If trying to fit time for exercise into your already-packed schedule seems impossible, consider setting lunch dates with yourself every week. Use this time to break up your day with a quick sweat session at the gym or in the park from Harlem to Hollywood.
We asked Jenny Champion, certified personal trainer, editor of Paleo Barbie and cofounder of Skinny Soiree, to provide a variety of 30-minute exercise routines that can be done virtually anywhere with little to no equipment. “Even if you can only squeeze in a short burst of blood-pumping exercise, it’ll do wonders for your entire body,” says Champion. “Exercise boosts mood, energy levels, circulation, metabolic rate and productivity; well worth the minimal time investment.”
Lower Body Routine
“This lower-body circuit targets glutes and inner thighs, while adding quick bursts of cardio to maximize calorie and fat burning,” says Champion.
To warm up: spend five minutes alternating between hip circles (standing up and moving your hips in a slow, circular motion to loosen your joints), marching in place and sidekicks on each leg. Then complete the following circuit:
- One minute reverse lunges (stepping backwards) on right side
- One minute reverse lunges (stepping backwards) on left side
- One minute jumping jacks
- One minute step-ups (using a step or box)
- One minute plié squats, or wide-legged squats with your feet turned out
- Two minutes jogging in place
- One minute side lunges on right side
- One minute side lunges on left side
- One minute high knees, or jogging in place and lifting your knees as high as possible with every step
Take two minutes to rest, and then repeat the entire circuit. Cool down for three minutes by doing a series of lower body stretches.
Upper Body Routine
“This upper body circuit targets nearly every major muscle in your upper body, with opposing movements to balance muscle stretching and tightening for symmetrical muscle development,” says Champion.
To warm up: Spend five minutes marching in place and warming up your arms with arm circles. Then complete the following circuit. If you don’t have dumbbells, substitute 3- to 5-pound weights for a half gallon of milk and 5- to 10-pound weights for a full gallon of milk.
- One minute triceps dips using a bench or chair. Place your hands at the back of the bench with your body facing away and lower your body down and up using just your arms.
- One minute push-ups (beginners can do the push-ups from their knees if they need to).
- One minute jumping jacks.
- One minute front arm raises using 3- to 5-pound dumbbells in each hand.
- One minute right arm dumbbell rows using 5- to 10-pound dumbbells (see what a dumbbell row looks like here).
- One minute left arm dumbbell rows using 5- to 10-pound dumbbells.
- One minute shadow boxing, or a combination of jab and uppercut punches, or punching in front of your body with your arms extended or straight up in front of your face with your elbows to your sides.
- One minute rear delta flies using 3- to 5-pound dumbbells in each hand (see what a rear delta fly looks like here).
- One minute chest flies using 5- to 10-pound dumbbells (see what a chest fly looks like here).
- One minute high knees (see lower body exercise for details).
Take two minutes to rest, and then repeat the circuit. Cool down for three minutes by doing a series of upper body stretches.
“This 30-minute core circuit works the entire core from front to back, engaging all the major trunk muscles while keeping the heart rate up with short bursts of intense cardio,” says Champion.
To warm up: Spend five minutes jogging in place and warming up your core with cross-body toe touches. Then complete the following circuit:
- One minute basic crunches with your feet on the ground
- One minute superman exercise, or lying on your stomach and lifting up your arms and legs at the same time, using your lower back to support you (see what a superman looks like here)
- One minute shadow boxing (see upper body exercise for details)
- One minute standard plank, or holding your body in a push-up position without moving your arms into an actual push-up
- One minute bicycle crunches, or placing your hands behind your head and touching your elbow to your opposite leg and repeating (see what a bicycle crunch looks like here)
- One minute superman twists, or moving into a superman exercise position with your hands behind your head and twisting to one side (see what a superman twist looks like here)
- One minute burpees, or squat thrusts (see what a burpee looks like here)
- One minute reverse crunches, or lying on your back with your hands on the ground and lifting your legs up and down
- 30-second right-side plank (see what side planks look like here)
- One minute V-ups, or lying on your back with your arms and legs extended and simultaneously lifting your upper and lower body to touch your feet (see what V-ups looks like here)
- 30-second left-side plank
Take two minutes to rest and then repeat the circuit. Cool down for three minutes by doing a series of core stretches.
“This plyometric circuit creates maximum resistance using your own body weight to build strength and power while burning the most fat possible in a short period of time,” says Champion.
To warm up: Spend five minutes jogging in place and warming up your upper and lower body with arm and hip circles. Then complete the following circuit:
- One minute split squat jumps, or beginning in a lunge and switching legs as you jump up into the air (see how to perform a split squat jump here).
- One minute jump push-ups, or pushing your upper body up into the air at the top of a push-up and landing in a push-up position. These can be done against a wall for beginners (see what a jump push-up looks like here).
- One minute right leg hops.
- One minute left leg hops.
- One minute skipping.
- One minute box jumps, or jumping up and down on a box, beginning and ending in a squat position. If you don’t have a box, use a step (see what a box jump looks like here).
Take one minute to rest, and then repeat the circuit twice. Cool down for three minutes by doing a series of upper and lower body stretches.
Jessica Remitz is a freelance writer and web producer living in Brooklyn. Her work has been featured in a variety of health and lifestyle websites including Spafinder, FitPregnancy and Everyday Health. To see additional writing samples and learn more about Jessica’s work, visit her website.