Morning hours are hectic for me—most of the time, I only have a few minutes to workout at home.
And I know many moms are just like me, being pressed with time especially in the morning. Getting the kids ready for school, getting yourself ready—the list goes on and on.
I had to find a way to fit exercise into my morning routine.
I needed a morning workout routine that's short, hassle-free and simple. It had to be just a few exercises.
In my search of the perfect morning workout, the closest thing I came across was the 7 Minute Workout Challenge, a workout that consists of 12 bodyweight exercises and takes just 7 minutes to complete.
The only problem for me was there were too many exercises to rotate from.
I wanted a simpler workout without sacrificing quality and effectiveness. So, with my Fitwirr's fitness expert, personal trainer and I put together a list of 4 exercises involving only your bodyweight.
This simple 4-exercise workout includes bodyweight squat, push-up, plank, and bicycle crunche—the four absolute essentials to work the whole body.
How to Do The Workout
The workout is performed as a circuit workout, where you take little to no rest in between the exercises.
- 15 squats
- 15 push-ups
- 30 seconds plank
- 15 bicycle crunches
The total time to complete 1 set of all four exercises is 6 minutes. And of course if you have more time, you can do more sets.
The best thing about this is its simplicity and effectiveness.
It's simple and takes just 6 minutes. What's not to like about it?
It gets my heart pumping and the energy flowing every single time. And most importantly, it helps me start my day on the positive note.
But apparently, that's not all the perks. There is more. According to research, morning workout even helps with fat burn.
One research states that working out on an empty stomach can increase your fat burn by 20%. And this is easiest to achieve early in the morning before breakfast, because your body is naturally in the fasted state.
I have to admit, this extra perk does motivate me to get up a little earlier to squeeze a set or two.
If you're interested in the scientific research of morning workout, check out those awesome studies.
- University of Michigan reported that working out in the morning not only elevates your metabolism, increasing the amount of calories your body burns but also improves your sleep cycle and boosts energy by getting an endorphin rush.
- Dr. Tabata who studied training protocols to effectively train an Olympic skater found that 4 minutes of HIIT can increase both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity and boost your resting metabolic rate more than long and steady cardio workouts.
So, whether your goal is to lose fat, tone up your body, or simply just want to keep up with your fitness, a morning workout can provide you that and more.
This 6-minute morning workout challenge is a HIIT style workout that uses 4 best bodyweight exercises that target various parts of your body including your most stubborn body parts:
Butt, thighs, abs, and back of your arms (triceps).
6-Minute Morning Workout
* Scroll down past the image for the all the exercise details and how to perform them correctly.
Below are bodyweight exercises with instructions of each on how to perform each move with the proper form. Again completing one set takes about 6 minutes, and you're free to do 2 to 3 sets if you have extra time in the morning.
It's always recommended to spend 3-5 mines before and after the workout to properly warm-up and cool-down your body.
Check out the links below for warming-up and stretching before and after this workout challenge.
Complete all four moves in sequence with minimal rest in between. Perform 1-3 sets.
Exercise #1: Squats
Squat image credit: Womenshealthmag.com
Squats are incredibly effective!
They're often referred to as the king of all exercises, and that's for a good reason. Squats are a full-body fitness staple that works the hips, glutes, quads, and hamstrings and sneakily strengthens the core.
Squats may also help improve balance and coordination as well as bone density.
Plus, they’re totally functional.
When considering squat's primary target, the gluteus maximus (gluteus) being the largest muscle out of over 600 skeletal muscles in your body, it's no surprise that squats burn more calories than other exercises that target smaller muscles by expending the most amount of energy.
So, whether you're looking to strengthen the body, tone the legs, or shape your butt muscles, squat is the perfect exercise to work the entire lower body.
How to Do a Squat
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Contract your abs and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Pause, and return to the starting position. Continue for the prescribed number of repetitions.?
Exercise # 2: Push-Ups
Push-up is a classic bodyweight exercise that strengthens your body and tones the upper body. Push-ups are often considered an arm or shoulder workout, but in fact, it has a high level of core engagement.
Push-up is really a full body exercise. In fact, one study found that some variations of pushups use about 75 percent of your total bodyweight. (Learn more about this incredible finding in our list of best bodyweight exercises you can do at home to get in amazing shape.)
This indeed translates to pushups' effectiveness as a bodyweight workout.
It's really an incredible exercise that's often underestimated.
It engages the entire core just as planks do, but more intensely than a simple plank hold (because of the dynamic pushup motions).
How to Do a Push-up
- Get down on all your fours in a pushup position with your arms straight and your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
- Pause, and then push back up. Continue for the prescribe number of repetitions
Exercise #3: Plank
The plank exercise is incredibly effective at targeting and engaging your core.
And for that, it's always been one of my favorite core exercises to include in my abs workout routine. Though, its static nature makes it look like not much of an exercise, it's far more effective than many popular core workouts. Its simplicity definitely gets people underestimate the power of an isometric hold.
In fact, it does everything from sculpting abs to strengthening the lower back muscles.
While many other abs and core exercises involve dynamic movements, plank is done by simply holding the static plank position for 30-60 second.
By doing so, it has the benefit of reaching the deep stabilizing muscles in your core and strengthening them.
According to Dr. Jinger Gottschall, assistant professor of Kinesiology at Penn State University, the plank is a superior core exercise to the crunch or sit-up because it provides "more three-dimensional activation, from hip to shoulder, whereas the crunch is an isolated move that hits just your abs."
She came to this conclusion after researching the benefits of planks and comparing them with other popular and most widely performed exercises such as sit-ups and crunches.
She adds that planks not only strengthen the core, but also the shoulders and hips—and you can improve your balance if you do variations with your arm or leg.
How to Do a Plank
- Place your hands directly under the shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Squeeze your glutes & prop your body, so it forms a straight line from head to your toes.
- Hold the position for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Exercise #3: Bicycle Crunch
Although the basic crunch may not be as strong of an exercise as the plank, it's variant, the bicycle crunch is a different breed.
The bicycle crunch not only works the six-pack muscles (the outer layer abdominal muscles) but also the obliques, giving you a slimmer waistline.
For all your love handle problem, leave it to the bicycle crunch.
It can make it disappear by melting all the fat away from the sides of your stomach.
HIIT, short for high-intensity-interval training not only burns calories and fat during the workout but also continues to burn calories hours after your session (unlike a typical low to moderate 30 minute cardio workout.)
How to Do a Bicycle Crunch
- Lie flat on the floor with lower back on the ground. Put your hands behind your head, without locking your fingers together then bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blade off the ground.
- Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee.
- Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows. Now switch sides and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep.
- Continue alternating from side to side until completing the prescribed number of reps.
6-Minute Morning Workout [Video]
Overview of all the exercises included in this workout challenge.
There you have it! A quick morning workout routine you can do to start your day right.
We hope this morning routine makes it easier to make exercise a part of your morning regime.
Did you try the 6-minute morning workout?
Let us know how you like it. Did you find it easy or hard to workout in the morning? Leave a comment below to let me know.