Your Excuse-Proof Workout Plan


By: , – Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
  :  56 comments   :  273,019 Views

Hey, we're all busy. But that’s no reason to let your workouts get away from you. Next time you feel like skimping on exercise to watch TV or meet your friends for Happy Hour remember this: It doesn't take much to get a great workout.
That's why I designed this excuse-proof workout. You can do this simple, 6-minute circuit anytime (it's whisper quiet), anywhere (no gym required) and without any equipment.  All that and it'll sculpt your body from head to toe, too.
Try this routine anytime you have a few minutes to spare: first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, during homework time, while waiting for that pot of water to boil or all of the above!
For a longer workout, simply repeat the circuit 3-5 times through, based on the time you have available.
Don't forget to "pin" this to save it for later! For detailed instructions of every exercise, scroll below the graphic.

Exercise #1: Squat Chop
Stand with feet slightly wider than hips, hands clasped together overhead, shoulders relaxed. Bend your knees, pushing your hips behind you as you "chop" your arms straight down between the knees. Squeeze the glutes and straighten the legs to return to the start position to complete one rep. Repeat as many times as possible in 1 minute.
Exercise #2: Charlie’s Angel Lunge
Begin a split stance with right leg forward, feet hip-width distance apart, toes pointed forward, arm extended in front of chest with hands clasped and index fingers extended. Bend both knees about 90 degrees to lower into a lunge. Keep hips steady and hold lunge as you rotate your torso toward the right, then twist back to center. Repeat rotation, holding lunge position, as many times as possible for 30 seconds. Switch sides (left leg forward, twist to left).  
Want to make it harder? Straighten your legs each time you twist back to center, and bend knees each time you twist to the side.
Exercise #3: Kneeling Crunch
Start on all fours (knees under the hips and wrists under the shoulders) with a flat back and the abs engaged. Extend your left leg behind your hip and right arm in front of shoulder, thumb facing up. Engage abs in tight as you pull your left knee toward your right elbow (try to tap your elbow on your knee), allowing your back to round slightly. Extend arm and leg back out to complete one rep. Do as many as possible for 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Need to make it easier? Take out the arm movement and just use your leg, focusing on activating your abs to pull your knee in towards your chest.
Exercise #4: Push Up Plank
Start in a modified push up position on your hands and knees and your arms straight (keep toes curled under). Do one push-up (bend and straighten elbows), then brace abs in tight and straighten both legs into a high plank position. Hold for one count to complete a single rep. Lower back down to knees to repeat as many reps as possible in 60 seconds, resting in between movements as often as needed.
Want to make it harder? Reverse the movement: Do a full push-up on your toes and then gently bend your knees to tap the floor on your plank to complete a single rep.
Exercise #5: Rise 'n Raise
Lie facedown on a mat with your legs hip width, toes pointed and arms extended out to the sides of shoulders, thumbs facing up. Keeping your chin tucked toward your chest, eyes gazing to the floor. Slowly lift your chest off the floor while squeezing your shoulder blades together (imagine you are trying to grip a pencil between them) and reaching arms higher to complete one rep. Repeat as many times as you can for 60 seconds.
Want to make it harder? Lift your legs off of the floor as you lift the chest.  
Exercise #6: Triceps Press
Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat, legs together, and palms on the floor beneath the shoulders, fingertips pointed forward. Keep back straight and abs engaged as you slowly bend the elbows to lower your forearm/elbows closer to the floor. Push back up by straightening the elbows to complete one rep. Repeat as many times as you can for 60 seconds, resting as often as needed.
Need to make it easier? Don’t lower your elbows all the way to the floor before pressing up.
Will you make The Excuse-Proof Workout part of your fitness plan? What is your favorite way to squeeze exercise into a busy day?

About the Author
As someone who struggled to lose weight for years, Jessica found that the key to her own 40-pound weight loss was making small, healthy lifestyle changes that led to big, lasting results. Now, as a certified wellcoach, fitness instructor and personal trainer, she has spent the last 15 years helping students and clients reach their goals in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, and now reaches millions online through her YouTube Channel and home exercise DVD series. Please visit to learn more about her fun, results driven programs for all levels of exercisers.

All photos by Vanessa Rogers Photography.

