Muscle conditioning is important for overall health, but you don’t have to lift heavy weights to reap the benefits. In fact, you can condition your muscles and stay fit without barbells and plates using these simple exercises from the American Council on Exercise. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. You can squeeze in your half hour sweat session before the day begins.
Single Leg Squat
This move strengthens your butt, calves and thighs without any equipment. Begin with your feet hip-width apart. Position your arms in front of you or at your sides. Shift the weight into your right leg and slightly bend your left leg, keeping your left foot on the ground. As you bend down into a squat, keep the weight in your right side while you keep your hips aligned toward the front. Ground your right foot and push up to straighten the right leg. Return back to starting position and repeat on the left leg. If you would like more of a challenge, keep the supporting leg lifted throughout the exercise. Bonus points for more balance work. Repeat three sets of 12 repetitions on each leg.
Glute Activation Lunge
Next up is a variation on regular lunges with an aim to target the abs, butt, and thighs. Begin with feet hip-width apart and arms raised in front of you. Shift the weight to the left leg and lunge the right leg behind the left leg at a 45-degree angle. Keep your left leg bent at a 90-degree angle and make sure you can still see your toes. Push off with your right leg and return to the starting position. Complete the right side and then switch to the left. If you would like a more basic movement, start out by just lunging directly behind you instead of the angled movement. Repeat three sets of 12 repetitions on each leg.
You can work your abs, arms, back and chest in one simple move. If you’re short on time, this is a good exercise to target multiple muscles. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend into a forward fold and try to keep the knees straight but not locked. Reach your hands to the floor and walk your arms out to a plank position. Your body should be aligned with your hips in a horizontal position. Bend your elbows and perform a pushup with your chest and hips touching the floor at the same time. Come back into the plank position and slowly walk your hands back up to your feet and rise into the starting position. Repeat three sets of 12 repetitions.
Supine Reverse March
Last but not least is the ab exercise series. Lie on your back and bend your knees with both feet flat on the floor. Exhale and lift your right foot off the floor and bring it to a 90-degree angle with your left foot still firmly planted on the floor. Engage your abs and hold for five to 10 seconds and then slowly lower your right foot back to the start. Switch to the left side once you have completed your repetitions. Repeat three sets of 12 repetitions on each side.
Stretch all of the muscles that you worked with a relaxing child's pose. Sit back into a hands-and-knees position with your big toes touching. Widen your knees and exhale as you bend forward. Reach your arms in front of you to stretch out your arms while keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Inhale and exhale as you sit back more deeply into the pose to release tension in your back, abs, legs, butt and arms.
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