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.
Even better: You don't need a ton of fancy equipment to get the job done. Since your body is always with you, you have the opportunity to do something every day to get a good sweat in, says David Chesworth, director of fitness at Hilton Head Health. Push-ups, lunges, squats, burpees, planks, jumps and other body-weight exercises require zero equipment and can be done pretty much anywhere.
We asked 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
The meat of what your at-home workout entails is entirely up to you. To get the most bang for your buck, lean into compound exercises — or movements that target multiple muscle groups at once. Here, Erin Bailey, Boston-based personal trainer, offers up four excellent moves to incorporate into your routine.
Move 1: Squat and Press
A squat to press is a great total-body, low-impact exercise. "You'll get your heart rate up quickly without putting excessive pressure on your joints," Bailey says. "Plus you're engaging your lower body with the squat, your upper body on the press and your core to stabilize the full movement together."
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Hold a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders, palms facing in. ("You can typically choose a weight that's a little heavier than what you might typically do for a standard shoulder press because you're using the momentum of your squat to lift the weights up," she adds.)
- Sit down into a squat and press the dumbbells overhead as you stand up.
- Complete 12 reps.
Move 2: Rotating Plank
Your core is one of the most important muscle groups in your body, supporting you through day-to-day movement. Rotating planks are one of the better core-strengthening exercises because they don't just isolate the core, you're also engaging your shoulders, back, glutes and quads, adds Bailey. "It's more bang for your buck."
- 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.
If this feels difficult, modify by dropping down to low plank. "You’ll feel your core engage, and may not be able to hold your plank as long, but you’ll be activating the right muscles!" Bailey says.
Move 3: Double Crunch
This exercise strengthens your lower abs, says Bailey, stressing the importance of keeping your lower back glued to the floor throughout. "I had a mentor trainer years ago tell me to think like there's a line of ants crawling under the small curve of your back and you need to squish the ants. It really stuck with me."
- 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.
Move 4: Flutter Kicks
This one works your full abdominals — and can be super difficult, says Bailey. "The feeling you'll get — especially in those lower abs that women are often trying to target — is brutal," she says. "This is a great go-to movement to add to your at home routine."
- 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.
Read more: 7 Yoga Poses to Tone Your Abs at Home
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 moves.
Read more: How to Get Started Working Out at Home
Move 1: 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.
- Walk your hands back in and return to standing.
Move 2: Mountain Climbers
- Start in a plank.
- Alternate bringing your right and left knee toward your chest.
- Keep switching legs as you pick up the pace.
Move 3: Lunges
- From standing, step one foot forward, and lower down as you bend both knees to 90 degrees.
- Step back to standing and repeat on the other side.
- Step the first foot backward for a reverse lunge, then repeat on the other side.
Move 4: 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.
Move 5: Windshield Wipers
- Lie on your back and extend your legs toward 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 lower your legs side-to-side, toward the backside of each hand.
- Fight to keep your shoulder blades pinned to the floor to challenge your postural muscles.