Fitness

The 20-minute at-home workout to add to your morning routine

Turn your bedroom into a home gym with these easy-to-follow exercises.

Woman working out with exercise bands in her bedroom

Lose weight and tone up with these full-body exercises (Photo Stockbyte).

Everyone’s always looking for efficiency when it comes to working out. In the past, I’ve focused on how to make your gym workout more efficient. Now, I have some advice for an at-home, super-effective workout routine.

The goal is to form a habit when it comes to fitness. If you do this 20-minute, minimal-equipment workout three times a week, it will become as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth or showering.

Since this is a body-weight bearing workout, it will make your bones stronger, improve blood pressure, reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and help prevent injuries.

And while this workout isn’t going to burn hundreds of calories, coupled with a healthy diet, you can certainly use it to look your best. It may even inspire you to take on more ambitious physical feats.

I recommend doing this first thing in the morning, because that’s when motivation is at its highest, but any time of day will do. Work out at the time that works best for you.

Equipment needed
1. Exercise bands
2. Exercise ball
3. Towel
4. Chair

The workout
You only have 20 minutes, so the goal is to work towards this being non-stop and intense. This program gets harder with each round, so don’t worry if you can’t do the whole thing at first. Building up to this is a great goal.

Round one: Warm up 
10 knee push-ups
Start with your knees on the floor and your body straight. Lower until your chest nearly touches the floor, then push yourself back up.

10 chair squats
Stand in front of a chair, sit down, then rise. Don’t use your arms and keep a slight inward curve in your low back. Make sure to take the tension through your buttocks and legs.

10 seated rows (with low tension band)
Sit straight-legged on the floor and place the middle of the band across the bottom of your feet. Grab the handles, pull and release in a smooth, rowing motion.

10 calf raise on stairs (both legs)
While holding a handrail for balance, place your feet half on and half off the stairs. Drop until you feel a moderate stretch in your calf muscle, then raise your body back up.

Round two
10 regular push-ups
Start in plank position. Lower until your chest nearly touches the floor, then push yourself back up.

10 wall squats (with exercise ball)
Place the ball against the wall and lean against it, with the ball against your low back. Using the ball to brace yourself, squat down so it rolls up your back, then rise back up.

10 towel rows
Find a sturdy post or railing and wrap a towel around it. Taking a firm grip on both ends, plant your feet near the post and lean backwards. Use the towel to pull yourself forward in a rowing motion.

10 split squats (with right leg, then left leg forward)
Take one step forward and squat down, then up. Ensure your torso stays vertical.

10 upper body Russian twists (with exercise ball)
Lie with your back across the ball, and raise your arms towards the ceiling so that the palms of your hands press together. Keeping arms locked, move your hands side to side so that your upper body twists across the ball.

10 calf raises (each leg)
Same as in round 1, except one leg at a time.

Round three
10 exercise ball push-ups
Do a traditional push-up, but with your hands placed on an exercise ball.

10 single leg squats
Lift one leg off the ground and stick it out in front of you, then squat straight down, keeping your torso vertical, then back up.

10 seated rows (with a high-tension band)
Sit straight-legged on the floor and place the middle of the band across the bottom of your feet. Grab the handles, pull and release in a smooth, rowing motion.

10 lower body Russian twists
Lie flat on your back with your arms stretched out to the side and put your legs perpendicular to the ground. Keeping legs straight, move them from side to side.

10 split squats (right leg forward with rear leg elevated, then reverse)
This is the same as the split squat in round two, except the rear leg is elevated on a bench, chair or stool.

10 calf raises (single leg)
Same as in round 1, except one leg at a time.

10 exercise-band bicep curls
Place your feet over the middle of the exercise band, keep your upper arms firm at the sides of your body and curl upwards using your biceps.

10 exercise bands lateral raises
Place your feet over top the middle of the exercise band, and while keeping your arms straight raise them both laterally out to the side so your torso forms a T shape.

*For guidance with any of these exercises please click here.

Try this three or four times a week, always taking a day off between sessions. It will change your body and make exercise a regular habit—without interfering with your busy day.

James S. Fell, MBA, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. His syndicated column “In-Your-Face Fitness” for the Chicago Tribune runs in dozens of major newspapers across the U.S., and he also interviews well-known celebrities about their fitness regimens for the Los Angeles Times. Fell is also the senior fitness columnist for AskMen.com and TIME magazine. Based in Calgary, he is an avid runner, cyclist and weightlifter, and wishes he had more opportunities to go downhill skiing with his wife and two children. His new book, Lose It Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, is available now. Visit his site for a free metabolism report.