabolical combination of a pushup quickly followed by a jump or jumping jack.
If you’re really having trouble getting in any activity, there is an alternative: stand at your desk. “There’s mounting research demonstrating the benefits of standing versus sitting. If you work in front of a computer all day, I highly recommend experimenting with a standing desk,” says Colina. “At formula O2’s headquarters, our office is outfitted with standing desk setups from Rogue Fitness or Oristand, and each cost less than $40. We have chairs for when people want to sit, but I’d be lying if I said they weren’t uncomfortable on purpose.”
Don’t worry if burpees are too daunting; Colina has another easy way to fire up your glutes and activate your core. “Do 10 rounds of a 30-second wall sit followed by a 30-second plank. Make sure to maintain good form for a meaningful workout and to avoid injury,” says Colina. “During the wall sit, keep your legs at a 90-degree angle so your thighs are parallel to the ground. While in plank, squeeze your abs and tighten your butt so that your back remains straight. If you notice your hips gravitating to the ground, it’s time to take a break.”
If you do find that you’re sitting quite a bit throughout the day, there’s an easy way to take advantage says Alanna Zabel, star of the Element: Beginner Level Yoga DVD. “I use thigh bands while I am working and writing on my computer,” she reveals. “Seize every moment because they all add up!”
Speaking of things that add up, sometimes they’re not so good—like these 50 Little Things Making You Fatter and Fatter. You’ve been warned!
Ashley Giovinazzo, a personal trainer at Equinox Beverly Hills and a coach at the Pink Iron in West Hollywood, has an easy workout that requires a flight of stairs (perfect if you have a basement or live in an apartment) and a gallon jug filled with water. This glute-sculpting 30-minute interval workout is one she gives many of her clients who are always on the go.
How to do it: In 30 seconds, run up and down the stairs once. Then grab the gallon jug and hold it in front of your body while doing many lunges or air squats in the remainder of the time. Rest 30 seconds. Repeat for 10 rounds. Finish the workout with ten rounds of bicycle crunches using the same interval timing.
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Distract your mind while waiting for your meal by getting some chores done. Cleaning day at home? Great time to get your core in tip-top shape while you’re getting your space sparkling. “Really engage your core pulling your stomach towards your spine as you sweep, mop, and scrub the tub,” says Gilchriest. And adding balancing or standing on your toes is an awesome way to challenge your core while doing chores. “Especially balancing on one foot while wiping down counters, sinks, and walls—just make sure to do both sides,” says Michelle Opperman, Group Fitness Manager of Crunch in New Montgomery. “Also, doing calf raises or standing on your toes while washing dishes can increase the intensity and fire up the core.”
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Last, but not least! If you want to stay fit and keep your body in peak shape, you need to have your mind in balance with that goal. According to Angel Alicea, a fitness instructor/personal trainer at Carillon Miami Beach, the easiest thing you can do is meditate. It takes practice but you can do it anywhere. “This mental workout tends to be the hardest one to do,” she says. “Start with five minutes a day and increase weekly. Think of a good thought, listen to soft music, or sit quietly in a room. The rewards are endless.”
While we would never want to distract you from your favorite show, commercials are a prime time to workout. “Focus on one exercise each commercial break, doing as many as you can. Work your way through the body moving onto the next exercise at the next commercial segment,” recommends Opperman. “An example would be squats, push-ups, reverse lunges, crunches, jumping jacks. To increase the intensity you can add speed or add plyo to the moves. The show segment becomes your recovery.” Watching a show on say Netflix with no commercial break? You’re not off the hook. “Pick a word before the show starts and every time you hear it do five burpees,” says Opperman. “This could quickly get real fun and challenging.”
Joseph Cintron fitness instructor/personal trainer at Carillon Miami Beach says if you’re home and need to work out, flexibility, resistance, and cardio are the keys. “These three aspects of fitness are a definite must,” he says.
- Stretch: Five to seven minutes of stretching is a great start to a home workout.
- Cardio: A great way to warm up after the stretch is a few rounds of shadow boxing, jump rope, or simple jumping jacks.
- Resistance: Great resistance exercises are loaded split squats, pushups, dips, Spiderman push-ups, lunges, sit-ups, crunches, planks, jump squats, ski squats, mountain climbers.
“I like to do high volume on these exercises to really build conditioning and endurance for the muscles, especially in the legs. The legs are our largest muscle group and require more energy to use them, which results in higher caloric expenditure,” adds Cintron.
Your pooch’s playfulness is also a great calorie burner for you! “Running around with the dog can be a great way to burn calories and get in a great workout without going to the gym. As long as you are moving, your muscles are contracting and burning calories,” says Derek Mikulski, BS, CSCS, CPT, Founder of ActivMotion, “Just ten minutes per day of playing with your dog at a moderate level of intensity can burn more than 15,000 calories in a year! This equates to roughly five or six pounds of fat!” Since your pup is helping you take care of your health, make sure to look out for his and familiarize yourself with the 10 Best and Worst Superfoods for Your Dog.
