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7 Weight-Free Workouts Kaley Cuoco Does When Injured

Kaley Cuoco has carpal tunnel in both hands from holding her newborn baby.
FACT CHECKED BY Jeremy Horowitz

Kaley Cuoco isn't letting anything get in the way of her workouts, including carpal tunnel–a tingling, numbness, or burning pain in the hand or fingers that's associated with "prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist," according to the Cleveland Clinic. The new mom showed how you can still hit the gym "even if you're injured." In a video her trainer Ryan Sorenson posted, the actress explained, "So some of you may know I have this, like, major wrist/hand injury from holding the baby. It's a very real thing. Google it," Cuoco said, standing inside a gym where she revealed the stabilizing wrist braces she wore on each hand.

Instead of skipping workouts, her trainer revised them. "And I think the only thing to make them better is for us to start working out without using my hands. And without using any body weight on my hands, which sounds crazy, and how can you get a workout like that?" she continued. The 37-year-old was ready to give it a shot, saying, "Ryan and I are gonna do it today, and we're gonna show you that you can still get a workout, even if you are injured." Here are seven hands-free exercises Cuoco is doing and what fitness experts think about her new routine. 

Resistance Band Lateral/Plyometric Jumps


In the video, we see The Flight Attendant actress wearing a resistance band around her ankles while performing jumps with half-turns.

What the Expert Says: "This movement primarily targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core muscles," ACE-certified trainer and nutritionist Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, LD, explains. "The exercise enhances lower body strength, power, balance, and coordination due to the plyometric nature of the jumps and the added resistance from the band. It's valuable for functional fitness and sports-related activities, but proper technique is vital to avoid injury." She adds, "Incorporating resistance band lateral jumps into your routine adds variety and challenges to your workout, making it suitable for improving athleticism. However, ensure a proper warm-up, start with an appropriate resistance level, and progress gradually. Remember to maintain a balanced workout regimen that addresses different muscle groups and movement patterns for overall fitness and injury prevention." To get the most out of this move, Sabat says, "This is more of a timed exercise than a rep. I would say 45 -60 seconds."

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Resistance Band Knee Lifts on Step


The second move Cuoco does for her hands-free workout is knee lifts on a step wearing resistance bands. 

What the Expert Says: According to Sabat, "Keeping the resistance band around the ankles while performing quick knee lifts on a step primarily targets the hip flexors, quadriceps, and lower abdominal muscles. This exercise helps to strengthen these muscle groups, enhance hip mobility, and improve overall lower body stability. The resistance band adds resistance throughout the movement, intensifying the workout and promoting muscle engagement." She continues, "By focusing on hip flexors and quadriceps, the exercise contributes to better functional fitness and agility, which is useful for activities requiring quick changes of direction or movements involving the legs. Additionally, engaging the lower abdominal muscles helps in maintaining a stable core, supporting posture, and potentially reducing the risk of lower back issues."

Ladder Drills


Wearing a grey tank top and black leggings, the Big Bang Theory alum does ladder drills, which enhance speed, agility, and quickness. 

What the Expert Says: "By engaging in quick shuffles, lateral movements, and coordinated footwork through the ladder's rungs or spaces, these drills improve agility, balance, and overall coordination," Sabat says. "They also enhance reaction time and proprioception, which is the body's ability to sense its position and movements in space. Additionally, ladder drills provide a cardiovascular workout, boosting heart rate and promoting calorie burn." There are several benefits to ladder drills and Sabat breaks down why they're so effective. 

  • They help athletes and fitness enthusiasts develop sharper reflexes, which are essential in sports requiring rapid changes of direction. 
  • Improved agility can lead to better performance in activities like tennis, soccer, and basketball. 
  • Moreover, these drills can help prevent injuries by enhancing joint stability and muscle coordination. 

Overall, ladder drills provide a fun and effective way to enhance athleticism and overall physical fitness." She adds, "This is more of a timed exercise so aim for 60 seconds."

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Lateral Box Jumps


Another exercise the mom of one does is lateral box jumps

What the Expert Says: "Lateral hops onto an angled block are often referred to as 'lateral box jumps' or 'lateral plyometric jumps,'" Sabat explains. "This exercise involves jumping laterally (side-to-side) onto an elevated surface at an angle, typically a box or a step. It primarily targets the lower body muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, while also engaging the core for stability and balance." Lateral box jumps are a great workout and Sabat says they're "effective for improving lower body strength, power, and explosiveness." She adds, "The angled surface increases the demand on the stabilizing muscles and challenges lateral movement mechanics. It also enhances proprioception and coordination. This exercise can be particularly beneficial for athletes involved in sports that require lateral movement, such as basketball, tennis, and soccer, as it helps replicate the dynamic movements needed in those activities." The form is really important and Sabat tells us, "proper technique and progression are essential to prevent injury, making it important to start with an appropriate box height and gradually increase the challenge as strength and skill improve." She suggests 15 reps per side. 

Resistance Band Step-Ups


Cuoco does a variety of exercises that don't involve working out her hands including resistance band step-ups, which target the lower body like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles. 

What the Expert Says: "By incorporating a resistance band, it adds external resistance to the movement, making the muscles work harder and more effectively," Sabat says. "The banded step-up exercise is beneficial because it enhances lower body strength, endurance, and stability." She adds, "The resistance band adds progressive resistance, which means that as you step up against the band's tension, your muscles need to overcome greater resistance, leading to muscle growth and increased strength over time. Additionally, the exercise simulates functional movements like climbing stairs or hills, improving overall leg strength and stability for daily activities or athletic performance. This is also a timed exercise so aim for 60 seconds."

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Suicide Sprint Without Touch


There's a lot of variety in Cuoco's workouts and a sixth move she does is a suicide sprint without touching the ground with her hands. 

What the Expert Says: "In this exercise, a person sprints forward as fast as possible without touching down at the designated points and then reverses direction to sprint back to the starting point," Sabat explains to us. "This training target is often used in sports and fitness settings to enhance agility, speed, and cardiovascular endurance." She adds, "The quick changes in direction during the run help improve an athlete's ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction rapidly, which is crucial for sports that involve frequent shifts in movement, such as basketball, soccer, and tennis. Additionally, the intensity of the exercise promotes cardiovascular fitness and can contribute to overall conditioning. This is another timed exercise that you should aim for 60 seconds."

Shadow Boxing

Cuoco does a great job of proving how to get a good workout without using your hands. Near the end of the video, she does shadowboxing with her trainer, which is effective for building muscle memory. 

What the Expert Says: "In shadowboxing, you simulate the movements, techniques, and combinations of boxing without a physical target," says Sabat. "This practice is highly beneficial for refining your boxing skills, footwork, and overall technique. It allows you to focus on perfecting your form, balance, and coordination, honing your defensive maneuvers and offensive strikes. Shadowboxing also aids in developing mental concentration, rhythm, and visualization, as you mentally engage with an imaginary opponent. It's a fundamental training tool used by boxers and martial artists to enhance their boxing prowess, improve muscle memory, and prepare for real sparring or competitive bouts. This is also a timed exercise that you should aim for 60 seconds."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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