The 50 Best 5-Minute Exercises Anyone Can Do
THESE ARE THE BEST EXERCISES TO GET YOUR ENDORPHINS FLOWING IN JUST FIVE MINUTES.
Adopting a new workout routine can be daunting. For one thing, it's hard to know where to begin, when there are so many different exercises out there to choose from. And on top of that, it's often difficult to find the time to fit your fitness into your day. But what if there were a few easy five-minute exercises you could do anytime, anywhere?
Best Life talked to top trainers from around the country to find out which exercises can be done in just five minutes and still improve your health. And best of all, these are moves anyone can do!
You can either stick to one exercise on this list and complete as many reps as you want in order to meet the five-minute mark, or you can stack your favorites to create a full workout. While some exercises are more challenging than others, you can always modify them to meet your fitness level. Read on for 50 five-minute exercises that can boost your health and fitness fast.
READ THIS NEXT: If You're Over 65, Don't Wear These 6 Clothing Items to Exercise.
Without fail, Amy Cardin, a Pilates instructor in Providence, Rhode Island, always starts her Pilates workouts with pelvic curls. "It's a great way to incorporate some glute and hamstring work into your routine," she says. "It's also an excellent way to warm up your body by activating your core and stretching your spine."
How to do it: Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor about hip-distance apart. Your arms should be by your sides. Firmly press your lower back into the mat and peel your hips off the mat toward the ceiling, creating a bridge with your body. To return down to the mat, peel your spine back down.
Quadruped Hip Extension
Anyone who sits a lot needs to add these exercises to their routine, stat. "Sitting too much makes for tight hips and often leads to back issues," Cardin says. "Working the hip extensors—the back of your legs where your glutes and hamstrings meet—helps lengthen tight hips and strengthen the back of your legs, which can eliminate unwanted stress on your back."
How to do it: Begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Bring your right foot up toward the ceiling, keeping your knee bent, then bring your knee back down to the mat. Repeat 10 times before switching to the opposite side.
Basic Back Extension
Another way to combat the effects of sitting all day is through back extension. "As a society, we spend a great deal of time typing on a computer and looking down, texting on our phones. Because of that, we've generally developed poor posture," Cardin says. "Working your upper back with some back extension is a great way to combat this and stand a little taller."
How to do it: Lie on your stomach with your forehead resting on the mat and your hands pressing into the side of your thighs. Widen your collar bone so your shoulders aren't resting on the ground and keep your belly button pulling up toward your spine. Lift your head, neck, and chest off the mat while sliding your hands down your legs toward your heels, then lower back down. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
One of the best exercises you can do for toned arms are trusty tricep dips. "While there's no magic exercise that will give someone the seemingly perfectly toned arm, I've found that working the triceps is a great way to feel strong," Cardin says. "Plus, you can do them virtually anywhere—no equipment needed."
How to do it: Stand with your back to a chair, couch, coffee table, or bench. Place your hands on the edge and your feet on the ground with your knees bent. Bend your elbows, dipping your hips toward the ground. Then, push back up to the top. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
For more health news sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Side Kick, Side Lunge
This exercise is the perfect mix of cardio and strength training. "Because of that, it helps you burn more calories and maximizes your workout," says Holly Roser, a personal trainer and sports nutritionist in San Francisco. "It's also fun to do and requires zero equipment."
How to do it: Start by standing with your knees slightly bent, then take your right leg and step laterally to the right, straightening your left leg as you go down into a side lunge. Come out of the side lunge and kick to the side with your right leg, imagining you're hitting something with your shin. Repeat on the opposite side.
If you're a beginner when it comes to push-ups, take the exercise to the wall. "Sometimes regular push-ups and knee push-ups are too challenging," Roser says. "For the novice strength trainer, wall push-ups are a huge win."
How to do it: Start off by placing your hands on the wall shoulder-width apart, and your feet hip-width apart on your toes. Bring your chest toward the wall as low as you can go while keeping your back perfectly flat. Straighten your arms out and repeat.
Couch push-ups are a good in-between if wall push-ups are too easy but floor push-ups are too hard, says Roser. Plus, you can do them right in your living room.
