Let’s be real: we all live fast-paced lives. We have so many commitments to work, family, friends, school (and so forth) that it can sometimes seem impossible to find time to work out. Nobody wants to wake up earlier to exercise, and at the end of a long day it’s totally understandable to want to just go straight home and relax in the tub.
Still, regular exercise is important for staying healthy and feeling good (not to mention all the beauty-related benefits). Luckily recent research has shown that an ultra-fast workout can be just as effective as a long one. Besides, a small amount of heart-pumping activity or strength-training every day is much better than none at all.
Here are four quick workouts that are so easy to squeeze into a busy day, you’ll no longer have an excuse to skip breaking a sweat.
1. If you’ve got 1 minute…
Do a plank. This simple move has a myriad of benefits. It will help strengthen and tone your core, your shoulders and arms, your legs…every part of your body is engaged during a plank. You don’t need any special equipment or a gym; just set a timer for 60 seconds and get down on the floor of your bedroom, office, or wherever you have a free minute (but maybe not somewhere gross like Times Square).
If you can’t hold a plank for a full minute yet, start at 10, 15, or 30 seconds and work your way up every day. Eventually you can hold the plank for longer than a minute and add in side planks for some variety. Here are some tips on how to do a plank and its many variations correctly.
2. If you’ve got 4 minutes…
Try a quick yoga routine with Tara Stiles. Tara is known for her calm, friendly voice and inclusive approach to yoga, so her videos are a great place to start if you’re a beginner. She has relaxing yoga routines that you can do right before bed, quick morning routines that help with flexibility, and short videos that focus on how to master one tricky pose.
Our favorite Tara Stiles video is this 4 minute core strength workout. You won’t get sweaty or red-faced and you’ll be done in less than five minutes—but you’ll definitely feel like you got a good core workout in.
3. If you’ve got 7 minutes…
Try the scientific seven minute workout. Published in the New York Times in 2013 and discovered by the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, this workout includes 12 30-second exercises that one must do in quick succession and at a high intensity.
All you need is a chair and a wall to do the moves, which are, in this order: jumping jacks, wall sit, push-ups, abdominal crunches, step-ups onto a chair, squats, triceps dips on a chair, plank, high knees, lunges, push-ups with rotations, and a side plank. If that doesn’t sound like fun, you’re right—it’s supposed to be rather painful. At least it’s only painful for seven minutes, though! That’s totally doable. And as an extra bonus: the workout is available in the form of a free app for your phone!
4. If you’ve got 10 minutes…
Take the seven minute workout and add quick bursts of sprinting in between each step. Sprint from one wall to the other, or to a nearby tree and back—bonus points if this involves going up a hill. This will add a decent amount of cardio to your workout and really get your heart rate up. You’ll definitely be sweaty after this, but it’s such a fast workout you can reward yourself with a long, luxurious shower.
If sprinting makes you want to die, or you’re doing the seven minute workout in a confined space, there’s other ways to get that cardio in. The most enjoyable option? Blast music and have a exuberant dance party to celebrate the end of the seven minutes. You may find yourself having so much fun that you end up extending this “workout” to longer than ten minutes.
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