We all know that regularly exercising is an important part of staying healthy and fit, but I’ll admit that I don’t always get the 150 minutes of exercise per week that the Department of Health and Human Services recommends. If you’re spending your day working, cleaning up the apartment, dealing with kids, and cooking, the last thing you want to do is go to the gym.
If that sounds like you, then you’ll like my solution to this problem. Lately, I’ve been implementing small exercises in my daily life. I get a decent amount of exercise done without having to commit a huge block of time visiting a gym. It turns out you can get reasonably tone with just simple bodyweight exercises.
Personally, I find the best time to do these sorts of workouts is while I cook. You can use the time spent waiting on a pan to heat up or the time in between stirring your stirfry to get a few quick exercises in. To make things a little easier for you, I’ve created a list of my top 14 exercises that can be done in the kitchen.
My guide will give you detailed instructions on how to do each exercise. You can find exercises that target muscles you want to build and discover methods for doing them along with basic kitchen tasks.
Recommended Workout Video:
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14 Great Exercises You Can Do in the Kitchen
These are one of my all-time favorite bodyweight exercises because you can do them anywhere and any time. Squats are quick and convenient, so you can do them in between flipping grilled cheeses or stirring a pot of soup. You can also incorporate squats into regular kitchen activities. I do squats when putting away canned goods on low shelves or getting an item out of my oven.
Target muscles: Squats primarily target the thigh, hip, and buttock muscles like the quadriceps and hamstrings. However, they also work out the core and calf muscles a little.
- Place your feet shoulder width apart with your toes turned very slightly outwards.
- Keeping your feet flat, your head forward, and your abs slightly pulled in, bend your knees to drop your hips. You can put your arms straight out in front of you to help with balance
- Go as low as desired, but do not let your knees push forward over your toes. Try to at least get low enough to have your thighs parallel to the floor.
- Pause for a moment at the lowest part of the squat before rising to a standing position.
This exercise is easy to work into a kitchen routine because you can do it every time you need to pull something off a high shelf.
Target muscles: As the name implies, this hand exercise helps to build killer calves
- Start with your feet a comfortable distance apart and your feet pointed forward.
- Slowly straighten your ankle joint to raise your body without bending the knees.
- Keep going until you are standing on your tiptoes before slowly lowering your heels back to the ground.
You can perform this exercise anywhere where you have space to move around and something to hold onto. I like to do it on my kitchen island.
Target muscles: Rocking Horse is a great way to strengthen the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Stand in a lunge position with both knees bent and your right leg bent behind you. Hold onto something for support.
- Straighten your left leg to pull yourself into a standing position while you straighten your right leg and lift it off the floor.
- At the same time, raise your left arm and extend it outwards.
- Return to original position and repeat.
If you’re like some, you might not quite have the upper body strength yet to do full push-ups. This modified version of a push-up is easier, but it is still quite effective. You can do them while leaning against a counter, table, or kitchen step ladder.
Target muscles: Incline push-ups target the muscles in the upper back and lower chest a little more than other types of push-ups.
- Position yourself by putting your arms straight against a counter at about a shoulder’s width apart. You need to stand far enough back that your body is straight in this position, and you should rest your weight on your tip toes and palms.
- Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the counter.
- Remain in the lowered position for a moment before straightening your arms to push yourself back up.
These are great if you want to get rid of flabby upper arms. A sturdy kitchen chair is a perfect height for this exercise.
Target muscles: The tricep dips target your triceps along the back, the upper part of your arm.
- Sit on a chair and place your palms a few inches behind you with your fingers pointing towards you.
- Slide your butt off the chair while keeping your legs extended until your weight is on your feet and palms.
- Bend your elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle to lower your body.
- Straighten your arms to raise your body back up.
Incline Mountain Climbers
I love mountain climbers because it lets you break a sweat and get a little bit of a cardio workout while cooking. You can do them on a kitchen chair or counter.