How to do it: Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the couch, and your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Bring your chest toward the couch as low as you can go with good form. Your back should be flat. Then, straighten your arms and raise your body.
According to Gerren Liles, an Equinox master trainer and Mirror instructor, people don't train multidirectional movement enough, so moving side-to-side is a necessary skill. "It can spike your heart rate, as well as train you to accelerate and decelerate," he says.
How to do it: Select a distance—at minimum the length of a yoga mat, and at most from one wall to the other. Crouch down a little with soft knees and braced abs as you side shuffle from one side to the other. When you reach each end, squat to tap the floor.
If you think normal planks are hard, wait until you put it in reverse. "Reverse planks fire up your entire posterior chain," Liles says. "It's also a really good chest opener and shoulder stretch."
How to do it: Sit and lean back to rest on your hands, which should be directly under your shoulders. From there, lift your hips up to where there's a straight line between your shoulders and your ankles. Tuck your pelvis in and squeeze your glutes to protect your lower back. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds.
According to Serena Scanzillo, founder of the SerenaFit Training Studio, plank rows target your upper body, back, core, and legs, allowing you to build up full-body strength in a single move.
How to do it: Choose a weight that fits your level. Start in a high plank and row the dumbbell up to your underarm, squeezing your lat and upper back. Maintain a strong plank position, keeping your shoulders and hips squared up to the floor. Repeat 30 seconds on each side.
V-Sit Open Fly
There are a handful of perks to doing the V-sit open fly exercise. Scanzillo says aside from strengthening your core, chest, and back, it also challenges your balance and helps keep your posture in check.
How to do it: Grab a medium weight. Take a seat and lift your legs in a bent-knee position. Grab your weights and bring them in front of your chest, as if you were hugging a tree with good posture. Avoid rounding your upper back. Then, open your arms. Continue alternating between movements for 45 seconds.
This exercise might sound silly, but just wait. Scanzillo says it's a fun yet challenging way to strengthen your back and core, and it will certainly leave you sore.
How to do it: Lie on your stomach in a Superman position with your arms and legs out, lifted off the floor. Try not to fold in on the spine. Without letting your arms and legs drop, roll yourself onto your back into a boat position, then roll onto your stomach and hold the Superman again. Repeat these rolls for one minute, keeping your head and neck neutral to avoid strain.
According to CJ Hammond, a NASM-certified trainer with RSP Nutrition, the dead bug exercise targets the deep inner core, not just the superficial abs you see. It's also easy on your lower back and helps improve stability in that area.
How to do it: Lie flat on your back in a table top position with your arms straight up in the air and legs in the air, bent at 90 degrees. Keep your lower back pressed into the floor. Simultaneously, lower your opposite arm and leg back and forth while stabilizing the other arm and leg. Complete 10 to 20 reps, then repeat on the opposite side.
Mini Band Glute Activation
This exercise doesn't just strengthen your glutes. Hammond says it's also a great way to activate them prior to other strength exercises, which is important for proper movement.
How to do it: Grab a medium resistance band and place it slightly above your knees. Place a light resistance band on the ankles. With your feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent, take 5 to 10 steps to the left or right while maintaining a wide base. Don't let your feet come together. Repeat on the other side.
One of the most effective exercises you can do if you're short on time or are exercising in a small space is air squats, says Douglas Smith, CEO and founder of True Nutrition.
How to do it: Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and toes slightly pointed out. Begin to squat down until your heels are going to come off the ground (or you feel like you're going to fall backwards). Then, push back up.
When you go for a walk during the day, Smith says you might as well add some lunges into the mix to get even more of a workout.
How to do it: Start your lunge with your hands on your hips and take a wide step directly forward with your forward foot a bit wider than your normal walking gait. Keep your knee over your ankle. Do 10 to 15 reps and repeat on the opposite side.
One of the best ways to up your arm strength is with knee push-ups. "This exercise works more than your upper body. It also strengthens your core, back, and rear leg muscles, if done properly," Smith says.
How to do it: Start on your knees. With your hands shoulder-width apart and pointed slightly out, lower your body, keeping your elbows closer to your torso. Then, push back up. Do 10 to 20 push-ups.
