5 At-Home Workouts for Women With Busy Schedules
Finding the time to get to the gym can be a real struggle. Even though you want to exercise, life just seems to get in the way. We get it. But we’ve got great news: It’s possible to work out at home, in as little as 20-minutes, and still conquer the demands of your day.
We asked five fitness experts to share their favorite quick and easy workout routines for women at home that can be squeezed into even the busiest of schedules. Before we dig in, a quick note: Even though these were designed specifically with women in mind, there’s nothing to say men can’t do them, too!
4 of the Best At-Home Exercises for Women
Certified personal trainer and yoga instructor Dempsey Marks loves exercises that target several muscle groups at once, especially if they also allow you to do cardio and strength training at the same time. Here are some of his favorites:
- Squat and Press: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Hold a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders, palms facing in. Sit down into a squat and as you stand up, press the dumbbells overhead. Complete 12 reps.
- Rotating Plank: Begin in a straight-arm plank, shoulders above elbows, elbows above wrists. Your body should be a straight line from your head to your feet. Engage your core and shift your weight to your left palm, rotating your right arm up toward the ceiling. Your heels will pivot to the floor, and your body will form a “T.” Pause before returning to the start and repeating on the other side. Complete 10 reps on each side.
- Double Crunch: Lie on your back with your legs straight and your hands behind your head, elbows wide. Press your lower back into the ground to engage your core. Lift your head, neck and chest off the ground, while bringing your knees up to your chest. Pause and return to the start. Don’t let your feet or head touch the ground between reps. Do 15 to 20 reps.
- Flutter Kicks: Lie on your back and extend your legs. Place your hands under your hips and press your lower back into the ground to engage your core. Lift your legs about five inches off the ground and kick your feet up one at a time. Complete 25 kicks on each side.
Body-Weight Strength Training for Women at Home
David Chesworth, director of fitness at Hilton Head Health, says when it comes to exercise, body-weight training is great because of its convenience. “I’m a busy person who doesn’t want excuses to get in the way, so needing equipment simply gives you another opportunity to make an excuse,” he says.
But since your body is always with you, you have the opportunity to do something every day to get a good sweat in. Push-ups, lunges, squats, burpees, planks, jumps and other body-weight exercises require zero equipment and can be done pretty much anywhere. Pick a number of reps (let’s say, 10) along with a few of your favorite exercises and put them together into your own workout.
- 10 squats
- 30 seconds jumping jacks
- 10 push-ups
- 30 seconds jumping jacks
- 10 reverse crunches
- 30 seconds jumping jacks
- Rest one minute
10-Minute At-Home Resistance Band Workout
To add some variety to your routine, you might want to include some simple at-home strength training equipment, such as a resistance band. For the following workout from Chesworth, perform each exercise for one minute. Complete one to two rounds total.
- Side steps
- Biceps curls
- Shoulder press
- Low row
- Triceps extension
- Trunk twist
At-Home Yoga Workout for Abs
- Bridge Pose: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor hip-width apart. Lift your hips to the sky. Interlace your hands underneath you and straighten your arms. Draw your chin away from your chest. Hold this pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Boat Pose: Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Extend your arms forward toward your legs. Lean back to engage your core. Raise your feet and slowly start straightening your legs, bringing your body into a V-shape. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Chair Pose: Raise your arms overhead, allowing your shoulders to relax away from your ears. Bend your knees and lower your hips down as if you were sitting in a chair. Shift your weight into your heels as you lift through your chest. Hold for up to one minute.
- Plank Pose: Begin on your hands and toes; lengthen from the crown of your head to your heels. Keep your core pulled into your spine, back is flat. Hold for up to one minute.
- Knee to Nose: Starting in Downward Facing Dog, lift one leg to the sky. Shift your shoulders over your wrists and draw your knee into your nose. Try to kiss the knee as you activate your core. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Chaturanga: Begin in a plank. Lower halfway down, keeping your elbows tucked into your sides. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
- Upward Facing Dog: Lie on the floor with your hands by your chest. Push up until your elbows are almost straight and your hips are lifted off the ground. Take a deep breath and extend your chest to the sky. Repeat 10 times.