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  • 56
    Thanks, I'll give it a try. - 10/25/2017   12:18:36 PM
    Great article! - 10/17/2017   5:23:26 AM
  • 54
    Jessica is da bomb. - 10/15/2017   12:31:27 PM
    Great quick workout! - 8/19/2017   11:45:43 AM
  • 52
    These are great exercises - 8/17/2017   12:39:59 AM
  • 51
    Love the non video exercises. It's good to have them easily accessible. - 7/21/2017   12:29:16 AM
  • 50
    Love these quick little workouts in addition to my regular workout. - 5/15/2017   6:34:41 AM
  • 49
    I can do these! - 4/23/2017   8:00:16 AM
  • 48
    tried a couple moves and felt it~ Great! - 12/10/2016   4:06:42 PM
    I like doing circuit training and this is a great one to fit in between longer workouts. I like to challenge myself to see how many I can do in one minute. I keep a log to see how I'm progressing. It also loosens up my body for more strenuos exercise. - 10/30/2016   3:32:08 PM
  • 46
    How much is the calorie burn for this? - 9/28/2016   7:26:28 PM
  • 45
    i would love to see some exercises that people with jacked up knees can do. Lunges are a virtual impossibility for me. Also, i can't get on the floor at my work, so i need some exercises that dont have you on the ground. - 12/22/2015   3:33:51 PM
    Like these exercises leaves me a little tired but worth it. - 12/10/2015   11:29:34 AM
  • BUB001
    Kneeling crunch beat me, have bad knees. Everything else went fine. - 11/8/2015   10:01:34 PM
  • 42
    I pin it so I can save it - 10/9/2015   5:09:53 PM
  • 41
    I don't see a link to save as Favorite, but I bookmarked the page in my Exercise folder of links. This is just the ticket when traveling or staying with family. I plan to do one or two circuits on rest days. I think I'll try doing this when I'm babysitting the grandkids--they might like to join in. I think they will like the Charlie's Angle lunges. - 9/20/2015   10:40:58 AM
    I love working out with Jessica Smith on YouTube, and now I find her here! I'll be doing some of these workouts. - 9/10/2013   10:22:58 AM
    The charlies angel lunge was fun lol! - 8/30/2013   8:27:20 PM
  • 38
    Number of hands, who thinks the Charlie's Angels Lunge looks like fun? (yeah, I never grew out of the "bang, bang, I got you!" phase.) - 8/30/2013   6:10:05 PM
  • 37
    How do I track this? How many calories does it burn? - 8/30/2013   3:54:39 PM
  • 36
    I wish there was a way to print these so that the visuals didn't carry over to more then one page. by the time I paste and copy and then shrink up the picture it takes forever. but I for sure will be trying these!!! thanks!
    - 8/30/2013   2:11:23 PM
  • 35
    I enjoy Jessica's workout - just picked up her walking dvd. She has more workouts on youtube ... check out her youtube channel - 8/30/2013   9:02:04 AM
  • 34
    I love this workout! However, I wish there was an easy way to add this to my tracker - 8/30/2013   8:19:11 AM
  • 33
    Looks nice and I'll give it a try but it's definitely not "excuse-proof". You need a mat (or a clean floor) for most of these! No way I could do it at work or during lunch hour!
    Also, I'd recommend Coach Nicole's 6 min Hips, glute and thighs video, it's great and doesn't actually require a mat. - 8/30/2013   6:05:51 AM
    I think I will try it, I will print it out and keep a copy in my kitchen. - 8/30/2013   5:12:57 AM
  • 31
    Wish that there was an easy modification for all the exercises. I can barely do a bent-knee push-up, let alone the regular. - 6/4/2013   1:08:58 PM
    I probably will reserve this for a quick "at-home" workout, I think I would get some odd looks (not to mention what I might pick up on my clothing) if I tried this on the breakroom floor at work . . . - 6/3/2013   5:58:58 PM
    Love this blog - 6/3/2013   3:58:00 PM
  • 28
    These sound great, thanks. I love the 10 minute videos also, but sometimes I don't have the time or motivation to turn it on to even start them. It's great to have a few quickies that I can do while waiting for something. 0 prep necessary if you memorize a few moves. - 6/3/2013   3:51:54 PM
    Great! Saved this one for those "running out of time" days. Thanks! - 6/3/2013   1:45:17 PM
  • 26
    So excited to try these exercises! Jessica Smith is one of my favorite trainers~she has a YouTube channel with free workouts and also some really good workout DVD's. She is tough, but motivates you to do your best. - 6/3/2013   8:46:27 AM
    I'm going to do this while watching a tv program instead of sitting on the couch through the commercials! - 6/3/2013   8:10:42 AM
  • 24
    Appyspot, click on the Save button located on the left side of the screen. That should save the story in your Sparkpeople favorites. - 6/3/2013   6:58:46 AM
    I want to save this on my sparkpage but do not know how... - 6/3/2013   6:27:19 AM
  • 22
    love it and I can do most of them - 4/8/2013   12:56:33 AM
  • 21
    Great can do very daily !! - 1/1/2013   10:38:42 PM
  • 20
    These are great--I can close my office door and work in some exercise throughout the day. I'm with Psychoticfrog--I don't want to exercise on the floor, so I keep a yoga mat in my office. - 12/17/2012   3:00:50 PM
  • 19
    I love when I see the same exercise here that I am doing at the YMCA in class with a trainer! We do these same moves in Plyo and boot camp class! I do them at home as well and they so work!!!! - 12/12/2012   9:18:07 AM
  • 18
    Now. - 12/11/2012   4:56:04 PM
  • 17
    ROM is usually "range of motion"--maybe she means decide if you're going to do the advanced version or the regular version.

    I think most of the floor exercises here can be modified to be done by placing your hands on the edge of a chair if you can't or don't want to keep a towel or folded yoga mat around to put your hands and knees on. I know there's at least one seated-exercise routine floating around the site, too. - 12/11/2012   9:59:19 AM
  • 16
    What does "choose your ROM" mean? - 12/11/2012   8:57:17 AM
  • 15
    I'm going to try this. Love 10 minute routines that get me going in the morning. - 12/11/2012   7:44:10 AM
  • JENMC14
    How would you track this in the tracker? Circuit training? Low Impact? Strength? - 12/10/2012   4:09:22 PM
  • 13
    How about something for those of us who can't squat, kneel or lunge!!! - 12/10/2012   3:50:19 PM
  • 12
    Awesome!! I'm definitely gonna incorporate this with my morning routine. - 12/10/2012   2:59:29 PM
    I like the short 10 minute workout just need to find time to do at least 3 a day... - 12/10/2012   11:35:46 AM
    This is great. Everything but floor work can be done anywhere & when traveling. Thank you.
    - 12/10/2012   11:26:20 AM
  • 9
    Count me in with PsychoticFrog and Determined.
    I love love love the 10 minute workout....but I just can't do 'the floor' at work.
    I need a intense 10 minute set to do at least 3 times a day. - 12/10/2012   11:17:07 AM
  • 8
    I am definitely going to try this! - 12/10/2012   10:21:34 AM
  • 7
    I'm going to try this! - 12/10/2012   10:06:35 AM

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