No Time for Exercise? No More Excuses

By Allen Gardner

Truth is, there really are no excuses. Exercise is simply about activating muscle—and you don’t have to be in a gym to do that. It can be as simple as taking a walk on your lunch break and incorporating simple exercises like lunges, squats, etc., finding a hill to walk up a few times or sitting on an exercise ball at your desk to create good posture and stimulate your core muscles. Time constraints just mean you have to be more creative. But you can do a lot with a little.

Try some of these exercises that don’t require anything but body weight—and can be done on commercial breaks, while waiting for food to cook or even while the kids are doing homework.

Full body
Bear Crawl
: Starting on the hands and knees, rise up onto the toes, tighten the core and slowly reach forward with the right arm and right knee, followed by the left side. Continue the crawl for 8-10 reps.

Stair Climb with Bicep Curl: Turn those stairs into a cardio machine! Grab some dumbbells (or household objects!) and briskly walk up and down the stairs while simultaneously doing bicep curls.

Burpees: One of the most effective full-body exercises around, this one starts out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, kick the feet back to a push-up position, complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and repeating.

Legs

Wall Sit: Who needs a chair when there’s a wall? Slowly slide your back down a wall until the thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure the knees are directly above the ankles and the back is straight. Try for 60 seconds per set (or however long it takes to turn those legs to jelly).

Lunge: Stand with hands on your hips and feet hip-width apart. Step the right leg forward and slowly lower your body until the left knee is close to or touching the floor and bent at least 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg.

Squat: Stand with feet parallel or turned out 15 degrees. Slowly start to crouch by bending the hips and knees until the thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Make sure the heels do not rise off the floor. Press through the heels to return to a standing position.

Single Leg Deadlift: Start in a standing position with the feet together. Lift the right leg slightly, and lower the arms and torso while raising the right leg behind the body. Keep the left knee slightly bent and reach the arms as close to the floor as possible. Raise the torso while lowering the right leg. Switch legs.

Step-Up: Find a step or bench, and place the right foot on the elevated surface. Step up until the right leg is straight, then return to start. Repeat, aiming for 10-12 reps on each side.

Chest/Back

Standard Push-Up: There’s a reason this one’s a classic. With hands shoulder-width apart, keep the feet flexed, also hip-width apart and tighten the core. Bend the elbows until the chest reaches the ground, and then push back up (make sure to keep the elbows tucked close to the body).

Superman: Want some superpowers? Lie face down with arms and legs extended. Keeping the torso as still as possible, simultaneously raise the arms and legs to form a small curve in the body.

Arms

Triceps Dip: Sit on the floor near a step or bench, with knees slightly bent, and grab the edge of the elevated surface and straighten the arms. Bend them to a 90-degree angle, and straighten again while the heels push towards the floor. For some extra fire, reach the right arm out while lifting the left leg, and vice versa.

Arm Circles: Remember P.E. class? Stand with arms extended to the sides, perpendicular to the torso. Slowly make clockwise circles (about one foot in diameter), for about 20 to 30 seconds, then reverse the movement, going counter-clockwise.

Core

Bicycle: Lie down on your back with knees bent and hands behind the head. With the knees in toward the chest, bring the right elbow towards the left knee as the right leg straightens. Continue alternating sides (like you’re pedaling!).  

Crunch: Form is key in this one. Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With hands behind the head, place the chin down slightly and peel the head and shoulders off the mat while engaging the core. Continue curling up until the upper back is off the mat. Hold briefly, then lower the torso back toward the mat slowly. 

Side Plank: Roll to the side and come up on one foot and elbow. Make sure the hips are lifted and the core is engaged, and hang tight for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can stomach!).

See? No excuses. Start doing those body weight exercises!