Full-Body Workout for Women at Home
Sure, getting a killer workout in at the gym is great, but Kate Ligler, certified fitness trainer and MINDBODY Wellness Program Manager, says grabbing a quick total-body workout at home is surprisingly easy and requires nothing but a plan and a little motivation.
Here, she takes you through a 15-minute core-intensive circuit that focuses on balance, flexibility and strength that will also boost your heart rate, target key muscles and leave you feeling accomplished.
Perform each of these exercises for 30 seconds, alternating legs where necessary, and building to 60 seconds over time. Complete three rounds with minimal rest between exercises.
- Inchworms: From standing, fold at the hips until your hands reach the floor in front of you. Walk forward on your hands until you reach plank position, keeping your legs straight in both the walk out and back as you return to standing.
- Mountain Climbers: Start in a plank and alternate bringing your right and left knee toward your chest.
- Lunges: Stand and step a few feet forward, bending both knees to 90 degrees. Step back to standing and repeat on the other side. Next, step back for a reverse lunge on both legs.
- Single-Leg Deadlifts: Envision picking a pencil off the floor while balancing on one leg. The key is to extend the non-balancing leg behind you and maintain good posture (long spine) as you reach toward the ground.
- Windshield Wipers: Lie on your back and extend your legs to the ceiling, keeping them together for the entire movement. Stretch your arms wide at your sides ensuring your shoulder blades, spine and palms are all in contact with the floor. Slowly drop your legs toward the backside of each hand side-to-side. Fight to keep your shoulder blades pinned to the floor to challenge your postural muscles.
Booty and Abs Workout for Women at Home
Physical therapist and athletic trainer Keaton Ray says her favorite workout to do at home utilizes bands and a series of body-weight activation exercises that target the primary stabilizing muscle groups.
- Deadbug Exercise: Lie on your back with your core tight and against the floor. Perform five sets of 10 of the following arm and leg movements.
- Bicycle kicks
- Double-leg lowering with bent knees
- Leg press
- Scissor kicks
- Double-leg lowering with straight knees
- Plank: Place elbows shoulder-width apart on floor. Press into a plank. If you’re unable to keep your spine in a neutral position, drop to your knees. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Side Plank: Lie on one side while propped up on your elbow and your legs stretched out. Press into your elbow and feet and lift your hips off the floor. If you’re unable to keep your spine in a neutral position, drop to your knees. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
- Bridge: While lying on your back, raise your buttt off the floor as if you’re creating a bridge with your body. Lower back down and repeat 10 times.
- Single-Leg Bridge: While lying on your back, lift one leg and raise your butt off the floor into a bridge position. Keep your pelvis level and your core engaged the entire time. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
- Side-Lying Leg Lifts: While lying on your side, slowly raise up your top leg, keeping your toes pointed forward. Repeat 10 to 15 times on each side.
- Band “Monster” Walks: With an elastic band around your ankles, walk to the side without letting your feet touch. Keep your knees bent and don’t let tension come off of the band. Repeat 10 to 15 times each direction.
- Single-Leg Deadlift: Stand and balance on one leg. Next, lean forward as though you’re touching the floor as you extend and lift your opposite leg behind your body. Return to starting position and repeat. You can keep a minor bend in your knee throughout the exercise. Repeat 10 times on each side.
- Box Squats: With hands out in front of you, bend forwards at the hips, like you’re going to sit back on a chair, and then stand. Use the box or chair under your butt as a target to hit as you pivot from the hips. Repeat 10 times.
- Single-Leg Elevated Split Squat Stand facing away from a bench. Extend one leg back and place the top of the foot on the bench. Squat down by bending at the knee and hip of front leg until the thigh is parallel to the floor. Stand and finish 10 total reps before switching legs.