With so many people working from home — and the trend likely to continue in the coming years — it has become more important than ever to find ways to stay motivated throughout the day.
Whether at home or in the office, it can be challenging to remain alert and energized from nine to five. The dreaded mid-day slump is a daily hurdle for many professionals, but if you can spare five minutes, you can turn your day around!
Try these quick energy-boosting exercises to rev up your workday:
Cardio and Strength Combo
Research shows that just five minutes of aerobic exercise is enough to create powerful stress-fighting effects in your body. When you combine cardio and strength training, you can quickly get your heart pumping and revitalize your day. Try this cardio and strength training combo to banish fatigue:
Squat Kick with Punch
Alone, squats are an effective lower-body exercise. To gain full-body benefits, try adding a kick and punch into the mix:
- Start with your feet parallel to one another and hips-width apart, as you would for a squat.
- Squeeze your core muscles by thinking about pulling your navel towards your spine.
- Hold a pair of dumbbells — around three pounds each — at your chest.
- Bend at the knees, as if you’re going to sit in a chair, and squat.
- Drive through the heels to stand up straight.
- As you rise, kick your right leg in front of you at hip height.
- Either add a simultaneous punch with the right arm or return to the squat position and punch as you rise.
- Return to the squat position and repeat on the left side.
- Continue this exercise for an interval of 60 seconds.
Weighted Skater Lunge
Skater lunges are a popular plyometric movement. To complete a weighted skater lunge:
- Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides and stand in a neutral position.
- Step to the right with your right foot.
- Think about gliding as you reach your left leg behind your right — this is known as a skater step or lunge.
- As you reach the end of your glide, extend the right arm forward and upwards, as you would when bowling.
- Repeat the motion on the opposite side.
- Alternate sides and continue the motion for 60 seconds.
To fire up your abs, add twisting crunches into your routine:
- Lie flat on the ground with your knees bent.
- Make sure your lower back maintains contact with the ground.
- Hold your dumbbells at the center of your chest.
- Engage your abs to curl your upper body upwards.
- As you complete the crunch, bend your right leg and extend your left in a bicycle-like motion.
- At the same time, twist towards your right knee and extend your arms on the outside of your bent knee.
- Switch sides — this time bending the left knee, extending the right, and twisting towards the left side.
- Keep your abs engaged and upper body lifted as you alternate sides for 60 seconds.
High Knee Presses
This combination exercise requires balance and focus. To complete a high knee press:
- Start by standing upright with your feet directly under your hips.
- Hold your pair of dumbbells just over your shoulders.
- Press the dumbbells upward to complete a standard dumbbell press.
- As you press upward, lift your right knee to hip height.
- Return to your starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
- Alternate between the right and left side for 60 seconds.
Classic pushups are an effective way to build upper-body strength, but adding a kickback gets your whole body involved:
- Set up a yoga mat on the floor to protect your knees and wrists.
- Start on your hands and knees, engaging your core and thinking about pulling your navel towards your spine.
- Make sure your shoulders are aligned with your wrists and your hips are aligned with your knees.
- Bend your elbows to lower into a pushup position.
- As you press down, lift and extend your right leg.
- Press up and lower your leg, returning to your starting position.
- Repeat the motion but kick back with the opposite leg.
- Continue, alternating sides, for 60 seconds.
Utilize this quick energy-boosting routine as often as every other day. Alternate with other low-impact activities, like walking, to keep your body moving.
Revitalizing Office Routine
If you’re confined by space, professional attire, or an aversion to sweating mid-workday, try this office-friendly exercise routine:
Take two minutes to assume a power pose. According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, power posing can alter your brain chemistry, boost testosterone, and lower the stress hormone, cortisol. While there are many power poses you can try, the most popular is the Wonder Woman or Superman pose. To achieve this energizing pose:
- Stand upright with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Take a deep breath inward and think about lengthening your spine to stand taller.
- Place your hands on your hips.
- Lift your chin.
- Focus on your breathing and hold the pose for two minutes.
- Feel your confidence and energy start to rise.
