Most of us know that physical fitness is good for us. We read about the positive effects of exercise all of the time. We feel much better when we do it. But even with that knowledge and first-hand experience, it can be difficult to find the motivation. The most common excuses people give are time, energy, expense, and straight-up not feeling like it.1 For all of those reasons, here’s the perfect answer: the lazy day workout.
A lazy day workout doesn’t rely on a personal trainer, an accountability partner, or even a gym membership. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment or special equipment. This is a workout you can do at home in your living room – maybe even while you’re watching Netflix.
Can You Really Get In A Good Workout Without Going To The Gym?
Can an at-home workout really provide you with the same level of fitness as the gym can? While traditional weight training is beneficial for many, some experts believe that the best fitness tool you have is your own body. Exercise that leverages your own body weight:
- Is affordable and super efficient
- Uses minimal equipment
- Can support flexibility
- Can support weight loss
- And perhaps most importantly, takes away all of those “inconvenient” or “no time” excuses2,3
What Is The Most Efficient Way To Exercise For Weight Loss?
If you’re interested in weight loss, you’ll want to make sure you’re combining cardio with strength training when you exercise. Incorporating strength training may help with burning belly fat and calories more than just cardio on its own.4
One way to make sure you’re getting both types of exercise is to try circuit or interval training. Doing moves that engage multiple muscle groups can help you build strength. Doing these moves back-to-back with minimal rest time will give you some calorie-burning cardio.5
At-Home Exercises That Require No Equipment
Here are some easy exercises you can use to build your own circuit at home. Just make sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise regimen.
While you may not associate cardio with a “lazy” workout, cardio is a great way to get your heart rate up and burn some calories in an efficient way. If you want to squeeze in an effective workout in the shortest amount of time, you’ll want to consider cardio. You can intersperse these cardio exercises with strength exercises to create a cardio/strength circuit.
Cardio exercises may help you build muscle, burn calories, and eventually lose weight. Here are some cardio exercises you can do in your living room while you wait for Netflix to load.6
Why: Mountain climbers raise your heart rate, build strength, and activate your core.
How: Starting in a high plank position(arms out straight), quickly bring one knee to your chest and then back out again. Repeat continuously, alternating knees each time.7
Why: Jumping jacks are an efficient exercise that works your heart, lungs, glutes, quads, and hip flexors all at the same time.
How: Stand straight with your arms to the side. Jump up and spread your feet apart while you bring your arms above your head. Jump again, lowering your arms and bringing your legs together. Repeat.8
Jogging In Place
Why: This is a simple movement that increases your heart rate.
How: Simply jog in place. To increase the intensity, increase your speed or the height of your knees as you jog. To decrease intensity, decrease your speed to a walk.9
Why: Pushups are a fast, effective exercise for building upper body strength.
How: To perform a traditional pushup, start in a high plank position with your palms flat and your hands shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your body toward the floor until your chest or chin touches the ground, taking care not to let your hips sag or hike upward. Press upward. Repeat.10
Why: This simple exercise activates the core and may help build arm and shoulder strength.
How: Sit on the very edge of a chair or couch with your legs extended, feet hip-width apart, and heels touching the ground. Grip the edge of your chair next to your hips, fingers pointed forward. Slide forward so you are hovering over the ground, and lower yourself down until your elbows bend at a 45-90 degree angle. Slowly push yourself back up and repeat.11
Why: Side planks strengthen your side body and stabilize your spine.
How: Lay on your side with your legs extended and your forearm flat on the floor. Engage your core and lift your hips off the floor, keeping your elbow lined up directly under your shoulder. Hold and repeat.12
Why: You’ll work your abs, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back with this simple movement.
How: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hinge at your hips and lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Press your feet down to jump as high as you can. Repeat.13
Why: Side lunges help stabilize your hips and work the sides of your glutes.
How: Stand with your feet together and hands clasped in front of you. Take a large step out with your right leg, immediately lowering into a lunge. Straighten the right leg and then repeat with your left leg.14
Squat Calf Raises
Why: This squat variation can act as an effective hip, thigh, and calf toner.
