By Aleese Holiday
Sometimes, life gets in the way of our workout schedule. There is no shame in trying again tomorrow, but your body will thank you if you can find 15-20 minutes to perform these exercises. If 15 consecutive minutes is impossible, you can use these exercises as 5-minute breaks. Getting a few minutes of exercise every day will boost your metabolism, improve circulation, and improve tone.
This movement strengthens the whole body but targets the arms and core. Hold your plank position with arms outstretched or on your elbows (the more challenging option) for as long as possible. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders and breathe! You can also incorporate movement such as alternating shoulder taps or leg raises to add variety.
Side leg raises
This movement strengthens the inner thighs, hip abductors, and glutes. Stand tall and raise one leg to the side, keeping it straight. You can hold on to a railing or wall for support if the balance required is too difficult. Do as many as you can on each side, raising your leg as high as possible.
This movement can be performed on the ground or using a raised platform like a chair or low table. Put your arms behind you with your fingers pointing towards your legs. Raise your legs to a reverse tabletop position and bend your arms. Straighten your arms and repeat for maximum possible repetitions. Keep your hips off of the ground as you lower, making sure the movement comes from your arms, not your hips.
These kicks are great for targeting the glutes and hamstrings. You can do these standing up or in a tabletop position. Either way, raise one leg at a time directly behind you. If you are standing, keep your leg straight and raise it as far as you can behind you, keeping your hips square. You can hold on to something to stabilize your upper body if you wish. In tabletop position, keep your knee bent and kick your foot up to the sky, as high as you can. Repeat until failure on one side, then match that number on the other side.
Calf raises can be performed at any time of the day. Simply stand upright and rock your weight onto your toes. Drop your heels back down to the floor and repeat. These are great to do while cooking dinner, using a standing desk, or as a part of a consecutive workout routine. Calf raises are great for toning, well, your calves. They also improve circulation in your body and contribute to longevity because of their correlation with leg strength. Do some calf raises every day to improve your longevity, your leg strength, and your life. Shoot for at least 100 a day to get the benefit of this exercise.
Push-ups or counter push-ups
Push-ups are a key movement for gaining strength in your pectoral muscles, shoulders, back, and core. This full-body movement is performed from a plank position. With arms shoulder-width apart, lower down until you are almost touching the ground. Then, raise your body back to a full plank position. Repeat for maximum reps. If you are unable to do a full push-up, you can do the same movement using a countertop. Place your arms on the counter and walk your feet out. Lower down to the counter and raise back up. The further your feet are from the table, the harder this movement will be. You can also perform a push-up in a plank position with your knees resting on the ground. This takes some pressure off of your shoulders and core. Do as many push-ups as you can for two rounds per day to see an increase in strength. There are a ton of variations for push-ups including one-sided push-ups, tricep push-ups, decline push-ups, and wide push-ups.
Arm circles and Punches
Toning your arms doesn’t always require weights. If you are low on time, do arm circles and punches to maximize fat-burning in your arms and reduce flabbiness. Arm circles are executed with your arms outstretched alongside you. Rotate them counterclockwise in circles, then clockwise in circles. You can incorporate small circles, medium circles, and large circles to use different ranges of movement in your shoulder. Punches can be side punches, front punches, alternating punches, and punches to the sky. Doing a variety of these arm exercises every day will tone your biceps and triceps and keep you looking amazing.
Regular squats are a great way to burn out your glutes and quads when you are low on time. To squat, stand up and separate your feet at least hip-distance apart or wider. Keep your feet pointed straight ahead and line up your knees on top of your ankles as you lower down past 90 degrees. Go as low as you can without allowing your knees to cover your feet, then return to standing and repeat as many times as you can. Try out variations like sumo squats, close squats, wide squats, squat walks, a squat hold, squat pulses, and more.
If you are short on time during the day:
I recommend doing these exercises to maximum repetitions (add weights if you can!) and repeating the series twice. You do not need to do these exercises back to back. Incorporate a few exercises every hour of the day to help boost your metabolism and keep your body toned.
If you have 15-20 consecutive minutes:
You can perform these exercises as a HIIT workout by performing every exercise for 45 seconds, taking 15 seconds of break between exercises.
Go for it, and get fit one day at a time.