Simple, yet effective, exercises when you’re too busy for the gym

-Jun 18, Jenny Paul, Fitness -

Hands up if you’ve not quite made it to the gym this week – despite your best intentions during the global lockdown? Many of us aren’t too sure about going back to the office, let alone the gym where people are sweating all over the machines, so here’s some simple and effective exercises you can do at home.

It is hot outside, so going for a run is not particularly enticing, plus most of us are so busy that factoring in the journey to and from the gym means you need to set aside up to two hours out of every day to fit in a decent workout.

The ideal solution would be going first thing in the morning, but if you’re hustling to get your kids ready for school or put your make-up on before you leave, the odds are that, you can’t find time to go to the gym. And, by the time you get home from work, prepare dinner and clean up, you may not feel like working out before bed.

But you can do these ten simple exercises anytime, anywhere, throughout your day to keep looking and feeling fit.

1. Squats

You’re probably familiar with the traditional squat. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, then slowly lower your body as far as you can, as if youre sitting on a very low chair. Hing back with your hips and keep your chest up.

Mix it up by doing a set of sumo squats with your legs wider than your hips (3 to 4 feet apart) and your feet pointed outward. Lower your body slowly, keeping your chest up. Try a set or three – your quads, hamstrings and bottom will thank you.

2. Lunges

Add lunges to the squats and you’ll definitely feel the burn the next day – but it’s worth it. Start with your legs hip-width apart, and then step forward with your right foot until both knees are bent at about a 90 degree angle. Slowly return to your starting position, and repeat with your left foot. Keep your core engaged to help your balance. Challenge yourself with three sets of 10 to start, and slowly increase the volume each day.

3. Calf Raises

You can do calf raises at any time during the day. Stand up for a quick set of 30 at work, or even do a couple while youre filling your car up with gas. Lift your heels so that youre standing on your tippy toes, hold for a second, and then lower your heels without letting them touch the ground. Work different muscles in the calves by turning your feet 30 degrees outward for a set or two, and 30 degrees inward for another set or two.

4. Push-ups

We’re sure you know how to do this one. Feel free to do your push-ups from your knees, or even start with your chest on the ground at first. Just make sure you’re keeping your elbows tucked and your back as straight as possible as you raise and lower yourself. For variation, put your hands together, forming a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers before doing the push-up, or widen your arms beyond your shoulders.

5. Plank

Have you ever done the plank challenge? Start the month off by doing only 20-second planks, increasing the amount of time by 5 or 10 seconds each day for 30 days. If you feel like more of a challenge, slowly lift one leg up and extend it straight out while holding the plank position, and then repeat with the other leg.

6. Scissors

Lie flat on your back with your hands underneath your bottom to support your lower back. Raise both legs toward the ceiling, keeping them straight. Then, slowly lower one leg until its about 6 inches off the ground, then switch to the other leg. Quickly repeat with each leg 10 times for a good ab workout.

7. Leg Raises

Leg raises are another great lower-ab workout. Lie flat on your back with your hands underneath your butt if you need extra lower back support. Lift both legs up to the ceiling, keeping them straight. In a controlled motion, lower both legs until they are about 6 inches off the ground, and then repeat.

8. Jumping Jacks

It’s definitely good to sprinkle some cardio into your strength training, and there’s no better way to get your heart pumping than jumping jacks. Stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides, then jump out so your feet are wider than shoulder-width, simultaneously bringing your arms up above your head.

9. Mountain Climbers

If you’re looking for a way to work out your arms, abs, legs AND get cardio – mountain climbers are the answer. Start with your feet together. Then, jump into a runner’s lunge, so your right foot is extended backwards, your left foot is bent forwards, and your hands are on the ground for balance. Jump legs back and forth as quickly as you can.

10. Wall Sits

Grab a you-sized piece of wall at work or at home, and stand with your back flat against it and your feet about 2 feet in front of you and 6 inches apart. Slowly bend on the wall as if you were sitting in a chair. Hold the sitting position for 30 seconds, and then repeat. If you don’t have weights, you can hold a litre bottle of water in each hand.


All ten of these exercises can be done while waiting for the water to boil to make a cup of turmeric tea, during the ad breaks in your favourite TV show, or even at work.

There’s lots of brilliant workouts which you can do at home on YouTube, and if you’re looking for something new, then what could be better than Harry Potter yoga to bring some magic to your life? (A great one to do if you’re at home with kids).

What are your favourite at home workouts? Let us know in the comments… 

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