For most people, working out means an hour at the gym, a tough cycling class, a five-mile run. So it’s no wonder we find it hard to exercise every day. But you can get a good session in a lot less time using these “micro-workouts,” which I created for days when I’m slammed or traveling. All take five minutes or less and can be done anywhere — the office, a park, your hotel room. They’ll jack up your heart rate and work your biggest calorie-burning muscle groups. Do them as one-offs, or repeat several times a day. Trust me: You will feel the difference they make in your fitness once you have time for a “real” session.
Hindu Squat Countdown
Perform a squat, sinking as low as possible with your chest up, so your fingertips brush the ground. Explode up as you raise arms in front of you, and immediately squat back down. Start with 20 reps, then do 15, then 10, then five, resting 10 seconds between each bout. The squat strengthens the quads (which helps injury-proof your knees), while this rep scheme instantly raises your heart rate.
Isolation exercises like wall sits and planks build muscle strength and improve balance. Paired together, they create a two-move total-body workout. Start by holding a wall sit for 30 seconds, thighs as close to parallel with the floor as you can get. Then hold a plank for 30 seconds, hips raised and back flat. Repeat for five minutes.
This combo is a grind, but when it’s over, you’ll feel like you got more cardio than being on a machine for an hour. Use these four exercises: burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and sprinting in place. Do each for one minute, all-out, resting 15 seconds in between.
Complete Body-Weight Circuit
This hybrid of strength work and cardio will leave you breathless. Start with 10 jumping lunges, exploding up to switch legs in midair. Then get into pushup position with your thumbs and forefingers creating a triangle shape; do 10 pushups. (Triangle pushups better work your triceps.) Last, do 10 bicycle crunches, tapping your elbow to your opposite knee each time. Repeat the circuit as many times as you can in five minutes. Good luck.
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