If you’re like me, you don’t always have time to go to the gym or get a quick run in before picking up the kids. Sometimes you just need to get what exercises you can in with no equipment wherever you are (park with the kids, hotel for a business trip, 20 free minutes before dinner needs to be on the table, etc.). When you are crunched for time, all you need to do is 1-2 minutes of each exercise listed below (for 2-3 sets) and you can get in a quick, full body workout session.
In doing some research, I have found the top 5 total body exercises that give you the most bang for your buck are as follows:
Push-ups are one of the most tried and true exercises for building strength. With so many varieties (traditional, narrow, wide, backward, forward, and clapping), they can activate muscles in the shoulders, chest, arms, core, and legs.
Not only do they help build muscle mass, but push-ups are also beneficial for your heart. Since so many muscle groups are working at the same time, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to all the muscle tissue being used. The heart is also a muscle, so the more it exercises too, the stronger it gets.
Push-ups can also help increase joint support; specifically those around your shoulder.
2. Plank Hold
Who doesn’t want a more toned mid-section? While crunches, and sit-ups can help on your road to a flat tummy, they can be hard on your back. Like push-ups, holding a plank requires that not only the abs are activated, but also your arms and legs too. The entire body works to hold your body up during this exercise. Also like push-ups, there are many varieties to this exercise as well: side, knee touches, basic, shoulder taps, and arm & leg extensions.
Doing a plank hold can help increase your flexibility by stretching your lower half. Once you are holding the position, the arches of your feet and your hamstrings lengthen, thus stretching these areas.
Planks can also help improve your posture by developing isometric strength in your core. This strength helps you to keep a straighter back while sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Arguably one of the best full-body exercises, burpees really work your FULL body. With each rep, you’ll feel muscles in your abs, hamstrings, glutes, quads, arms, and chest working. In addition to burning some serious calories (research shows high intensity workouts can burn 50% more fat than moderate exercise), burpees get your heart rate up fast! Burpees are great for getting your body in shape quickly because they help you develop endurance and conditioning quickly!
4. Reverse Tabletop Yoga Pose
While I admit I am late to the Yoga game, I am quickly realizing the positive impact it can have on your body. One pose I try to incorporate regularly is the reverse tabletop. After a long day, the deep upper body, abs, and spinal stretch feels absolutely amazing. In addition, this pose can strengthen the back, legs, glutes, arms, and even your wrists. It provides relief from stress and fatigue by opening up the entire front side, as well as improving your posture and balance.
5. Inch Worms
Lastly, the inch worm. Another exercise I have recently been introduced to, the inch worm is great for improving your flexibility and strength of your entire body. The abs, chest, arms, and upper back are all activated in this high intensity workout move.
Medical News Today. Push-ups Every Day: Benefits & Risks
Insider.com. The Health Benefits of Push-ups
Healthline.com. The Worthwhile Benefits of Plank Exercises