4 Exercises to Do Daily (or Nightly)

Exercise is my thing. After a workout, my stress eases. I feel energized, and good—like everything in my world has been righted. Before having a family, I worked out 5-6 times a week—whether it was going to the gym, on a run, walk or doing a yoga video. It kept me balanced, and frankly, sane.

After having my son, my workout schedule reduced to 3 or 4 times per week.  It wasn’t perfect, but I was managing. Then, after having my daughter, between running a business, two kids, and a household to manage, my workout schedule consisted of ONE barre class on Saturday morning that I struggled through.  But I went diligently every Saturday—even on no or little sleep because I really liked the instructor. Her spirit and energy would rub off on me, and after the class, I just felt better.

Feeling a little better turned into wanting to feel much better—like I used to.  The reality of working out 5 times per week didn’t seem realistic until I just did it. My mantra was just do a little something every day.  And on those days when I can’t get to the gym or spend an hour doing yoga, I sought a quick workout from my favorite instructor. She shared these four exercises for feeling good and working lots of different muscles.

Say hello to Diana, the barre teacher who brought me back to life.

Exercise #1 - pushup

One Minute of Push-Ups (or 2 sets of 25)

Push-ups are one of the best exercises to work your core, back, arms, and chest. And, with straight legs, they even work your quads when you focus on keeping them tight.

How to do them properly

  • On toes or knees, keep the core tight, chest open and neck straight; hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Lower down about 1-2 inches from the floor, and push back up to starting position.

Notes

For added triceps intensity, start with hands directly under the shoulders, and bend the elbows straight back, keeping arms parallel to your sides. These are more challenging and you can work up to them, but they are great for targeting the triceps.

Quality over quantity! Keep your core tight and back straight throughout the entire movement.  If you notice your back starting to arch, it’s possible you have a weak core. This is easy to get stronger quickly…especially from the next exercise.

Exercise #2 - plank

One Minute of Plank

Plank is great for working the abs, back, shoulders and of course, your core!

How to do them properly:

  • On forearms or hands (forearms are slightly easier), extend both legs behind you, balancing on your toes.
  • Focus on pulling the belly button up to the sky and keeping the hips in line with the shoulders and ankles.

Start by holding the position 20 seconds and repeat. Work up to 1 minute.

Notes:

This is another exercise where it’s very important to watch your form. A tip: video yourself while doing it to ensure you have proper form—straight like a board with no sagging in the middle.

Exercise #3 - lunges

Lunges

Lunges work your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Plus you’ll notice with repetition that your heart rate will start to rise, which is also great work for your heart and lungs!

How to do them properly:

  • Step backwards and bend leading leg with your back knee. Focus on making sure that you can see your front foot; you don’t ever want your front knee hinging over your toes.
  • Aim to get your back knee as low as you can, then come back up, pressing through the front heel (which activates your glutes).
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Aim for 50 reps (1 right and 1 left counts for 1 rep). After your 50 reps, work up to a 20 second hold in the lunge position on each leg to further build your leg strength.

pose

Exercise # 4 - hiit

Get Your Heart Rate Up!

Ideally, aim for 30-45 minutes of cardio at least 3 times a week, and 5 times a week is even better. In a pinch at home, these squats to leg lifts are a great way to give yourself a quick HIIT (high intensity interval training).

How to do them properly:

  • Squat deep, like you’re sitting in a chair, butt back, weight on your heels. Go as low as you can.
  • When you burst up into a side leg lift, keep your leg as straight as you can and use your arms—strong and out to the side.
  • Trying doing it for 30 seconds, building up to 1 minute. Integrate before and after the other exercises, building up to 10 minutes total.

Notes:

Another cardio strategy is to take three 10 minute walks per day—with your morning coffee, after lunch and as a late afternoon pick-me-up.

Just moving, raising your heart rate a little bit (even for 10 minutes!) can make a difference.  Also, getting your heart rate up after a meal, even just slightly, helps reduce your risk of diabetes and increase your metabolism.  Every minute counts – it’s a motto I live by now.

A huge thanks to Diana!

I’d love to hear your favorite fitness strategies or quick workouts.

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