7 Best Indoor Exercises You Should Be Doing Now, Fitness Experts Say
Get your workouts in without stepping foot outside.
With temperatures continuing to drop, it can be hard to find motivation to go outside and exercise. But that doesn't mean you need to turn into a couch potato. There are plenty of ways to incorporate daily movement into your routine without leaving the house. Whether you want to burn quick calories or simply stretch your muscles, there are plenty of indoor exercises to choose from. Keep reading to hear from fitness experts about the ones you should be doing now.
Yoga or pilates
Yoga and pilates are great for flexibility and strength. "They can all be performed in the comfort of your own home, taking up the real estate of the average yoga mat," says Mike Masi, CPT and doctor of physical therapy. He recommends practicing three to four times per week.
Joy Puleo, MA, PMA-CPT, Balanced Body education director, adds that these workouts are also mindful activities: "They are ideal for this time of year as they help you to stay in tune with the needs of your body."
Running up and down the stairs
If your home is more than one floor (or you live in a multi-story apartment building), you have one of the easiest cardio tools at your disposal.
Josh York, a personal trainer and the founder of GYMGUYZ, suggests running up and down the stairs at least 15 times. "This will get your heart rate up and put a healthy strain on your muscles," he explains.
Before you get started, however, be sure you have the proper footwear and that the traction on your stairs is good.
Simple bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups are a great option for people of all fitness levels.
"Because there is no added resistance, the intensity and/or frequency of these exercises can be increased due to decreased fatigue and recovery times," says Masi. He recommends doing a bodyweight routine five to six times a week.
If you want to make your workout more challenging, Samantha Clayton, OLY, MS, ISSA-CPT, vice president of sports performance and fitness education at Herbalife, suggests adding a weighted backpack when you're doing squats or lunges.
"The backpack allows for even distribution of weight, and it feels comfortable," she explains. "You can fill the backpack with heavy books or cans of food from the pantry and perform your lunges and squats using good form."
Elevated split squat
One specific bodyweight exercise that experts recommend is the elevated split squat. Simply put your rear leg on a couch, chair, or other raised item, and step your front foot forward into a squat.
"This exercise challenges your balance, which gets you working your core," notes Puleo. "Your calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes are challenged unilaterally… which requires you to drive off of one leg with each stride."
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be done with or without weights. "Many people will think that they have to do HIIT workouts for 30 minutes, but in reality, HIIT workouts aim to ensure we are elevating our heart rates in a shorter time than heading out for a 30-minute walk or run," says Jen Rulon, triathlon athlete, author, coach, and podcast host.
These workouts typically combine bodyweight exercises with cardio like burpees, jumping jacks, or mountain climbers. Rulon says it's important to have both a warm-up and a cooldown, as well as three to four rounds in the middle that are no longer than 15 minutes in total.
Puleo also suggests box hops as a plyometric cardio exercise: "They help you to build explosive speed and learn how to absorb your landing. This will build up hamstring and glute strength."
Strength training with dumbbells
Strength training with weights is key if cardio isn't your cup of tea.
"There are many options for dumbbells, such as DB chest press, DB rows, squats, bicep curls, tricep pushbacks, DB press, DB Romanian deadlifts, etc.," says Rulon, who recommends starting by working on the "weak" parts of your body.
Stan Kravchenko, celebrity trainer and founder at OneFit, specifically recommends three exercises that can be effectively done indoors—a glute bridge dumbbell floor press, a single arm bent over row, and a dumbbell front squat.
"It's because of how dynamic they are at engaging the entire body through compound movements, targeting the lower upper body and core," he explains.
Jumping rope is great for improving cardiovascular health and can get your heart rate up quickly while also working your calves and shoulders. Masi says it can "take as little as five minutes for beginners or 20 minutes for those more familiar."
If you don't have a proper jump rope, Clayton says you can use a regular rope or cord, but be sure that you use only material that won't hurt you upon contact (thick cords work better than thin ones).
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