How: Stand with your feet wide apart, toes turned out, and hands on your hips. Bend your knees over your toes and lower into a squat. In this squat position, lift your heels up and then press them back down. Repeat.15
Total Body (Compound) Exercises
Total body or compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Some simple movements, like squats, are inherently compound. Others combine two exercises into one move. For example, a lunge with a bicep curl would target both your legs and arms.
Because you’re working multiple muscle groups, these are some of the most efficient exercises you can do. When you’re looking to work out for the least amount of time possible, total body exercises are your friend.16
Reverse Lunge With A Knee Lift
Why: This exercise targets your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
How: Take a step back with your left foot and drop down so your knees both bend at 90-degree angles. Extend both knees and transfer your weight onto your right foot. As you transfer your weight, lift up your left foot and bring it to your chest. Release your leg and repeat on the other side.17
Single Leg Deadlift
Why: This exercise helps with balance, stability, and overall posterior strength.
How: Stand with both feet under your hips and drive one foot back directly behind you, keeping it straight. At the same time, slowly hinge at the waist, tipping your torso forward. Keep your arms out at shoulder length and reach for the floor.18
Why: Squats use multiple lower body muscle groups at once.
How: Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips, toes pointed slightly outward. Look straight ahead and lower yourself down into a squat. Rise up and repeat.19
Why: A plank is a simple, low impact exercise that works your core as well as your shoulders, arms, and glutes.
How: Plant your hands under your shoulders, as if you’re about to do a pushup. Keep your head in line with your back and hold your body in a stabilized position. Hold the position for as long as you can.20
Bird Dog Crunch
Why: This exercise is a great lower back and ab workout.
How: Kneel on the floor or a yoga mat if you have one. Reach one arm out in front of you while you extend the opposite leg behind you. Pull your extended arm and knee in toward you, touching your elbow to your knee. Repeat and then switch sides.21
Why: Bicycle crunches target your rectus abdominis and obliques in one easy exercise.
How: Lie flat on your back in a sit-up position with your hands behind your head. Bring your knees in toward your chest, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Turn your upper body to the left and bring your right elbow to your left knee. At the same time, straighten your right leg. Switch sides and repeat this motion.22
Putting It Together: Create Your Perfect At-Home Workout Routine
Now that you know some simple exercises that target different muscle groups, you’re ready to create your own lazy workout plan.
How To Create An At-Home Workout Circuit
- Decide how long you want to exercise. Aim for 10-45 minutes.
- Pick one exercise that will target each muscle group: upper body, lower body, total body, core, and cardio. Scroll up to see ideas for each muscle group.
- If you’re a beginner, plan to do each exercise for 30 seconds each, with a 30-second rest in between. If you’re more advanced, do each exercise for 60 seconds with a 60-second rest in between.
- Plan to repeat your circuit all the way through until your allotted time is up. Allow yourself to rest for a full minute between each circuit.
- Aim for at least 2-3 circuits.23,24
An Example Lazy Workout You Can Borrow
Warming up before you exercise can lower your risk of injury, increase your range of motion, and improve your performance. Try this:
- Get up and walk around your apartment.
- Do some light lunges or squats.
- Stretch all the muscles you plan to use.25
- Upper body: Pushups for 30 seconds
- Rest for 30 seconds.
- Lower body: Side lunges for 30 seconds
- Rest for 30 seconds.
- Total body: Single leg deadlift for 30 seconds
- Rest for 30 seconds.
- Core: Plank for 30 seconds
- Rest for 30 seconds.
- Cardio: Mountain climbers for 30 seconds
- Rest for a full minute, and then repeat the entire circuit 2-3 times.
To transition from your lazy workout back to your couch, remember to do a cool down. Here are some cool down ideas:
- Walk around your house.
- Stretch your legs, chest, arms, and core.
- Do a few low intensity jumping jacks or squats.
And just like that, your lazy workout is complete!
Make It Your Own
If you’re feeling lazy or tired, you can always decrease the intensity by slowing down your movements. If you’re sore from a previous workout, you can avoid certain muscle groups and focus on others. Feel free to try new exercises and skip over ones that you don’t like. Hey, this is your house and your rules! Just make sure to get your doctor’s approval before giving any new exercise a try.