Target muscles: These are great for targeting the core muscles in the abdomen and lower back. They also provide a little workout for your shoulders and arms.
- Put your hands a little farther than a shoulder’s width apart on your step and then extend your body to a plank position.
- Engage your abdominal muscles and then bring one knee up to the chest.
- Switch legs quickly to bring up your other knee.
- Continue switching legs in a running position until finished.
Standing Side Leg Raises
When doing standing side leg raises, I like to hold onto my kitchen counter to avoid tipping over.
Target muscles: These mostly workout the gluteus muscles in the buttocks, along with the core and hip muscles.
- Stand with both feet a few inches apart. If desired, hold onto something for support.
- Keeping your leg straight, lift it as high as you can.
- Hold the position slightly and then gradually lower leg without letting it drop.
- Repeat with both legs.
Standing Glute Kickback
If you want, you can hold onto a chair or the counter while you do these. Just be sure to check behind you before doing these in the kitchen. I’ve accidentally kicked a cabinet door before!
Target muscles: You can probably guess from the name, but these exercises target the gluteus muscles!
- Stand with your feet about a shoulder-width apart.
- Activate your glute to lift your leg straight behind you. Keep your leg straight throughout the exercise, and avoid leaning forward to lift up your leg.
- Pause for a moment with your leg extended before bringing it back to the front.
These are another great cardio option that you can do in between cooking steps. I find it works better if you stretch or warm up your hamstrings before starting.
Target muscles: This primarily works out the glutes and hamstrings, but it also does a little for the ab and leg muscles.
- Stand up straight with your feet about six inches apart.
- Kick your foot up and back, as if you were trying to kick your butt.
- Place your foot down and then kick up the other leg in the same manner.
- Continue switching between legs with a light, jogging motion.
Standing Side Crunch
These are a great choice because they let you target your core muscles without having to lay on a hard kitchen floor for sit-ups.
Target muscles: These side crunches get all of your ab muscles, especially the obliques along the side.
- Stand with your weight resting on your left leg. Position your right leg out at an angle with your torso bent slightly to the left and your right arm raised and bent slightly over your head.
- Simultaneous bring your right arm down and lift your right leg to make them meet.
- Return to your original position and repeat the crunch as desired.
- Switch to the other side.
The combination of pushing and pulling motions in this exercise make it a truly effective form of exercising the arm muscles.
Target muscles: You work out your back, arm, and ab muscles when you do push-pulls.
- Stand in a plank position with your arms on your counter, your body straight, and your weight resting on your tiptoes.
- Bend your elbows to lower yourself into a push-up position.
- Straighten your arms while lifting your chest into a slight backbend.
- Roll your weight back onto your heels and bend at the waist until your arms are straight and your torso is parallel to your floor.
- Straighten your body to return to the start position.
Since your feet stay in the same position throughout this exercise, it can easily be done in the narrowest of kitchens.
Target muscles: Your quadriceps are the main group worked by a static lunge, but it also targets the adductor muscles along the inside thigh and the hamstrings.
- Stand with your right foot a step forward and your left leg a step back.
- Bend both of your knees forward until your left knee is pointed down at the ground. Both of your legs should be in a roughly 90-degree angle.
- Straighten both your legs to return to a standing position.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Side Seat Stretch
Target muscles: In addition to stretching the legs and back, this activates the oblique abs.
- Stand with your hips bent at a 90-degree angle and your arms straight over your head and placed on a counter.
- Bend one knee slightly while turning to the side.
- Straighten knee and bend the other knee.
To be effective, you need to hold this pose for at least 30 seconds, so try to time it when you have a minute of free time during your cooking.
Target muscles: An incline plan targets many muscles through the core, including the abs and the back. It also exercises the major thigh and arm muscle groups.
- Position your body so that your feet are on the floor and your arms are straight on a counter, sturdy chair, or step stool. Make sure your hands and feet about a shoulder-width apart.
- Straighten your body until it is as flat as possible.
- Contract your core muscles and hold this position.