We’ve all been there. You want to work out- you have that gym membership, but it goes unused. You plan to work out three days a week, but work keeps you at the office well into the night. No matter how much discipline you might wish you had, there’s no way to get yourself to the gym without sacrificing sleep at night- which is probably worse for you.
So what’s a savvy young worker to do?
Well, as it turns out, you don’t have to spend an hour at the gym or wake up early to go running in order to energize yourself and raise your confidence levels. There are quite a few exercises you can do at home or in the office (when nobody’s looking) to keep your energy levels high and tone your body!
Also, standard disclaimer, but always consult a medical professional first to make sure that you’re fit and able to perform any sort of strenuous activity!
Now then. On to the exercises!
1) Burpee Push Ups
Burpees. The bane of every soldier and college athlete for time immemorial (I think? When did we even discover burpees?)- and for good reason, because these will both tire you out quickly and work not only your upper body but core and cardio as well, making them a fantastic break at work or at home.
To do a burpee, get on your feet and stand straight up. Your feet should be more or less shoulder width apart. Bring your hands down to the floor just a bit in front of you and bend at the hips- think a frog position, your knees bent and your back straight.
Once your hands touch the ground, jump and flare out your legs behind you, putting yourself in the pushup position. Do the pushup with good form (1 second up and down, look forward, breathe normal) and then immediately reverse what you just did: bring your legs back into the frog position and then leap up. That’s one repetition! For best results, do ten at a stretch, but do however many you feel comfortable with in a short break during the day (you don’t want to be out of breath when your boss comes in).
2) High Knees
I really like this exercise at the beginning of the day right when I’m starting work- it gets my blood pumping and my brain working really quickly. The gist of this exercise is quite simple: you want to run in place, but bring your knees as far up as possible as quickly as possible.
The tendency with high knees is to start to bring them up not as high as you get tired, so for an advanced challenge try holding your hands out in front of you at the level you want to bring your knees to and make sure your knees touch your hands each time. For most of us, however, it’s perfectly okay to bring up the alternate hand to the knee that’s coming up, the same as you would do if you were running.
3) Jumping Jacks
Pretty much everybody did these as a kid, but not everyone can still do them correctly. Even though it’s a pretty easy one, it’s still great for cardio and core strength provided you do them strenuously and use your full range of motion.
You probably know how to do these, but for those who don’t: stand straight up with your legs together and your hands down at your sides. Jump up and bring your legs out so they land wider than shoulder width: they should go far enough that you feel the stretch, but not far enough that it’s uncomfortable. At the same time, your arms should go above your head in so that your hands touch directly above your head, and then reverse the motion back to the starting position- that’s one repetition.
The faster you do this exercise the more benefits you’ll see from the cardio / core side. Also, try to stay on your toes- landing on your heels slows you down and isn’t exactly great for your them either.
While also a hilariously short-lived Instagram fad, planking is a great way to increase your core strength and work your abs. To plank, get almost into a pushup position- except instead of keeping your arms straight down, bend them at the elbow so you’re resting on your forearms and bring your arms slightly in, about shoulder width, and keep your whole body straight (this is harder than it sounds). Try to hold the position for at least 15 seconds, relax, and then repeat.
5) Wall Sitting
This one’s kind of self explanatory- find a wall and sit on it. Go to a wall, place your back to it, and slide down until your knees are extended at a 90 degree angle, your back is straight, and your knees do not extend past your toes. Make sure to put your hands on your head or at your side, not on your knees, and remember not to extend your knees past your toes or you may be in for some knee pain!
There’s no set rotation or max for these- just do them whenever you’ve got a little down time at home or in the office, just 2 or 3 minutes here and there. That’ll add up over the course of the day, and pretty soon you’ll find that you’re feeling better than you ever were!