You lead a busy life and sometimes you just don’t have an hour to drag yourself to the gym for a workout. The good thing is you don’t have to! There are plenty of quick exercises you can do outside the gym that will help you reach your fitness goals. Even though you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, it’s important to get your heart rate up quickly and to focus on exercises that will give you the best results.
It’s important to stretch and warm up your muscles before you start your workout. Skipping a warm up may lead to injury and put you out of commission for quite a long time. To warm up, do sets of lunges, stretch each arm by holding your elbow and reaching down your back, pull each knee to your chest while you lie on your back and pay special attention to areas you might want to stretch even more due to a prior injury.
Use Your Body Weight
The best piece of equipment you have when you can’t hit the gym is your own body. Fitness coach Angelena Riggs recommends doing three sets and 20 reps each of squats, mountain climbers, plank holds, push-ups, side planks, bridges and jumping jacks as the finale. Riggs recommends these movements to quickly boost your heartrate and metabolism.
If there are exercises that seem too easy for your fitness level, do advanced versions of each move, such as jumping squats or declining push-ups, says Sarah Jane Parker, an American College of Sports Medicine certified (ACSM) personal trainer.
Work Your Core
Dominika Cihanova, certified personal trainer, recommends waking your body up with a 20-minute core workout. Do sets of Russian twists, crunches, v-ups or leg raises. If you’d like to amp up the difficulty of your core exercises, invest in an exercise ball. This simple and affordable piece of equipment can increase the difficulty of your 20-minute workout and engage more muscle groups depending on the exercise. Cihanova recommends also incorporating household items like a step, bench or the edge of a chair to assist with tricep dips, incline push-ups or single-leg squats. If you use a chair or bench, make sure the furniture is sturdy before you start incorporating them into your workout.
Mix It Up
To maximize a quick workout, alternate between explosive cardio moves and full-body strength exercises without taking breaks between, says Ashley Pitt, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Pitt also highly recommends the added benefit of resistance bands to increase the difficulty of body moves such as bicep curls and leg lifts. Great explosive cardio moves that don’t require a lot of space or time are jump squats, jumping jacks, high knees in place, burpees, lateral hops and mountain climbers.
Whether you have an hour or only a fraction of that time to spare to get your sweat on, quality is always important to maximize your workouts – it’s not just about intensity. Parker suggests that strength training should take priority if fat loss and body composition change is your ultimate goal. If you want to get the best of both worlds, she recommends incorporating plyometrics (also known as jump training) and metabolic conditioning exercises into your routine. With so many options for exercises you can do anywhere in a minimal amount of time, the next challenge is finding an excuse not to do them!