Commercial breaks. Standing in line. Waiting for, well, just about anything. It turns out any waste of time can be turned into an opportunity to squeeze in some exercise. And with your busy life, we’re betting you’re going to love the opportunity to fit in a nearly-effortless workout while you wait.
After you get the thumbs up from your doctor, begin by watching your posture. You’ll be amazed at how many muscles you engage simply by making an effort to keep your body aligned properly. Hold your stomach in (yes, all the time), hold your head high and keep your shoulders straight, rather than slouched.
The “no work” workout
Incredibly, your abs and trapezius muscles (the backs of your shoulders) will begin to get stronger without you doing another thing. Plus, standing up straight is also the perfect starting position for all eight of our time-saving mini-workouts.
1. Wall push-ups:
Wall push-ups are a great way to squeeze in some exercise during a commercial break or while you’re waiting for some water to boil. The beauty of the wall push up is that you can keep the challenge level low, or pump it up, depending on what your current fitness level is. And you can increase its intensity as you build more upper body strength.
Find a clear space on any wall. Stand facing the wall with your toes about a foot away from the wall. (Increasing the distance will raise the difficulty.) Place your hands flat on the wall, shoulder width apart. Using your arms, lower your nose to the wall and push back up again to the starting position. You’ve just done a wall push-up!
As you gain strength you can try this variation. Move into the kitchen or bathroom and do them with your hands on the counter. Your arms will be bearing more of your weight as your lower yourself towards the counter, making the counter push up a little more challenging than a wall push-up, but still less difficult than one on the floor.
2. Tummy twists:
You can do this one at home, standing in line at the grocery store, even sitting in traffic (just not while you’re driving!). Your back should be straight, and your shoulders squared.
Now, without moving your hips, twist at your waist as far as you can go to the right. Come back to center, and twist to the left. Come back to center. That’s one rep. The key is to make sure your stomach muscles, not your hips or shoulders, are doing the work.
3. Chair stands:
Chair stands are another exercise you can modify as you get stronger. Start by sitting, feet flat on the floor, shoulders back.
Now, keeping your back as straight as possible and your weight in your heels, stand up. Don’t use your arms (you can keep them crossed over your chest to remind yourself to not use them if you like), and don’t lean forward. Let your legs do as much work as they can. Finish your first rep by sitting back down, still without using your arms and without leaning forward.
You’ll feel this in your upper thighs and butt. If you don’t, you may be ready to move on to squats. It’s the same motion, just without ever sitting down. Start standing. Lower yourself to the edge of the chair, but don’t sit. Stand back up again. Don’t use your hands to help, and keep your weight on your heels. Don’t let your knees extend past your toes.
4. Calf raises:
Another “do anywhere” exercise, calf raises are great whenever you’re waiting in line, or when you’ve been sitting for a long time and need to get your blood circulating.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Rest a hand on the wall, a counter, or the back of a chair to help with balance if you need to. Raise all the way up onto your toes. Hold for a count of 3, then lower back down again.
5. Book press:
While this one is called the book press, you can use anything you have on hand that has a bit of weight to it. Hold your book with both hands, over your head. Tuck your elbows in as close as you can, and bend your arms so you lower the book behind you, down towards your shoulders. Lift the book back up again for one rep.
Make sure to stay in complete control the whole time. When done right you should feel these in your triceps, or muscles at the back of your arms.
6. Front leg extensions:
Next time you’re at your desk, or sitting on the sofa watching some TV, try some front leg extensions. Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Straighten your left leg, so it sticks out in front of you. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position. Repeat with the right leg. You can hold on to the seat of the chair to give yourself some extra leverage if needed.
The key to working your upper thigh is to stay in control of the motion, and to let your quad muscle (the muscle at the front of your thigh), not your foot, do the lifting.
7. Rear leg extensions:
Rear leg extensions are great way to give your hamstrings and butt muscles a quick, effective workout. Stand comfortably, with your weight evenly distributed between both feet. Hold onto a counter or the back of a chair for added balance, in necessary, just don’t lean forward.
Lift one leg up behind you, hinging from the hip, as high as you can without leaning forward. Make sure you are in control. It’s a lift, not a swing you want here. Contract your butt muscles at the top of your lift. Slowly lower and swap legs.
8. Side leg extensions:
To complete your quick leg workout, toss in some side leg extensions from time to time. Using the muscles in your outer thigh, lift one leg out and away from you, as high as you can without bending at the waist. Lower and switch legs.
No time for a workout? No problem! Finding the time for a full gym session can be tough sometimes. Besides, gym memberships can cost a fortune. But with these eight mini-workouts you can squeezes in some effective exercise anywhere, without losing valuable time or breaking the bank.