Quick-Fix Fitness: a Busy Girl’s Guide to Daily Cardio

So…not enough hours left in the day for exercise, huh?

Sorry. Not an excuse anymore!

A solid sweat doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Therefore, the following workout plan is not only unfussy and effective, it’s fast.

Ideal for an on-the-go lifestyle, knock out these moves in just 5-10 minutes, and viola! Cardio quota met. Without compromising that all-important schedule in the process.

You’re welcome.


  •     Ski Jumps (50 Reps):
  1. Stand with your knees slightly bent and feet planted shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your arms at the elbows, and tuck them tightly into your body.
  3. Clench your hands into fists, then stack the hips and butt behind the thighs.
  4. Jump approximately 1 foot to the left and land in the same starting posture.
  5. Rest for a couple seconds, then jump approximately 1 foot back to the left.

ski jump

  • Burpees (50 Reps):
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then bend down into a full squat.
  2. Place your hands on the ground in front of you to steady the lower body.
  3. Kick your legs into a plank position with the arms still supporting your weight.
  4. Lower the body into a push-up, then hold for a few seconds and lift your chest.
  5. Jump your feet back to a squatting position, then launch yourself into the air.
  6. Clap your hands above your head and land with your feet shoulder-width apart.

burpee 1        burpee 2   

  • High Knees (50 Reps):
  1. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart and arms down at your sides.
  2. Clench your hands into fists and extend the arms in front of your body.
  3. Bend your arms at the elbows to form a parallel right angle on each side.
  4. Lift your right leg, bent at the knee and pull it into your chest at a left angle.
  5. Simultaneously, twist your upper body to the right and lower your left elbow.
  6. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then lower your leg back down.
  7. Shift your focus to the alternating left leg and right arm, then repeat Steps 1-6.

high knees

  • Glute Kicks (50 Reps):
  1. Stand straight with your feet touching and arms hanging down at your sides.
  2. Shift your weight over to the right leg, while bending and lifting the left leg.
  3. Point your left foot and lift it all the way up your butt, or as close as you can.
  4. Simultaneously, bend your arms at the elbows and pump them back-and-forth.
  5. Lower the left leg, then shift your focus to the right leg and repeat Steps 1-4.

glute kick

  • Jumping Jacks (50 Reps):
  1. Stand straight with your feet touching and arms hanging  down at your sides.
  2. Bend your knees slightly, then propel your body a few inches into the air.
  3. While in the air, jump your legs out to each side, about shoulder-width apart.
  4. Simultaneously, bend your arms at the elbows and lift them above your head.
  5. When your fingers touch overhead, plant your feet firmly on the ground.
  6. Jump your legs back to the starting position and lower the arms back down.

jumping jack

My Top Picks for an “I Hate Working Out” Work-Out

You lack the motivation to tell your “Orange Is the New Black” addiction it’s time to explore other (more physical?) activities. The sheer notion of going for a jog or brushing the dust off those 5-pound weights just exhausts you. There are so many scribbles in your Lilly Pulitzer planner you don’t even have 10 spare minutes to sweat. You detest sports bras. And lycra…let’s not even touch that subject. (“No really! I’m doing a service for everybody else at the gym. No one wants to see these rolls!”). You’re notorious for making that same New Year’s Resolution every single January, then losing interest by mid-February.

In short, working out: not your thang.

Sound familiar?

Hey, you’re not alone. After all, exercise often gets a bad rap. It’s painful. It’s boring. It’s tiring. It’s daunting. It’s time consuming. It’s…blah, right? Well, at first it is. But here’s the good news: if you power through the sore muscles, fatigue, and recurring thoughts of “there are about a million other things I’d rather be doing,” you might just make a life-changing discovery. Exercise feels amazing! Invigorating. Empowering. Revitalizing. Suddenly you’ve got enough strength and stamina to run circles around the baddest bitch from “OITNB.” Hell. You’re the freakin’ Energizer Bunny!

But the fact remains that many of us still struggle with finding the willpower to push past temporary discomforts of physical exertion in order to reap long-term benefits. If that sounds suspiciously like the story of your life, then stand by. I’ve been busy scouring the web for some foolproof, fun, fast, and fairly simple work-outs that’ll make getting a sweat on easier than you ever imagined.

Anyone can learn to love the burn. Women, who never played a sport in their lives, can unleash inner-athletes when they dare to try. Those, who argue they just don’t have enough time, can find ways to make physical activity part of their daily routines.

And that means YOU too.

Yup, even you can get up and move (and enjoy it to boot!). Check out my recommendations below, choose the work-out regimen that best suits your lifestyle, and start pumping those muscles. Because, girlfriend, a healthy body is a sexy body!


For Cardio Training:

1. Go for a bike ride. Intensity for your legs and relaxation for your mind, that’s the beauty of a 2-wheeler. Pick a scenic route to distract yourself from the continuous pedaling motion. Start at a leisurely pace for 30 minutes, then gradually increase to vigorous for 1 hour. So, to recap: fresh air, nature, and toned thighs. #Winning.

2. Play some DDR. Movement doesn’t have to be conventional or even choreographed. It can be as simple as jumping around your living room, courtesy of Dance Dance Revolution. Challenge yourself with the “Maniac” mode and see how long you can keep pace before getting booed off the stage. Never has sweating been so fun.

3. Take the plunge. Swimming laps is one of the most effective full-body exercises like…ever. So, “beach babes” and “pool partiers,” take heart: your natural habitat can be part of your fitness plan. For someone of average endurance, a basic routine would include 2 breaststroke laps, 2 freestyles, 2 backstrokes, and 2 butterflies.


For Strength Training:

1. Jump Squat: This move targets both your upper and lower body. Follow these steps to execute a jump squat: (1) lace fingers behind head and stand with feet shoulder-width apart (2) bend knees slightly to gain momentum, then launch straight into the air (3) after landing, lower body down as far as you can with hips and glutes pushed back  (4) hold for 5 counts, then raise yourself back to a standing position (5) repeat 20 times. You should particularly feel the burn in your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes,

Image

(image courtesy of healthfulpage.com)

2. Bicycle Crunch: This move primarily targets your core. Follow these steps to execute a bicycle crunch: (1) lie flat with lower back pressed into the floor (2) lace fingers at the base of neck and contract abdominal muscles (3) raise legs to a 45-degree angle and bend knees (4) move legs in a circular motion as though pedaling a bike (5) lift upper body off the floor and twist from one side to the other, alternately touching one elbow to the opposite knee (6) repeat 30 times on each side. You should particularly feel the burn in your obliques.

Image   

(image courtesy of sassyfitgirl.com)

3. Push-Up: This move primarily targets your upper body. Follow these steps to execute a push-up: (1) lower down to a plank position with hands facing forward and spread shoulder-width apart (2) flatten back and push glutes down, creating a straight slant along spine (3) clench glutes and tighten abdominal muscles (4) bend elbows and lower body down, while still maintaining a straight spine (5) hold this position for 2 counts, then raise back up into a plank (5) repeat 40 times. You should particularly feel the burn in your triceps, deltoids, and pectorals.

Image

(image courtesy of fitsugar.com)