30 Most Effective 30-Second Workout Moves
Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and super busy, the first thing that always falls off my schedule is hitting the gym—even though I know making the extra time to sweat it out will make me feel better and more centered. But I’ve realized that you can always find a way to prioritize the things that matter, even if you have to get creative with the way you fit them in.
So, for me, squatting while commuting or planking (one of the 7 Best Ab Exercises for Women!) before bed has become quick and foolproof ways to make sure I get some part of my workout in without having to stress about making time for the gym. Instead, I bring the working out with me even on the go. Everyone has at least 30 spare seconds (trust me, even the days you’re sure you don’t—you do). That’s why I went to the experts and compiled a master list of exercises that work every body part. Best of all? Each one brings results if you do them for 30 seconds every day (some ask for 60 seconds, but that’s so you can work both arms and both legs). Just remember to keep your diet on track, too; just because you squeeze in mini workouts doesn’t mean you can feast on foods like these 20 Shocking Foods With More Fat Than a Big Mac!
Now let’s get to it! Do one, do five, do them all; you control which body part you work out, whenever you want, wherever you want—and results are guaranteed!
The beauty of squats is you can do them anywhere—in line at the grocery store or while brushing your teeth—so there’s never an excuse to find those extra 30 seconds. Tone It Up founders Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott say the booty shapin’, leg sculptin’ move is their go-to exercise. “Squats are great for toning your thighs and booty and you can do them without any equipment,” they explain. “Just make sure that your feet are hip-width apart and knees don’t go passed your toes throughout the move. This will help prevent injury.” Bonus: Squats are a great way to combat that desk job that’s flattening your butt. Discover 35 Tips for Every Type of Job for more advice!
Dewayne Riggins, celebrity trainer and Founder and CEO of Inspirational Fitness, says you can work your quads and glutes with reverse lunges—30 seconds on each leg. How to do them: Stand in an upright position and then step back with one leg; bend knees as low as you can. Drop your back knee to one inch off the ground or as low as you can and be sure front knee is not leaning over the foot. Repeat with the other leg.
To tone your gluteus medius—the upper side of buttocks—Riggins says to do the Hydrant. Here’s how: Get down on all fours (knees and hands); lift your leg with a leg bend and your heel facing back to the butt. Do very small pulses with leg for 30 seconds on each side.
High and Low Planks
Planks are a quadruple threat, and by holding one for just 30 seconds a day, you will instantly start seeing results on your abdominal muscles, arms, triceps, and core. Riggins suggests doing low and high planks for 30 seconds each. For the low plank, he says to “get up on your elbows and your feet like a push-up position. You can modify by getting on your knees and hold for 30 seconds.” For the high plank do the same but “hold your legs straight” for 30 seconds. If abs are your problem area, don’t miss our helpful article Can’t Get Cut Abs? A Celeb Trainer Explains Why!
To start toning your abs by hitting up the lower abdominal muscles, Riggins suggests 30 seconds of leg raises. Here’s how: Turn on your back with legs straight and your feet and ankles together. Raise your legs up and down in a vertical position from your body, while keeping your belly button. Slowly bring legs back down, but if that is too difficult, tuck your knees. (And be careful not to strain your lower back!)
Hand and Arm Raises
Get your shoulders looking svelte with hand/arm raises. Riggins says here’s how to do them: Raise your hand over head; hand is at a 90-degree angle to the body as if you’re doing shoulder press with no weights. Put your hands up and raise over head; raise up to sky and bring back down. Keep repeating for 30 seconds. We know it sounds too easy, but you’ll feel it start to burn about 20 seconds in!
To get more bang for your buck, Riggins says you can work out your arms and shoulders by doing arm rotations. You take both arms, stretch out to the side of the body, and rotate forward in very small circles and then reverse for 30 seconds.
Get your heart rate pumping and blast away fat with just 30 seconds of cardio a day. Riggins says to run in place and be sure to pump your arms while doing so. You can sneak in more cardio with these 8 Moves That Count as Cardio, too!