Once you've mastered knee push-ups, you can move up to the plank version. "Push-ups are single-handedly the best move you can master, especially at home, because they work every muscle in your body when done properly," says Jen Tallman, a fitness instructor in New York City. "It's mostly upper body and core strength."
How to do it: Get into a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, and your belly button pulled into your spine. Lower down, drawing your elbows in toward your back, and keep your head up for a neutral spine. Keeping that plank tight, squeeze your glutes as you drive through the ground with your hands, and push back up.
While there are many different squat variations, deep squats really bring on the burn. "Just make sure you have the mobility for them, and no hip pain," says R. Alexandra Duma, DC, DACBSP, a sports chiropractor for Team USA who practices out of FICS in New York City.
How to do it: Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Sit into a squat, but continue lowering your body until your butt is inches from the floor. Hold the position for a minute, then stand back up.
Squat to Reverse Lunge
Tallman loves this lower-body exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the core. "I like to do these with no rest from the squat position for an extra burn," she says.
How to do it: Squat down. Without standing up from the squat, step back with the right leg into a reverse lunge, then back to the squat. Step back with the left leg into a reverse lunge, then back to the squat.
Tangelo – Seattle Chiropractor + Rehab via YouTube
Aside from strengthening your shoulders, wall angels are also great for any back pain you may be experiencing. "Posture is directly correlated with low back pain, and this is an exercise that helps with posture and mid-back strengthening," Duma says.
How to do it: Place your back to the wall. Stand with your elbows at a 90-degree bend, with your elbows parallel to the ground. Begin to straighten your arms directly overhead, trying to keep your elbows sliding up against the wall and making sure your elbow, pinky finger, and thumb are in contact with the wall. Then, lower back down. (Check out this instructional video from Tangelo – Seattle Chiropractor + Rehab via YouTtube.)
Cook Glute Bridge
The cook bridge exercise is different from the typical bridge exercises you may be used to. "Developed by physical therapist Gray Cook, it eliminates lumbar spine movement, forcing the work to happen at the glutes," says Hammond.
How to do it: Get into a bridge position by lying flat on your back with your knees bent. Hug one knee to your chest. Holding this position, lift your hips in the air and complete 10 to 15 reps. Repeat on the other side.
One-Leg Glute Bridges
A great way to make glute bridges even more challenging is to do the one-legged version. According to Duma, this exercise engages your core, glutes, low back, and hips.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and palms down. Raise one leg so it's straight up in the air. Lift your hips, engaging your glutes and keeping your core tight. Hold for 10 seconds, then lower and repeat.
As you may have noticed, there are many bridge variations, but this marching version is one of the best. "Bridges are great for opening up the chest and firing up the glutes, but adding a marching element to them brings bridging to a whole new level," says Jenny Mendoza, a Rhode Island-based fitness coach for 99 Walks. "It will teach you how to stabilize your pelvis, which will help you build a stronger core."
How to do it: Begin on your back with your arms by your sides and your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your abs and glutes and bring your hips up off the ground, until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in one straight diagonal line. Pressing into the ground with both feet firmly, slowly bring one knee up until it's directly over the hip at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower. Then repeat on the other leg.
Burpee to Glute Bridge
If you hate burpees, this is the version to try. "This exercise adds an extra-fun element with the addition of a roll-back into a glute bridge," Tallman says.
How to do it: Jump up, then land down in a low squat with your feet outside of your hands. (You can also omit the jump.) Jump or walk your feet back into a plank, then lower down into a push-up. Jump or walk your feet back into a low squat, then roll onto your back. Walk your feet back toward your butt and drive your hips up into a glute bridge. Roll back up and try to stand without your hands and repeat.
Forearm Plank Knee Taps
In this exercise, Mendoza says you're working with gravity, your own bodyweight, and a moving component (in this case, your knees). "That combination really works the whole body," she says.
How to do it: Starting on your hands and knees, place your elbows directly under your shoulders, lacing your fingers together. Step both feet back until your legs are parallel to the ground. Squeeze your glutes to create a strong core. Gently tap your knees to the ground, then back up, keeping your hips as still as possible. Repeat.
