Between work commitments, social plans, and little time to kick back and relax, carving out time in your schedule for fitness is sometimes the last thing on your mind. (And let’s not even talk about how much of a time-consuming process getting changed and actually heading out to the gym can be!) Having just the right, easy-to-follow routine on deck can truly make all the difference in the world—especially when you’re always on the go. We’re here to help with that and chatted with Gretchen Thomas, coach for Row House in Southern Maryland, who breaks down five exercises women should do every day to stay fit.
“Women often sacrifice their own needs for the sake of everyone else’s around them,” Thomas says. “One of the things we need to do is to take care of ourselves in order to continue to support those around us. Time is often an issue, and staying fit doesn’t mean spending excessive hours exercising. We don’t need to be exercising more we need to be moving better!”
Keep reading for the five best exercises women should do every day to stay in stellar shape. All of these moves are safe and productive, and they can seamlessly be worked into a hectic schedule. You can do the below exercises as a new workout if you’re just starting out, or you can add them to your current routine.
1. Dead Bugs
“Dead bugs are a great contralateral exercise that focuses on your core stability and control. I like starting with dead bugs since it helps establish and build foundational core muscle strength, it gets the core connected with the rest of the body, and it can be mentally stimulating teaching [your] body coordination,” Thomas explains. This move revolves around proper technique and not rushing through the exercise. Perform three sets of 10 reps.
To set up, lie down on your back. Your arms should be extended straight with your fingertips pointed toward the sky, and your legs should assume a tabletop position with both knees bent. Activate your core. Then, lower your right arm behind your head, and simultaneously extend your left leg. Your lower back should remain in contact with the floor. Bring your arm and leg back up to the starting position before repeating on the opposite side.
2. Glute Bridges
“Glute bridges are a great exercise that targets your major muscle groups in your posterior chain or back of your body, this exercise not only strengthens your muscles but also can help reduce lower back pain,” Thomas tells us. Complete three sets of 10 reps.
To set up for this exercise, lie down flat on your back, and plant your feet hip-width distance apart. Activate your core, press into both feet, and push your hips upward into a “bridge,” making sure they stay level. Gradually bring your hips down to the starting position.
3. Quadruped Planks
Planks may get a bad rap, but this exercise works wonders for your entire body. “A great variation of the plank is the quadruped plank,” Thomas points out. “Often this is a great way to teach the body full-body muscle activation without having to be in full extension for those who feel lower back pain when performing a regular plank.” Complete three sets of 20- to 30-second holds.
To set up, plant both hands on the ground below your shoulders, and line your knees up with your hips. Activate your core as you raise both knees just about an inch above the ground. Maintain level hips, and keep a neutral spine and neck. Push both hands into the ground as you remain lifted in this position. Don’t forget to breathe!
“Superman is another exercise that targets the posterior chain,” Thomas says. “This is a great exercise for building back strength and can improve your spinal stability. I like to use this exercise as a precursor to lifting heavier loads in a squat or loaded back exercise since it helps teach your body to recruit the back stabilizers which are required for heavy lifts.” Complete three sets of 10 reps.
To set up, lie down on your stomach, fully extending your arms and legs. Maintain a neutral neck, and raise your legs and chest, contracting the muscles in your back as your arms and legs remain long. “It is important you are lifting through your chest and not your head and neck,” Thomas explains. Then, gradually descend to the position you started in.
5. Bird Dogs
Last but not least on our list of exercises women should do every day to stay fit is the bird dog. This is a stellar stability and core move that works both your front and back. “This exercise is great for building lower-back function and getting your core and back muscles to connect and fire together. I love this exercise because of the way you feel the body connecting from your core, through the back to the glutes,” Thomas explains. Perform three sets of 10 reps for each side.
To set up, position both hands on the ground below your shoulders. Your knees should be aligned with your hips, and your toes should be on the ground. Extend your right arm forward and your left leg behind you while maintaining a neutral neck and back. Activate your core as you remain in this position for a moment. Then, repeat on the opposite side.
“The key is control and technique and not speed! Find control of the movement with your body through each of these exercises, and pay close attention to keeping your core engaged,” Thomas says. “We do many variations of these exercises in our Row House classes, not only are these exercises beneficial for women, these exercises don’t require any equipment and are suitable for all levels!”