You Can Do This Total-Body Workout Anywhere

Let’s be honest: Doing the exercises is the easy part. What’s hard is finding the motivation to start exercising — and making the time to do it regularly.

Here are three tips that’ll help you get past the hard part from trainer, coach and fitness personality David Jack:

  1. Motivation: “Remember that you are a unique, amazing miracle. Being fit helps you express the greatness within you.”
  2. Time: “You don’t have to spend an hour in a gym to get strong and in shape, not even a half-hour. Find ways to fit some exercise into your day in brief bursts. It adds up.”
  3. Boredom: “Fitness should be fun. Make your exercise more like play.”

Jack is a big advocate of exercising with minimal equipment. Why?

“It’s easy; it takes little planning,” he says. “You don’t have to go to a gym. You don’t have to buy any special gear; just use your body weight for resistance. And you can work out anywhere, even in your living room when it’s raining outside.”

Want proof that it works? Try this 12-minute total body workout you can do in your family room.

Always begin with a dynamic warmup to prevent injury. And make sure you’re cleared for exercise by your physician, especially if you’ve been sedentary. 

Warm Up (3 minutes)

  1. Arm circle with balance: Stand on one leg and raise your arms out to your sides so your body forms a T, hands open with your thumbs facing behind you. Now make small- to medium-sized circles with your arms while balancing for 30 seconds. Next, balance on the other foot and circle your arms in the opposite direction for 30 seconds.
  2. March to high-knee run in place: March in place while swinging your arms across your chest for 30 seconds. Lower your arms and run in place, lifting each knee as high as you would while running in tall grass. Drive your arms up and down aggressively as you pump your legs. Stay on the balls of your feet, and keep your chest up and eyes forward. Run as fast as you can for 15 to 30 seconds, imagining the floor is red hot and that you want to get each foot off it as quickly as possible.
  3. Bear crawl: Start on hands and knees and then rise up onto your toes, lifting your knees an inch or two off the floor. Tighten your core, and slowly reach forward with your right hand a few inches while bringing your left foot forward a few inches. Then move your left hand and right foot forward. Continue crawling forward (your steps should be very short) 10 steps, then crawl backward for 10 steps.

Body Weight Workout Circuit

Do the following exercises in circuit-style, one set of each in this order. Rest when you need to, but keep rest periods brief to gain the greatest heart health benefits from this aerobic routine.

  1. Glute bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms at your sides, palms down. Press your feet into the floor and squeeze your butt to raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Keep your head on the floor, and do not arch your back. Pause at the top, and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. Lower your body to the floor. Repeat for 30 seconds.
  2. Squat: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and raise your arms in front of you, parallel with the floor. Bend your knees, and sit back as though you are trying to push a door shut with your butt. Lower until your thighs are almost parallel with the floor. Press through your heels to stand up straight. That’s one rep. Do 12.

Make it tougher: Do the squat and, when ready to stand, drive your heels into the floor and jump explosively. Land softly on your feet and immediately lower into another squat.

  1. Judo pushup: Get into yoga’s downward dog position with your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, arms and legs straight and hips pushed toward the ceiling. Bend your elbows to lower yourself. When your chin nears the floor, lower your hips as though you’re squeezing under a fence. Straighten your arms as you would in a pushup to raise your torso, but keep your hips near the floor. Now reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 8.

Make it easier: If you find these pushups difficult, do regular pushups or, even easier, hands-elevated pushups. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of a piece of furniture or bench and assume a pushup position, supporting your body on your toes and with arms straight. Bend your arms to lower your torso, and then straighten your arms.

  1. Backward lunge: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips. Take a big step back with your right foot and slowly lower your body by bending your legs until your back knee hovers just above the floor and your front leg forms a right angle. Press into the floor with your left heel to stand straight, bringing your right leg to the starting position. Repeat by lunging back with the left foot. That’s one rep. Do 12.
  2. Single-leg deadlift: This strengthens the butt and lower back muscles, and challenges your balancing ability. Stand with your arms at your sides and feet together, legs straight. Shift your weight onto your right foot and hinge forward at the waist, raising your left leg straight behind you until it’s parallel with the floor and your back forms a straight line. Allow your arms to fall straight toward the floor. Pause, balancing on one foot for a second or two. Engage your entire core by pulling in your belly. Slowly rise and lower your leg to return to the starting position. Do 6 reps that way, and then shift your weight to your left foot and repeat the move by raising your right leg straight behind you for 6 reps.

Make it tougher: Add resistance by holding a medicine ball, light dumbbell or gallon water jug between your hands, lowering the weight toward the floor as you hinge forward.

  1. Plank: Lie face down with your forearms and palms flat on the floor. Extend your legs behind you and rise up on your toes by pressing your forearms into the floor. Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders. Keeping your back straight, tighten your core and hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Remember to breathe.
  1. Side plank: Roll onto your left side, and rest your left elbow on the floor under your shoulder; rest your forearm and left palm flat on the floor. Straighten your legs, and stack your right leg and foot on top of your left leg and foot. Keeping your core engaged, press your elbow into the floor and raise your hips until your torso is straight. Hold for a second, then slowly lower your hips to the floor. That’s one rep. Do 12, and then roll onto your right side and repeat the movement.
  1. Finisher: Finish the circuit with a ladder of five quick movements to challenge your body. Do them in order without resting:
  • Bear crawl forward about 10 feet, then …
  • Do three regular pushups, then …
  • Do five mountain climbers, then …
  • Do three pushups, then …
  • Bear crawl backward about 10 feet to the starting position.

You’re done! Walk and circle your arms to cool down or, if you’re feeling up to it, rest a minute and then repeat the full circuit.

Jeff Csatari has been a health and fitness writer for more than 20 years. His books include The Belly Off! Diet, The 14-Day No-Sugar Diet and The Spartan Way, co-written with Joe DeSena.

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