After you have completed your power pose and deep breathing, find a space in your office with enough room for pushups. Place a towel under your knees if needed. To complete your pushup burnout:
- Start either on all fours or in a plank position.
- Lower yourself down using proper pushup form.
- Complete as many pushups as you can in 60 seconds.
The goal is to get your heart pumping and open the chest and shoulders. This short burst of pushups should boost adrenaline and give you a jolt of energy.
To finish this office-friendly routine, you can complete a short meditation:
- If you have a couch in your office, take a moment to lie flat.
- If you don’t have a couch nearby, rest your arms and head on your desk or simply sit back in your chair and place your palms on your legs.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- Breathe deeply and with intention. Try to block out any distracting thoughts or worries.
- Breathe in for five seconds.
- Hold gently for five seconds.
- Breathe out slowly for five seconds.
- Repeat this fifteen-second circuit for one full minute — or try a one-minute guided meditation.
Meditation is a simple way to quickly reduce stress, making it the perfect way to end a short at-home or in-office revitalizing routine.
Quick Cardio Circuit
Sometimes the best way to reclaim your day is to get your blood flowing. Try this classic cardio blast to get pumped for the second half of your workday:
Most people are familiar with jumping jacks, but it is important to complete them with proper form:
- Start by standing in a neutral position, with your feet directly under your hips and your arms at your sides.
- Jump into a star position by hopping your feet out to shoulder-width apart and raising your arms to a high “v” shape.
- Return to the starting position by hopping your feet back in and dropping your arms by your side.
- Repeat this motion for one minute.
Alternately, you can kick off your cardio session with one minute of jumping rope. The goal is to immediately elevate your heart rate.
You may remember cherry pickers from your middle school P.E. class, but this simple exercise is a great way to wake your body up:
- Start by standing in the middle of your yoga mat, facing the long side of the mat.
- Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Raise your arms above your head and press one hand over the other — as if you are going to dive into a pool.
- Keeping your core engaged, bend at the waist to touch the front of your mat.
- Maintaining a tight core, lift slightly before touching the mat directly between your feet.
- Still squeezing your abs, lift slightly before touching the mat as far behind you as possible.
- Continue keeping your abs engaged as you return to your starting position.
- Take your time rolling up to avoid lightheadedness.
- Repeat this sequence for 60 seconds.
This is aclassic variation of the cherry picker. If it is uncomfortable to reach straight through, you can also complete the exercise by touching the mat in front of your right shoe, followed by touching the center, and ending with touching the mat in front of your left shoe. If you can’t reach the floor, lightly bounce in a folded position, being careful to protect your spine and hamstrings.
High knees is a deceptively challenging exercise! To complete high knees:
- Start by standing in a neutral position.
- Lift your right knee as high as you can.
- Pump the left arm as you would when running.
- Switch sides by thinking of a bouncing motion.
- Repeat the high knee sequence as rapidly as you can for 60 seconds.
To maximize the core strengthening benefits of mountain climbers, it is important to execute them with proper form:
- Start on all fours on your yoga mat.
- Placing your wrists directly under your shoulders, assume a plank position.
- Lift your right knee into your chest, being careful not to hunch your back or shoulders.
- Switch legs, pulling the left knee into the chest.
- Similar to high knees, repeat this sequence as quickly as you can for 60 seconds.
To truly get your heart pounding, incorporate burpees into your mid-day cardio. To complete a burpee the right way:
- Start in a neutral position, facing the short side of your yoga mat.
- Bend your knees into a squat position as you prepare to jump.
- Swinging your arms above your head, drive through your feet to push off the mat.
- Make sure to land softly out of your jump by returning to the squat position.
- Your chest should remain upright and open throughout.
- Keeping your spine long, place your hands flat on the mat.
- Engage your core and hop your feet back into a plank position.
- Press down into a pushup before returning to your plank.
- From here, hop your feet back in to return to a squat position.
- Repeat this motion as many times as you can — with proper form — for 60 seconds.
If a burpee is too intense, you can modify the exercise by removing the pushup, walking your feet out into a plank position, or eliminating the jump.
To complete your power circuit, execute side squats:
- Start in a neutral position.
- Step straight out to the right side.
