Doable and Time-Efficient Workouts from Home

I’ve been a high school track & field state champion, collegiate distance runner, and [currently] exceptionally lazy mom—how’s that for qualified to write this post? Basically I’ve run the entire spectrum of dedication when it comes to working out. I know, we’re already tired of talking about exercise by January 15, but I thought I’d throw out some tried, true, DOABLE workouts you can do from home. Bonus: these ARE NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR YOUR FREE TIME. I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it again—freedom (or at least the illusion of it) is what keeps me going and I’ll do anything to preserve lazy time for myself. A few important concepts first:


The one in front with the killer bod I’ll never get back.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that variety, even more than the length of your workouts, is the greatest factor in continuing to see results, whatever your goals. For example, I can jog two hours every day, but I will avoid plateauing and ultimately get better results if I run a variety of speeds and distances throughout the week. In short, keep your muscles guessing. This is why most of the workouts I suggest below are not time-consuming.


I’ve found that accountability goes a lot further than lofty goals when it comes to consistent exercise. The best post-college workout years of my life were the four I spent meeting up with my impressively dedicated friend Heather at 5:45 am three mornings each week to run. Below-freezing winters, suffocatingly humid southern summers—I consistently hated her at 5:00 am and sang her praises by 7:30 am. Having a friend at the other end simply makes it much harder to make excuses and hit snooze. Of course it’s much more fun to be miserable with friends. And let’s be honest—if money is no object, a personal trainer is even better. Report to someone.

Heather and me at the Monument Avenue 10K finish in Richmond, VA. (Both pregnant with our second!)


If you have the choice, decide what time of day you prefer to exercise. I’ve done workouts every time of day—some by choice, many decreed by coaches—and I personally get the best high from early morning workouts. It’s a good idea to know even small things that will help you stay motivated. What I like most about workouts before 9 am is that I don’t feel like I’ve used up my free time the way I do when I exercise at the end of the day; it’s not like I would’ve watched a movie or gone out with friends at 7 am if I hadn’t worked out. But all that said, your schedule is probably pretty tight and like me, you’ll be happy to fit any exercise in at any point in the day! Whether you can afford to be picky or not, here are my favorite workouts for all you other lazy-busy people out there:


  • Ab Ripper X video. I purchased the whole P90X set years ago, but I’ve only repeatedly returned to a handful of Tony Horton’s workouts. I will say with confidence that the Ab Ripper X workout is gold and you should get your hands on it however you can. I had fabulous abs during my track years and none of those abs workouts came close to as challenging as this one. No matter how frequently I do it, it still pushes me. The best part is it’s a very quick (and very dirty) 15 minutes!
  • 100 push-ups a day. Or 200 or whatever. The key to this one is to do 25 at a time and change up the type of push-up as you get stronger. My husband is the genius behind this tip. If your arms are as pathetic as mine, this is a decent arms day and great for days that I don’t even have time to change into workout clothes. We’ve done push-ups many times in front of Netflix and you can too.
  • Sworkit app. There are many lovely exercise apps out there, but this one gets a notable mention because it allows you to personalize the type, difficulty level, and length of your workout to suit your needs…all without a single piece of equipment! You just need shoes and your phone. Little videos show you how to do each move. And if you’re thinking this sounds too easy, I have been shocked at how much I struggle to finish some of the 20-minute workouts!
  • Lee introduced me to this one and I could go on for a page about how fabulous this resource is. In summary, mostly free yoga class videos searchable by difficulty, length, style, and/or teacher. Also poses, meditations, breathing, tutorials, programs, 30-day challenge…just check it out, seriously.



  • P90X yoga video. This is the other Tony Horton I keep coming back to. I looove how I feel after a good yoga workout, but a too-easy-waste-of-my-time yoga workout just makes me angry. I’ve tried many styles and instructors from home and outside of a yoga studio (I’m no yogi, but I find vinyasa and bikram worth my time), this hour of yoga is the most tiring I’ve done.
  • Spin bike or treadmill. This isn’t terribly original, but for the sake of comprehensiveness I have to mention the bread and butter of a lazy-busy athlete’s routine. If you’re a habit-stacker like me, or plain old desperately want to ignore that you’re exercising at all, spinning/running to a movie/audiobook is as good as it gets. We’ve also found it cost-effective as we’ve purchased our equipment used.
  • Running (or walking) out your door. This isn’t technically at home, but starts and ends there and requires minimal equipment and planning. And it’s my sport of choice, so I’m compelled to include it. As far as I’m concerned, everyone should leave the house sometimes and exploring your town/city/mountain/coast on foot is a unique, invigorating experience. I prefer to go alone when my husband is home with our three children, but if that’s too much for you to ask, you might be interested in my latest workout routine of running to school.


  • Gyms or studios with childcare. This isn’t at home either, but for parents who need that instructor and class time to motivate them and/or need the social interaction, gyms with childcare must be mentioned. There are often many more perks in addition to childcare included in a gym membership. Money well spent.

Happy new year and happy healthier you!