Fast, equipment-free workouts should be your jam. They provide a quick boost of energy to help you power through your day and they elevate your confidence before a night out with friends. Plus, they literally take almost no time at all, so there’s really not an excuse to skip them.
The perfect 15-minute workout
This workout requires no equipment at all, and only incorporates five exercises. Perform each exercise for 50 seconds, as described. Rest for 10 seconds after you complete each exercise before continuing to the next movement. Cycle through the circuit three times for a total-body cardio and strength-training routine. You can perform the basic movement for all three circuits, or you can try the variations provided for an added challenge.
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent. Step your left foot forward roughly two to three feet, planting your foot flat on the ground, weight in your heel. Bend both knees, lowering your back knee toward the floor. Keep your torso straight and tall, core engaged. Make sure your front knee remains aligned with your toes without extending in front of your toes. Just before your back knee touches down, reverse the movement, pressing through your front heel to return to standing. Repeat on the opposite side and continue alternating legs.
- Circuit 1: Basic alternating lunge
- Circuit 2: Walking lunge. Instead of alternating lunges from a static standing position, you'll walk forward as you lunge. After performing your first lunge, press through your front heel, shifting your weight forward to lift your back foot from the ground. As you press to standing with your weight on your front foot, step your back foot forward, past your leading leg, to perform the next lunge.
- Circuit 3: Jumping lunge. Start in a lunge position, feet hip-width apart, but one leg staggered in front of the other. Bend both knees and lower your back knee toward the floor, as if performing a static lunge. When your back knee is just shy of touching the ground, powerfully press through both feet, extending both knees as you jump up into the air, switching the position of your legs before you land. Land softly, knees and ankles slightly bent, and immediately lower yourself into another lunge.
Burpees scare a lot of people, but the basic burpee is straightforward and requires no jumping at all. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent. Squat down, pressing your hips back with your core tight, and plant your hands on the ground just in front of your feet under your shoulders. Hop or step your legs back so they're fully extended and you're in a high push-up position, your body forming a straight line from heels to head. Immediately hop or step your feet back to their original position, and return to standing.
- Circuit 1: Basic burpee
- Circuit 2: Push-up burpee. From the high push-up position, bend both elbows and lower your chest toward the ground, your elbows bending back and out at a roughly 45-degree angle from your body. Press yourself back to the push-up position and continue the burpee.
- Circuit 3: Plyometric burpee. After performing the push-up portion of the burpee, hop or step your feet back to their starting position, and instead of standing up, powerfully push through your feet and extend your legs, jumping up into the air and reaching toward the sky. Land softly with your knees and hips slightly bent and immediately squat back down to start the next burpee.
The side plank helps strengthen the core, particularly the obliques, erector muscles of the spine, and the deep muscles of the core. To perform the basic movement, lie on your right side and prop yourself up on your elbow and forearm, your elbow aligned under your shoulder, your forearm perpendicular to your body. Stack your feet on top of each other, using the outer edge of your right foot for support. Tighten your core, and in a single movement, press through your right foot and supporting forearm as you lift your hips from the floor. Check to make sure your body's forming a straight line from heels to head. Hold for 25 seconds, then switch sides.
- Circuit 1: Basic side plank
- Circuit 2: Extended side plank. Instead of balancing on your forearm, add to the balance challenge by supporting yourself on your palm, your supporting arm fully extended, your palm directly under your shoulder. Place your other hand on your hip or extend it up toward the sky.
- Circuit 3: Side plank and reach. From the extended side-plank position, reach your non-supporting hand up to the sky and look up toward your extended palm. After finding your balance, bring your non-supporting arm down and reach it under your lifted body, following the movement with your eyes. Reach as far as you comfortably can without losing your balance, then reverse the movement and extend the arm back to the sky.
Skaters engage your core and work your entire lower body as you move laterally, which helps target the adductors, abductors, and stabilizing muscles of your hips. Start by performing a step-out skater to master the movement, then make it plyometric by hopping from side to side.
Start standing, feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent. Shift your weight to your right foot and step your left leg behind and across your body in a diagonal motion, touching the ball of your left foot to the ground as you simultaneously sweep your left arm across your body, reaching toward your right foot. After touching the ground to the inside of your right foot, reverse the movement and step your left foot laterally to the left, planting it on the ground. Shift your weight to your left foot and step your right leg behind and across your body in a diagonal motion. Touch the ball of your right foot to the ground as you simultaneously sweep your right arm across your body, reaching toward your left foot. Continue this back-and-forth, skater-like motion.
- Circuit 1: Step out skaters
- Circuit 2: Speed skaters. Rather than stepping from side to side, make the movement plyometric by adding a hop from one leg to the other as you switch sides.
- Circuit 3: Speed skaters (again)
Tighten your core and work the stabilizing muscles of your shoulders and hips by trying plank variations. The basic plank is simple. Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, then lower your forearms to the floor, your elbows under your shoulders. Step your legs behind you, planting the balls of your feet. Check to make sure your body forms a straight line from heels to head, your hips steady. Hold this position.
- Circuit 1: Basic plank
- Circuit 2: High plank. Rather than supporting your body with your forearms, plant your palms on the ground under your shoulders, as if setting up to do a push-up. Hold this position.
- Circuit 3: Plank up-downs. During the plank up-downs, you switch from a high plank to a basic plank position throughout the exercise. Start in a high plank, arms extended, body straight, core tight. Lower yourself into a basic plank by placing one forearm on the ground, followed by the other forearm. Once you're in the basic plank position, reverse the movement and shift back into a high-plank position by planting one palm on the ground, followed by the other palm. Continue this movement, alternating which forearm and palm you lead with to change position.
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