Lauren Duhamel, a trainer for modelFIT says doing 30 seconds of sumo squats will transform the glutes and inner thighs. “Take a wide stance with your feet turned out instead of facing straight forward. Keep all your weight on your heels and slowly bend your knees and sit your booty back and down,” she explains. “Then, press back up without locking out your knees. Do ten of these then hold in a low squat for ten seconds.”
Inner Thigh Lifts
To transform your inner thighs and core, Duhamel says to try lifts. “The leg closest to the ground will be doing the work. Flex your foot then lift the leg off the ground until you feel your inner thigh fire up. From here pulse up, pause, pulse down one inch, pause and repeat ten times.” Follow this move with a 10-second hold up.
Opposite Arm to Leg Crunch
An opposite arm to leg crunch will tone the abs and improves posture by strengthening the back. Duhamel says to “lay down flat on your back raise your right arm above your head and then lift the left leg up. While the leg is lifting, you lift the right arm and reach the hand to meet the outer corner of the left foot.” Be sure to focus on finding that rotation and do not let the foot or hand touch the ground. Do this move on each side for 30 seconds per side.
DON’T MISS: The 15-Minute No Equipment Ab Workout
Trainer Natalie Uhling is all about the tried and true burpee for full body conditioning in 30 seconds—though she recommends three sets of 30-second burpees with a 15-second break between sets. For “quality” burpees, she says to do the following: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees; make sure that you are not pushing through the toes of your feet but you are starting centered. As you jump, remember to land softly because you want to protect your joints. When you make your way down to the plank position, make sure your core is protected, that means keep your hips square and your butt out of the sky.
Meanwhile, a “push-up with burpee” is celeb trainer Mark Langowski’s #1 ab move; watch it here!
“The best exercise you can do if you only have 30 seconds each day is to learn and practice diaphragmatic breathing,” explains Carla Chickedantz, a personal trainer with Crunch gyms. “Diaphragmatic breathing is the most basic, original strength building technique that each and every human uses to build core strength as a newborn baby. As adults, we lose this skill and rely on auxiliary muscles in the chest, shoulders, and neck for respiration. This causes all sorts of problems. During our workouts, we often focus on the front, back and sides of the core, and neglect the top and bottom. Yes, the core is like a canister with the diaphragm at the top and pelvic floor at the bottom.”
Here’s how Chickedantz says to do it: Lay on a flat surface with your knees bent. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that you can feel your stomach move out against your hand. There should be little to no movement in the hand resting on your chest. Open your mouth slightly and slowly exhale completely until you feel your stomach fall and ribcage depress. Pause for two counts and inhale again.
Once you become more comfortable with the technique, you can try it while sitting up. Chickedantz says it will change your body by alleviating anxiety and stress, fix your posture, alleviate pain and strengthen abdominal and intestinal muscles. On a similar note, you can make the most of your stuck-in-a-seat time with these 21 Tricks to Lose Weight While Sitting Down!
DC-based personal trainer Chris Perrin says to do hip bridges if you want to get your derriere round and toned. “Lie on the floor. With bent legs, place both feet flat on the floor. Both arms down, hands on each side of your hips,” he explains. “Raise your low back off the floor by pushing through the heels of the feet. Once your hips are at their highest point—without straining your back—pause and return your lower back to the floor.” And squeeze those glutes the entire time!
The Running Pyramid
Olympic soccer medalist and Fit As A Pro star Lauren Sesselmann is a big fan of the “running pyramid” for 30 seconds. “It’s a mix of cardio and balance that works your whole body. You count from one to ten then ten back down to one with high knees until 30 seconds is up,” she says. “Aim to get your knees up to hip height. Raise right knee, pause. Then raise left knee, followed quickly by the right knee and pause with the right knee still up high. Then do three knees fast and pause.” Continue till you’ve done ten high knees and then back it down to the beginning. The pause will allow you to work on your balance because you are landing quickly with one knee in the air and one the leg on the ground.
Already know this move? Then you must be a runner—and won’t want to miss our guide to Eat This, Not That! For Serious Runners!