Side Lying Leg Circles
While Mendoza says this exercise looks deceptively easy, you'll feel the burn all over your body—especially your core—by the time you're done.
How to do it: Lie on your side so the back of your body is in line with the back of your mat. Keep your feet slightly forward. You can support your head and neck on your outstretched arm. Align your hips so your top hip is in line with your bottom hip. Externally rotate your top leg, so your knee cap is trying to face the sky. Bring your top leg forward and parallel to the floor. Then circle it up toward the sky, then behind your body, and finally back to where you started.
Kai Simon via YouTube
Abbey Woodfin, a personal trainer and fitness instructor in New York City, says there are a couple of perks to doing speed skaters. Not only do you get in some serious cardio, but you'll also strengthen your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
How to do it: Start with your feet close together and your knees softly bent. Your right foot should be down and your left heel should be lifted. With a straight back, hinge slightly forward at the hips and push off your right foot to leap to the left side with your right leg crossing behind your left. Repeat on the opposite side. (Check out this instructional video from professional trainer Kai Simon via YouTube.)
Speed Skaters Drop
This variation on speed skaters provides even more of a burn. "It takes an already difficult exercise—speed skaters—and brings them up a notch by adding levels," says Woodfin. "It's the perfect exercise to get your heart rate up."
How to do it: After doing 30 seconds of regular speed skaters, add a level for the next 30 seconds by dropping your back knee down before springing to the other side. Think about doing curtsy lunges side-to-side, but hopping between sides. See if you can touch the ground with your arms as you're doing the exercise. (Check out this instructional video from Tone and Tighten via YouTube.)
Plié Squat with an Oblique Crunch
Aside from elongating, opening, and stretching your body, Woodfin says this exercise also works two notoriously hard-to-tone areas: your inner thighs and your obliques.
How to do it: Stand with your feet wider than your hips. Turn your heels in with your toes out, your chest lifted, and your shoulders squeezed together. Put your hands behind your head and open your elbows to the side. Lower your legs and butt down. As you stand, push more weight in your right leg, lifting your left knee up, and bring your left elbow down, crunching your left side. Repeat on the opposite side.
This isn't your typical plank variation. It adds in a downward dog reach and cross-body mountain climbers, making the move even more effective. "It works everything—your arms, glutes, thighs, and core," Woodfin says. "Because you're constantly moving, you don't realize how hard it is until you finish."
How to do it: Begin in a plank with your hands underneath your shoulders, fingers spread wide, and feet hip-distance apart. Push away from your hands, lifting your hips in the air. Reach your right hand toward your left foot, then return back to a plank. Repeat on the opposite side. Return to a plank and bring your right knee toward your left elbow, pulling it across your body. Repeat on the opposite side and return to a plank.
Deadlifts might seem like something only weightlifters do, but that's not the case at all. According to Meg Takacs, a New York City-based trainer and founder of the Run With Meg app, it's a fundamental full-body movement everyone can use to strengthen their muscles, prevent lower back injuries, and help with cardio.
How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a pair of dumbbells in front of you on the floor. Bend your knees and pick up the dumbbells. Stand back up, pushing your hips forward, and squeeze your glutes. Lower the dumbbells and repeat.
Want to get in a quick burst of cardio? Do some sprints. Takacs says doing them regularly doesn't just help burn fat—it also increases your lung capacity and helps you sleep better.
How to do it: As you sprint, keep your posture tall and your number of steps per minute high. Relax your shoulders, keep your elbows in, relax your hands, and breathe deeply through your mouth with a relaxed jaw.
Box jumps are hard, but you don't have to jump onto something tall. You can start lower to the floor. "The plyometric movement is great to mix in with anaerobic strength training to increase power and speed," Takacs says. "They also improve your glute and hamstring strength."
How to do it: Stand in front of a sturdy bench or stairs. Hinge your hips back, planting your heels into the ground. Your arms should be in a full extension behind you. As you jump, peel through your toes, extending your hips forward and snapping your knees up toward your chest. Land in a squat with flat feet, keeping your chest up. Stand up at the top of the box and step down.