All you need is a towel and these three moves that basically create a tug-o-war with yourself. It’s also a customizable workout because the stronger you get the more challenging the workout becomes. “The best part is that it only take 15 minutes to get a total body workout and it lowers cortisol levels because it lengthens and strengthens the body,” says Lisa Avellino, NY Health and Wellness Fitness Director. “The three hunger hormones in the body ghrelin, leptin and cortisol are affected by stress, chemicals and underlying conditions in the body. This workout combines cardio, strength, stretch and core but does not put stress on the joints or hormones. Try these moves to align your body, quiet your mind and balance your hormones.” Here are the three moves:
- Overhead side-to-side bend while seated – 10 times
- Biceps and triceps while seated – 10 times
- The ab blaster towel pull while sitting – 10 times
If you’re in the kitchen, instead of grabbing a snack while you’re waiting for your food to be delivered, use the time to get your those guns sculpted. “Do bicep curls with canned food,” says personal trainer Lola Berry. “Find heavy cans and try 12 reps for four rounds. You should feel it!”
Need a minute to lie down on the couch? No problem. Go ahead and recline, but grab a pair of one to three-pound weights for a quick set of bicep work or chest presses. First, sit up against the arm of your couch with a pillow under the small of your back. “While holding a weight in each hand, start to curl the weights upward towards your shoulders while keeping your elbows close to your ribcage. Repeat this action for eight reps, three times,” says fitness coach Nadia Murdock. Then, lie all the way down and go for chest presses. “While laying down, keep a weight in each hand keeping your arms straight above your head without locking your elbows. Have your knuckles facing you, with a pull-down action bring the weights down towards your chest and push back up to complete one rep. Repeat this move for eight reps, three times.”
“Keeping ankle weights in your house is a great way to make household chores a little bit more challenging. Other options include a weighted vest that allows you to increase and decrease the weight from day today,” recommends Murdock. While you’re waiting for that delivery, throw a pair on to walk around the house and finish your laundry.
Your days may seem packed but anyone can find time to dance it out. “Blast your favorite tunes and shake your stuff! Go for it! It is your own dance party that will pump up your heart rate while having so much fun,” says Ilyse Baker, star of the Weight Watchers: Ultimate Dance Party Kit. If you have more time and the music is keeping you motivated, you can always add in some pushups, mountain climbers, and squats.
Tone that booty you’ve been sitting on all day. “Do 100 booty squats after you place your order and 100 when the app says the food is on its way!” instructs Javier Perez, trainer at modelFIT. It sounds so simple, but we’re pretty sure your backside will be turning heads in no time.
Vacuuming probably isn’t the kind of thing you want to postpone any longer than you have to—or is it? Walking lunges are a great way to work on your abs, hips, and thighs, and you can do them while you vacuum. “While holding the vacuum, take a big step forward with one leg while lifting the heel of the other foot,” suggests Dr. Robert G. Silverman, nutritionist and HardStyle Kettlebell Certified instructor. “Bend the knees and drop your hips down. Don’t let the back knee touch the ground. Come back up and bring the back foot forward in another big step. Repeat until the carpet is clean.”
Next time you get a notification on your phone, stand up and don’t sit back down until you’re ready to put your phone down. Katy Fraggos of the boutique fitness studio, Perspirology, has a way to make it even more challenging. “Try balancing on one leg throughout the duration of the call. Alternate to balance on the opposite leg when the next call comes in.”
Use that overflowing inbox to your advantage! Whether you’re at your desk or on the go, every time you get the chime that a new email has come through, stop and do 20 lateral floor taps. How to do these: “Stay seated with back straight and arms long by sides,” explains Fraggos. “Lean to one side and reach fingertips toward the floor, reverse to reach opposite fingertips to the floor.”
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If you have five minutes, you can get in a body sculpting workout no matter where you are—home, office, hotel—and all you need is fitness lifestyle expert Paige Hathaway’s “Fit in 5” routine. “Perform each exercise concurrently, with no rests between each. Ensure the core is engaged throughout the entire workout by keeping the transverse abdominals (TVA) activated. Do this by drawing the belly button is as tightly as possible to the spine and elevating the rib cage,” Hathaway explains.
- Bird Dogs (1 Min): Begin in a plank position. Extend the left leg and right arm away from your body until they are parallel with your torso. While maintaining balance and stability in the shoulders and torso, lower yourself back into the starting position by pulling the opposite elbow to the knee. Alternate sides each rep.
- Inchworms (1 Min): Standing upright with feet together, bend at the waist and place hands directly in front of feet while keeping the knee as straight as possible. Begin to walk the hands out, alternating left, then right. Shoot for 3-to-4 inch increments until your upper body is stretched into a plank position. Now begin to inch your feet towards your hands, all while keeping your knees locked, so that you return to the starting position.
- Stir-the-Pot On Stability Ball (1 Min): Kneeling on the floor, place your hands on the ball with your palms together. Initiate the movement by rolling the ball away from you until your elbows are on top of the ball. Move your forearms around in a circle motion (simulate stirring a pot). Alternate directions every 15 seconds.
- Knee Tucks on Stability Ball (1 min): Begin by lying face down across a stability ball in a plank position and walk forwards with your hands until your upper ankles are directly on top of the ball. Start by curling your knees in toward your chest while rolling the ball underneath your torso. Once you feel your abdominal muscles contract, steadily extend the legs back and return into the starting plank position.
- Supermans (1 min): Begin by lying face down on a mat with arms and legs extended in front and behind you. Keep your fingers together, pointed straight out in front of you and your feet pointed behind you. Be sure to keep your arms and legs straight throughout the entire exercise. Contract your abs and glutes while raising your hands and legs 4-to-5 inches off the ground. Hold each rep for 5 seconds before returning to the starting position.