Personal trainer James Shapiro has a tough yet effective way to get your triceps toned and defined with “body weight skull crushers.” He says to “start in a pushup position either on the floor or on an incline. Have your hands inside shoulder width and fingers point straight ahead of you. Focusing on only bending from your elbows—which should remain tucked into your sides and not flared out—go down feeling the stretch and focus on your triceps.”
Matt Sauerhoff, owner of The LIV Method says one of his favorite, fastest and easiest to do on the go moves is the wall squat. “Start with your back against the wall and your heels about a foot off the wall. Bend your knees and slide down the wall until your legs create a 90-degree angle,” he says. “Make sure your knees are aligned over your toes/laces. Press heels into the floor and focus on contracting your abs, pressing lower back into the wall so it’s flat. Hold for 30 seconds.” Combine it with these 30 Fat-Burning Foods and you’ll be melting the fat in no time!
Elevated Quadrupled Shoulder Adduction
Shapiro recommends elevated quadrupled shoulder adduction for a total body workout. “Start on the floor on all fours with your knees on the ground shoulder width apart and hands on the ground shoulder width apart. Make sure your knees are in line with your hips and wrists in-line with your shoulders. Tuck your toes towards your body and straighten out your back to have a neutral posture,” he explains. “Here’s the fun part: now lift your knees off the ground just two to four inches. You should feel your arms, shoulders, core, quads, and legs shaking.” And for the finale? Utilize the back—begin by pushing your upper back to the sky, separating your shoulder blades. Immediately push your chest down to pinch your shoulder blades together to target the upper back muscle groups that include the rhomboids and lower traps.
Trainer Sara Haley loves 30 seconds a day of a core building exercise called resistance fight, which is especially great for those who’ve had children. “Lie on your back and lift one leg up to tabletop so that your knee is in line with your hip. Take your opposite hand and push against your thigh,” she says. “As you try to push your leg away with your hand, resist by pushing your leg into your hand in opposition. While all this is happening, you should be focusing on pulling your navel towards your spine and closing your rib cage. You may feel your body start to shake.” Be sure to hold for 15 seconds on each side. If your ears perked up at the mention of this being a great move for moms, then make sure you also look out for your kiddos with our report on 13 Scary Ingredients in Your Kid’s Lunch Box, Exposed!.
No matter where you are, you have time for 30 seconds of what Haley calls “Anywhere Push-Ups.” “This will target chest and triceps. Find a hard surface like kitchen counter or office desk. With both hands on the surface, walk away so that you’re in an elevated push-up position—the further you walk the more challenging the exercise,” she says. “Lower your body down so elbows and shoulders are at a 90-degree angle, push back up and repeat for ten reps.”
Squat Jacks are a surefire way to tone your legs and butt ,as well as your inner and outer thighs and provide a serious cardio blast and calorie burn in just 30 seconds. Marks says to do the following: Begin in a squat position, with your feet slightly wider than hip-width and place your hands behind your head, elbows wide. Keeping your core engaged, jump your feet in together, while maintaining a squat position. Quickly jump your feet back wide to the starting position. Be sure to keep your knees behind your toes the entire time.
To strengthen and tone your abs, Marks says to go with V-Ups. Here’s his instruction: Begin lying on your back with your legs straight and arms extended overhead. Engage your core by pressing your lower back into the ground. Keeping your legs and arms straight, simultaneously lift your legs and torso up, reaching your hands toward your feet. Your body will form a “V.” Slowly lower to the starting position. And if you want an added challenge? Dempsey says “don’t let your arms and legs rest on the ground in between reps.” Ouch! If you’re working this hard (even for just 30 seconds!) don’t undo your efforts by making any of these 30 Flat-Belly Mistakes Women Make.
Plank Twist Corkscrew
Alicia Marie, celebrity trainer, says you can change your core with plank twist corkscrews. “Hold in low plank position, keeping your core muscles tight and your forearms flat,” she says. “Slowly rotate your hips to one side, being sure not to drop them to the floor, then rotate your hips back to center. With your core muscles still engaged, rotate to the opposite side. Alternate back and forth slowly, completing five reps on each side for a total of four sets.”