- Bend your right leg as you connect with the mat, dropping into a one-legged squat.
- Your opposite leg should remain straight.
- Let your left toes lift or shift to a 45-degree angle as needed.
- Push off the mat with your right foot to return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Alternate sides for 60 seconds.
After a rigorous circuit, it is important to set aside a few extra minutes to stretch. Finish your mid-day power boost by rehydrating before returning to your desk.
Dynamic Stretch Sequence
If you’re looking to get your body moving without breaking an afternoon sweat, this dynamic stretch sequence is the perfect solution:
Meant to open the chest and loosen the back, the standing cat-cow is a great way to combat stiffness caused by sitting at your desk. To properly achieve a standing cat-cow:
- Start by standing hip-width apart with your hands on the edge of your desk or placed on your knees.
- Bend your knees as if to sit in a chair.
- Maintaining a neutral spine, bend at the waist so that your back is at a 45-degree angle from the floor.
- If you are using a desk, push away until your arms are parallel to the floor.
- Breathing out, pull your navel to your back and think of rounding your spine.
- Hold for a few seconds.
- Inhale as you arch your spine and open your chest. Think of dropping your navel to the floor.
- Soften your knees as needed.
- Throughout the exercise, maintain your breathing and think of lengthening your spine.
- Repeat the sequence for 60 seconds.
To continue waking up your spine and core, execute a standing rotation:
- Start by standing on your yoga mat of choice.
- Your feet should be directly under your hips.
- As you lift your arms above your head, press your palms together and maintain a long spine.
- Reach forward with your right arm while reaching directly back with the opposite arm.
- Twist away from the leading arm.
- Imagine placing your upper body flat against the wall in front of you to maintain proper alignment.
- When twisting, engage your core to protect your spine.
- Inhale and exhale once before slowly returning to the starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Alternate sides for 60 seconds.
If you are struggling to feel the opposing motion of this subtle exercise, hold a light exercise band in your hands to activate your arms and shoulders.
Squat rotations are an excellent way to stretch your chest and shoulders after being hunched over a computer. To complete a squat rotation or twist:
- Start in a neutral position on your mat.
- Bend your knees slowly to drop into a deep squat.
- Be sure to keep your knees aligned with your heels — your knees should always track over your toes.
- While engaging your core and keeping your chest upright, place your fingertips on the mat.
- Reach your right hand to the sky and keep your arm long and straight.
- Follow your hand with your gaze and chest, twisting towards the lifted arm.
- Slowly return to your deep squat with both hands touching the mat.
- Repeat on the other side while maintaining a strong core.
- Alternate sides for 60 seconds.
If it is more comfortable, you can complete this exercise in a mid-level squat. No matter how deep or shallow your squat, always think about twisting towards the ceiling.
The twisting lunge is an excellent way to energize your legs after a long, sedentary day. To complete a twisting lunge:
- Start with your feet hip-width apart and your hands at your side.
- Step your right leg forward into a lunge, with your front leg reaching a 90-degree angle.
- Think about getting the shin of your left leg parallel to the floor.
- Be sure to keep your knees in line with your ankles at all times.
- Reach your arms straight in front of you.
- For added resistance, you can hold a medicine ball to your chest.
- Gently twist towards your right side while keeping a straight spine.
- Return to your front-facing lunge before stepping back into a neutral position.
- Step out with your left foot and repeat.
- Alternate sides for 60 seconds.
This classic yoga pose is the perfect way to end your five-minute stretch sequence. To properly achieve a dancer’s pose:
- Start with your feet directly under your hips.
- If needed, place one hand on your desk or table for support.
- Lift your right foot from the floor, folding your right leg in half into a basic quad stretch.
- Grab your foot with your free hand.
- Inhale and exhale as you let your quad muscle relax.
- Slowly tip forward, pressing your foot into your hand as you do so.
- Your arm should maintain resistance as you think of kicking the foot away from your body.
- Once your upper body is parallel to the ground, or you’ve tipped as far as you’re able, slowly return to your standing quad stretch.
- Release your foot and return to your original neutral position.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Completing this sequence once on each side should take about 60 seconds.
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