Deep Well Athletics via YouTube
All you really need for this exercise is a sturdy backpack and some heavy items to pack it with. "Doing a swing with a backpack loaded with books, canned goods, or even clothes allows you to get a truly amazing, dynamic exercise," says Joey Thurman, CPT, FNS, a Chicago-based trainer.
How to do it: Grab your loaded backpack. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart, slightly turned out. Push your hips back as if a string was pulling them. Allow the backpack to come between your legs. Think about thrusting your hips forward to move the backpack without relying on your arms to do the work. When the backpack gets to about chest height, squeeze your glutes as the hips drive forward. Allow the backpack to come back down. Repeat. (Check out this instructional video from Deep Well Athletics via YouTube.)
Towel Reverse Lunges
StanStateAthletics via YouTube
When most people do reverse lunges, Thurman says they overcompensate with their back leg and don't properly load the front leg. "Adding a towel to your rear foot won't allow that compensation," he says.
How to do it: Grab a small towel and fold it into a square. Place the toes of one of your feet on it. Unlock your front knee as you perform a reverse lunge, simply by pushing that back leg lightly with the towel. Keep the pressure on your lead heal and drive up, pulling from that lead hamstring and driving the hips forward with your glutes. (Check out this instructional video from Stan State Athletics via YouTube.)
Kristy Lee Wilson via YouTube
A towel is another secret solution if you don't feel like you're getting as much as you could out of your push-ups. "Most push-ups lack the horizontal addiction needed to properly fire the pectoralis major," Thurman says. "Adding a towel on each hand takes care of this problem."
How to do it: Place a small towel under each hand and get in a push-up position. Slowly lower yourself as if you were going to do a regular push-up. As you drive up away from the floor, think about bringing your hands toward one another so they almost touch. Lower yourself back down and repeat. (Check out this instructional video from Kristy Lee Wilson via YouTube.)
Bulgarian Split Squats
Give your quads a great workout with some Bulgarian split squats. "The lower you sink into each lunge, the more glute activation you'll experience," says Brianna Bernard, a personal trainer and Isopure ambassador in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "You don't need a gym setup to do them. Just your bodyweight and a chair or a couch to rest your back foot on."
How to do it: From a standing position, rest the top of your right foot on a sturdy chair or couch behind you. Perform a lunge on your left leg without pushing off of your right foot for support. Descend into the lunge for a count of two to four seconds, and ascend back to your starting position for two to four seconds.
You might think of renegade rows as nothing more than a lat workout, but Bernard says the exercise is so much more than that. "They require extreme core stabilization and shoulder activation, and the push-up adds in a chest and tricep component, making them a complete upper body compound movement," she says.
How to do it: From a push-up position, place a dumbbell or water bottle on the floor below your chest. Widen your foot stance greater than shoulder-width for stabilization. With your right hand, pick up the weight and pull it toward your right hip, keeping your hips and shoulders parallel to the floor. Lower the weight back down to the ground and perform one push-up. Repeat on the opposite side.
Single Arm Dumbbell Snatches
If you're wanting to add more cardio into your strength workouts, Bernard says this is a great way to do so. "These explosive compound movements can be performed in an alternating pattern, or you can complete all your repetitions on one side of your body before moving onto the next," she says.
How to do it: Squat while holding a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing your shin and your arm straight. Ascend from the squat position with a slight jump, using the momentum of your hop to extend your right arm straight overhead, flipping your wrist up (with your palm facing away from your body) once the dumbbell reaches shoulder height. Flip your wrist down (with your palm facing your body again) and descend back into the squat.
Lying Cobra Slide and Angel
Anyone who spends a lot of time in front of their screen will greatly benefit from this exercise. "It's a quick posture fix," says Lauren Schramm, CPT, a personal trainer in Brooklyn. "These two movements will help mobilize your upper back and give you the sensation of growing a little taller."
How to do it: Lie facedown on the floor with your arms extended above your head, palms facing down. Press your palms lightly into the floor, bending your elbows and dragging your hands toward your body. Lift your chest to grow taller, only rising to what feels comfortable on your lower back. Once you lower yourself back down, return your arms to a fully extended position above your head. Lift them a few inches from the floor and make a snow angel on your ceiling, reaching the back of your palms up and circling down to your hips and back up above your head.
