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The 15 Best Living Room Exercises

Keep the sofa intact and the lamp from shattering with these space-efficient, furniture-friendly moves.

Say you’re a busy dad. With a full-time job. And a less than optimal commute. With a small kid, maybe two, to bond with once you get home. Gym? You jest. Seriously, that’s a good one. You need an easy workout, and a go-to list of quick workouts that you can do at home, on the fly. That’s your life now.

Not a problem. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you (Editor’s Note: we regret the pun), with these 15 strength and cardio moves that can be performed in your living room, in less than 30 minutes. They’re easy, quick, down-and-dirty moves that tone your weak spots, get your blood flowing and heart pumping, and allow you to supervise (at least in theory) your pack of young wolves nearby while you’re at it. And they hit the 30-minute per day sweet spot, which the latest research by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests is just what your body needs to reap major health benefits.

15 Easy Workouts That You Can Do From Home

  1.   Sit Ups. Basic, but effective. Aim for 20 to start, and work your way up to 50 once you’re a pro. Do not tuck your feet under a chair or table for assistance, to get the maximum effect.
  2.   Crunches. These bite-size versions of the whole enchilada isolate smaller, deeper abdominal muscles in their motion. Shoot for three sets of 20.
  3.   Bicycles. Lie on your back feet in the air, knees bent. Place your hands behind your head. Begin pumping your legs in the classic bicycle motion, vigorously, for one minute.
  4.   Jumping Jacks. Time to get your heart rate up. Making sure to raise your hands over your head each time, and keep the cardio going for at least one minute.
  5.   Lunges. This is the best quad toner in town. Start standing with your feet parallel. Take a big step forward with your right leg, landing with your knee bent and over your toes. Allow your back knee to drop down toward the floor while swinging your left arm forward for balance. Push off your right front foot to return to standing. Do two sets of 10 on each side.
  6.   Squats. Back straight, feet slightly turned out. Drop your seat to knee height. Do two sets of 10. Advanced/Dad version: do these with your kid on your back.
  7.   Squat Jumps. Bend your knees as if you are going into the squat position, tucking your arms like a downhill skier. Spring off the floor and straighten your legs in the air, before landing in a squat once again. Advanced version: When you push off the floor into a jump, add a half-twist so you land facing the opposite direction. Do two sets of 10.
  8.   Push Ups. Drop and give us 20. Let your child sit on your butt for extra weight resistance.
  9.   Bridges. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet close to your butt. Push through your heels as you raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Repeat 10 times.
  10.   Planks. Hands down the best overall bodyweight toning move you can do. Rest on your elbows and toes, keeping your back and legs straight. Hold for one minute.
  11.   High Knees. Jog in place for one minute, lifting each knee as high as you can.
  12.   Bavarian Split Squats. It sounds hardcore, but it’s just a regular squat with one leg resting on a chair seat or low table behind you. Focus on keeping your weight over your forward leg, and don’t let your knee bend further than your toes. Two sets of 10 on each side.
  13.   Dips. Sit in a sturdy chair, hands holding the front edge of the seat. Push your butt forward until it is it suspended in front of the seat and your weight is being supported by your arms. Bend elbows and drop your hips toward the floor. Straighten. Do two sets of 10 dips.
  14.   Dead Lifts. A modified version of the gym classic, you’ll need a heavy, low-to-the-ground object for this, such as two gallon-size jugs of water, dumbbells, or a duffel bag filled with shoes. Start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, back straight, knees slightly bent. Keeping your back straight, reach down and grab hold of the weighted object on the floor in front of you. Return to vertical position. Lower down; raise back up. Do 20 times.
  15.   Calf Raises. Face a wall and place your palms against it for balance and support. Rise up onto your toes and back down. Repeat 20 times. Advanced version: Let your kid ride piggyback for extra resistance.