The “Lying Bicycle” is one of the “gold standards” of abdominal moves according to Marie. “If it’s performed correctly, you will be targeting all areas of your abdominals and core for a tinier, tighter waistline.” To do it: Lie on your back on a mat, placing both hands at the base of your head to lightly support your head and neck (do NOT “yank”). In one continuous motion, bring one knee up to your chest and crunch up angling the opposite elbow towards that knee. Without pausing, alternate while bringing the other elbow up and toward the other knee. Perform this move in a fluid continuous motion without pausing. Count ten reps on each side. Rest and then begin again. Marie says to be sure not to “yank or turn your head,” as this move is done by the abdominals, not your neck. “Crunch up as much as you can throughout the start and finish,” she says. “Extend your legs completely; don’t just ‘cycle’ your feet.”
Lisa Avellino, Fitness Director at NY Health and Wellness, says to grab a kitchen towel and engage in just 30 seconds of isometric motion with it. “Thirty seconds of opposing pull—like a human tug-a-war—will take any muscle to its maximum potential because you use your own bodyweight as resistance,” she explains. “The best part is that the stronger you are the more challenging the workout is, so you can never surpass maximum potential.” Speaking of the kitchen, check out these 25 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen for Weight Loss!
Stephanie Mansour, weight loss and lifestyle coach for women, has a great way to get your triceps toned while you’re watching TV. Just do 30 tricep dips on your couch. Here’s how: “Hands on edge of couch, fingers facing you. Bend your knees at 90-degree angle, scooting your butt up so it almost touches the couch,” she says. “Bend at the elbows, lower your body down, then press back up and straighten your arms. Repeat for 30 seconds to work on arm flab.”
Tricep Dips With Donkey Kicks
Katy Fraggos, co-Owner and Head Trainer at Perspirology, says you can work your triceps, core, hip flexor, working leg quadriceps, and supporting leg hamstring in just 30 seconds a day with this move. “Start with your hands behind your back on the floor with fingertips pointed in. Working leg lifted with flexed foot. Butt is off the floor,” she says. “When elbows are bent, the knee is pulled into the chest. Arms will straighten as leg kicks outward to the front of the body in a ‘pumping’ action.” Try to complete as many as possible in 30 seconds and then if you have extra time, repeat for 30 seconds with the opposite leg lifted.
Double Leg Butt Busters
To sculpt your glutes and hamstrings, Fraggos recommends “Double Leg Butt Busters.” To do them, she says to start on your stomach “with head resting on bent forearms in front of the body. Knees turned out with feet flexed and heels pressed together. Pulse both thighs up to the ceiling as many times as possible in 30 seconds.”
To get your lower abdominals and obliques in pique shape, Fraggos says you can achieve that in just 30 seconds with a “Balancing Tabletop hold with Torso Twists.” To start, she says to hold your legs up in tabletop position in front of the body. Keep your thighs together and arms held bent in front of the chest. Try to maintain balance position as torso twists side to side. Try to keep legs still and only move torso.” Keep your focus; and brush up on these 22 Truths About Willpower if you need help making the most of your 30 seconds.
Dancer, choreographer, stunt woman and fitness expert Kelly Connolly says you can shrink your waist in 30 seconds a day with “salsa swivels.” “It’s no secret that dancing is a great way to trim down and tone without even realizing you’re exercising,” she says. “The high energy and twisting motions of Salsa dancing can have a significant impact on your body while giving you some new moves to take to the dance floor.”
They’re fun and easy to do: Keep your upper body facing forward while your lower body moves; start with 10 swivels to the right, then 10 to the left. Then do 9 swivels to the right, 9 to the left, then 8 right 8 left, and so on down to one. As each set has your upper body twisting faster and faster, you should feel your abdominal muscles burning and your hips getting loose.
Not totally following that? We give you permission to just blast some music for 30 seconds and shake it like Shakira. Grab your partner to burn some extra calories; fitting in mini workouts is one of the 30 Ways to Stay Slim When You’re Married!