Bear Hold with Single-Leg Kickback
Ready for a serious core and glute exercise? This bear hold and single-leg kickback combo engages both. "While you're doing this exercise, you'll want to be very mindful of pulling your belly button up into your spine in order to protect your lower back," Schramm says.
How to do it: Start on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your toes tucked under. Lift your knees one inch from the floor and hold this position for the remainder of the movement. Kick your right leg straight back, then return to your start position. Then, while maintaining your knee bend, kick your heel up to the ceiling.
Reverse Lunge and Deadlift Balance
This exercise is nothing short of a challenge. According to Schramm, it requires you to keep your focus while you maintain your balance on one foot.
How to do it: Begin by balancing on your left foot with your right knee lifted in front of you. Take a step back into a reverse lunge with your right foot, then return back to your standing balance. Keeping a soft bend in the left knee, begin to kick your right heel up toward the ceiling behind you, allowing your torso to drop forward in front of you at the same time. Keep your hips square to the floor and your right heel pointed toward the ceiling with your toes pointing toward the floor, then raise back up.
Leyon Azubuike, a celebrity trainer in Santa Monica and founder of Gloveworx, always likes starting off workouts with cat-cow.
How to do it: Start in a tabletop position with your wrists directly beneath your shoulders. Your legs should be hip-width apart. Round your back toward the ceiling and hold. Then, arch your back as you drop your belly toward the floor and hold.
You can activate your core in bird dogs—one of Azubuike's go-to exercises that strengthens your abs while making you work on your balancing skills.
How to do it: Start in a tabletop position. Reach your right arm straight out in front of you while simultaneously lifting your left leg behind you. Bring your arm and leg back in, touching your right elbow to your left knee. Complete 10 reps on each side.
Quadrupled Bulldog Flow
This exercise doesn't just majorly strengthen every muscle—it also helps "reset the natural movement pattern of the human body," Azubuike says.
How to do it: In a tabletop position, lift your legs six inches off the floor. Take one step forward, one step back, one step to the right, then one step to the left. Then, do 10 shoulder taps, alternating between your left and right hands. Lastly, walk your hands forward into a plank position, then return your tabletop position.
You can channel your inner superhero with this exercise that will put every muscle in your body on blast. "You'll build joint strength and stability—not just in your arms and legs, but in your core and back as well," Jeremy Shore, a fitness trainer in Austin, Texas, told 3VFitness.
How to do it: Start in a push-up position. Bring your right knee to your right elbow as you extend your left hand out in front of you. Then, repeat on the left side. Alternate sides, crawling across the room. Then, turn around and crawl back.
Take your planks up a notch with this challenging variation. "You're not only going to get all the core benefits of doing a plank, but you're also going to be incorporating some oblique training, as well as your inner and outer thighs," Erin Anley, a personal trainer in Ontario, Canada, said in a YouTube video.
How to do it: Start in a plank position on your forearms. Keeping your form, bring your right leg out to your side and tap your foot to the floor. Then, bring it back to center and repeat on the opposite side.
Rolling Like a Ball Exercise
The Pilates "rolling like a ball" exercise is certainly challenging, but it's also a lot of fun. Aside from strengthening your body, it also provides a little relief. "It's a fantastic exercise for massaging your spine and getting vital circulation to the muscles that surround your spine," Alisa Wyatt, a Pilates instructor and founder of Pilatesology, said in a YouTube video.
How to do it: Sit on a mat with your legs bent. You can double your mat to add more cushion. Holding the back of your legs with your hands right above the back of your knees, rock back onto the mat and round your back coming back up. Your body should remain controlled the entire time. Once you've mastered this version, you can try it in a tighter ball by bringing your knees to your chest and holding your ankles.
It's the most tried-and-true exercise there is. And yes, even five minutes makes a difference. You don't need to go on a long walk in order to reap the benefits. Taking a quick five-minute walk after dinner or during the day is a great way to squeeze in a quick sweat session, according to Smith.
How to do it: To make sure you're getting a workout in, aim for a faster walking pace. Don't look toward the ground—keep your head up. Add in hills or stairs for an extra challenge.