Hitting the gym every day for a solid one-hour workout is well-intentioned. The truth is, life can throw obstacles in your way, making it not always possible to get your workout in. Business trips, vacations, family time, and even weather can play a role in diverting you away from your scheduled workout. Once you are knocked out of your routine, it can be difficult to get back on course. That’s why having a back-up plan for your workouts is so important.
If you’ve ever been away for business or pleasure and your hotel doesn’t have a fitness center, have you just skipped your workout? Or on a particularly hectic day when you’re on the go running errands, have you said to yourself: “I’ll do it tomorrow”? To stay on track and get your workout in, all you need is 20 minutes and your own body weight. You know what that means? No more excuses! You can get your workout in anytime, anywhere, in as little as 20 minutes.
Also known as the “air squat,” this exercise uses your body weight and incorporates the entire kinetic chain of the lower body, including your glutes, thigh muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps, and even your core. Because so many of the larger muscle groups in the legs are incorporated in the squat, it makes it one of the most effective exercise movements to burn calories and build muscle. Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart and slowly lower your body down as if you were going to sit into a chair. Engage your abs, keep your chest up, and squeeze your shoulder blades toward each other. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground and make sure your knees don’t fall inward or pass over your ankles. Then rise back up to starting position. The foot placement can go wider or narrower to activate different muscle groups of the inner and outer thighs. Likewise, your hands can rest on your hips, on the top of your head, crossed on your chest, or extended in front of you. Start with three sets of 50 reps and increase as you become stronger.
The plank is an easy, yet very effective, body-weight exercise that anyone can do. It works the chest, glutes, lower back, and abdominals. The traditional plank starts with hands beneath the shoulders and with toes curled under so that the body is being held up off the floor. If this proves too difficult, you can start off doing the plank on your knees until you build up the needed strength and advance. Engage your core so that your body is in one line and hold. The purpose of the plank is that of an isometric hold done for time to increase endurance and strength. To increase difficulty for this movement, move your weight onto one hand, bring your other hand to your hip, and stack your feet coming into a side plank. Then do the same on the other side.
Push-ups are a tried-and-true exercise for increasing strength in the upper body and core. The push-up begins in the same position as the plank. Again, if you are just starting out, you can do push-ups on your knees to start until you become stronger. Tighten your core and slowly lower your body down to the ground until your arms are each bent at a 90-degree angle. Try to keep your body completely straight without dropping your hips or keeping them too high. As you lower down, pull your shoulder blades back and down, making sure your elbows are close to your body as you lower down. Repeat this movement 10 to 20 times, working toward three sets.
There are many different variations of abdominal exercises you can do to sculpt your midsection. Here are three options that will work your full abdomen. Lie flat on the floor with your arms overhead and feet extended in the opposite direction. Inhale and engage your abs to pull yourself up to a sitting position. At the top of the movement, exhale and fold forward reaching toward your toes. With the inhale, pull yourself back up to sitting and then exhale to lower your body to the floor. Repeat 10 or more times.
For the lower abs, remain on the floor, bring your feet together, and lift them a few inches off the floor and hold. Then lift them 45 degrees off the floor and hold before bringing them over your hips to 90 degrees. Move them back down to 45 degrees to hold and again to a few inches off the floor before releasing them to the ground. Repeat 10 or more times.
The last movement also starts on the floor, this time with your feet spread apart. Bring your hands up over your head. Lift one arm up toward the ceiling and, with an inhalation, pull yourself up. When you reach the top, twist to touch your lifted hand to the opposite foot. Release back down and start on the other side. Do both sides five to 10 times each.
You can do each of these moves in succession or mix them up. As long as you are getting in your 20 minutes, have fun with it!
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