2020 has been quite a year for everyone. Since the pandemic reached the US, millions of Americans were required to shelter-in-place almost overnight. Restaurants, office buildings, and parks closed...as well as gyms. Whether or not you frequented the gym before quarantine, it’s likely that your level of activity decreased since the pandemic began. And, unless you were specifically hoping to gain weight this year, you’re likely unhappy about any extra weight you might’ve put on.
Whether or not fitness centers have reopened in your city, we recommend spending more time social distancing and avoiding communal spaces like gyms. Here are 12 simple, at-home workouts you can do right from your living room to come back from the quarantine 15.
V-sits are an effective way to target core, external obliques, internal obliques, and hip flexors. You are not alone if you can only do 10-12 before needing to stop! This exercise is excellent to help build your core strength, balance, and coordination. It’s also helpful for maintaining good posture and catching yourself to avoid falls.
An important tip for this exercise: You’ll be tempted to hold your breath—don’t. Take deep, steady breaths throughout the exercise.
* Contract/tighten your ab muscles and lift your legs up to an extended position at a 45-degree angle with your torso
* Reach your arms straight forward (be sure to maintain good core posture and a strong spine and avoid rounding your shoulders forward)
* Hold this position for several seconds
* Return to your starting position slowly while continuing to keep your abs engaged
* Just before you reach the floor, stop and hold the position for a few more seconds
As you get stronger, try holding the position longer.
The classic plank is extremely effective at toning and strengthening your abs—but you have to do it correctly.
* Lay on the floor and prop yourself up by the forearm/elbow
* Ensure your elbows are shoulder-width apart, with your shoulders stacked directly above your elbows
* Extend your legs behind you, feet hip-width apart
* Pull in your tailbone to avoid making an arch with your body; engage your core, butt, and quads
* Hold the position for a set amount of time
We recommend intervals that increase over time. For the first week, you can start with 3 sets of 15-second planks with a 15-second break in-between. The next week, keep the rest at 15 seconds and plank for 20 seconds. Your body is strong—let it get used to the extra 5 second increments until your planking at 60 seconds each interval.
This variation to the traditional crunch can be easier on your neck and help your body flow more easily through the exercise. As with all ab exercises, engage your core—with each repetition, squeeze your stomach or hold it tight. If your core isn’t engaged, you’ll end up putting strain on your neck and upper back without actually exercising your ab muscles.
* Lay flat on your back
* Place your hands loosely behind your head
* Touch your right elbow to your left knee and repeat on the opposite side
* Add some ab tension by ensuring that whichever leg isn’t lifted is extended away from your body without touching the floor
You’ll definitely feel this one after a few repetitions! So take your time, find a good pace, and start off with only a few repetitions. We recommend starting with three sets of 15 total leg lifts then increasing to three sets of 30 lifts.
* Lay flat on your back
* Lift one left and grab your ankle (if you can’t reach, get as close as you can!)
* Take 10 seconds to return that leg to the floor
* Repeat with each leg
* For a better workout, ensure that whichever leg isn’t in the air is hovering above the floor
The classic bicep curl is an effective way to strengthen your biceps and give you lean arms over time. Start small—if you have a 5lb dumbell, grab that to try 15 repetitions with each arm. Over time, increase to 10lbs. If your goal is to strengthen and tone your biceps, keep the weights relatively light and increase your reps. If you’re hoping to bulk up, stick to larger weights but fewer repetitions.
* Hold the dumbbell and start with it at your side, palm facing forward
* Pull the dumbbell toward the shoulder of that same arm and slowly lower to the starting position
* Repeat on each side
This exercise requires steady breathing and plenty of focus. Keep your eyes fixed ahead of you and don’t freak out if your muscles tremble a little! Start with low weights as usual—this one can be pretty tough, even with a 2lb weight.
* Sit on a chair and ensure your feet are flat on the ground and your spine is straight
* Hold a dumbell in each hand
* Hold your arm open at a 90 degree angle at the side of your body (keep your palms facing front)
* Slowly bring the dumbbells in front of you and slowly open your arms to the starting position
This one’s a toughy so get ready to sweat! We recommend starting with 2lb dumbbells. That doesn’t sound like a lot, however, like with the bicep curl, you’ll want to focus on low weights and high repetitions to get toned.
* Stand tall with knees slightly bent
* Hold a dumbbell in each hand or hold a single dumbbell by the sides
* Let your arms hang by your sides, palms facing in
* Keep your elbows slightly bent and raise your arms out to the sides until the dumbbells are level with shoulders (ensure your palms face the floor)
* Lower your arm and repeat
Leg + Booty Workouts
If you have a desk job, sitting all day is less than ideal. Lunges will challenge underused leg muscles and make you stronger and more toned in no time.
* Stand tall with you feet hip-width apart (While this isn’t an ab exercise, you’ll want to keep your core engaged)
* Take a big step forward with your right leg
* Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right shin is vertical (Make sure your right knee doesn’t go past your right toes)
* If you can, lightly tap your left knee to the floor while keeping weight in your right heel
* Press into your right heel to drive back up to the starting position
Start with three sets of 10, then slowly increase repetitions until you can do three sets of 30!
Back Leg Lifts
This one’s perfect to target your quads and glutes. Expect to feel it in your butt and upper thigh. When doing this exercise, make sure to keep your spine as straight as possible and your hips squared since you can get pretty wobbly. We also recommend that you look straight ahead to help keep your balance and move your legs slowly to maintain control.
* Start on all fours with your knees directly under your hips and your palms flat on the floor (make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders)
* Extend one leg straight behind you until it’s at or higher than hip level
* Slowly lower your leg to the starting position and repeat with each leg
As silly as this exercise looks and sounds, it’s effective at toning your butt and giving you that full figure you might be looking for.
* Start on all fours with your knees square under your hips and your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders
* Lift one leg up to the side without shifting your torso to the side and without arching your back
* Slowly return your knee to the mat and lift your other leg
Full Body Workouts
Mountain climbers are one of our favorite full body workouts because they require no equipment and are pretty effective. They’re great for building cardio endurance, core strength, and agility. While you don’t engage every single section of your body with this workout, you do engage several different muscle groups in your arms, abs, and legs.
* Get into a plank position (make sure you distribute your weight evenly between your hands and your toes)
* Pull your right knee toward your chest as far as you can
* Switch legs, pulling one knee out and bringing the other knee in
* Keep your hips down, run your knees in and out as far and as fast as you can
* Alternate inhaling and exhaling with each leg change.
As you perform the move, your shoulders, arms, and chest work to stabilize your upper body while your core stabilizes the rest of your body.
Yoga fads may come and go, but the practice itself maintains its reputation as an effective, calming, and challenging full-body workout. No matter your fitness level, yoga can help you become stronger, more toned, and build your endurance. It may not look like conventional full-body exercises but it’s a consistent player in the world of total health and fitness because it engages the whole body.
Thankfully, it’s a great at home workout option. We recommend browsing YouTube for yoga instruction videos to match your experience level. Another great option is to sign up with a yoga studio—after the pandemic started, many studios moved to online instruction so you can follow along in a LIVE class without leaving home.
Whether you've been gaining weight and want to turn that ship around or simply want to get stronger, these exercises are a great place to start! There a plenty of other workouts, YouTube videos, and online classes that can help you stay fit and healthy, even from inside your home.
Happy toning, strengthening, and growing!