5-Minute Moves to Tone Your Entire Body


Let’s face it: You’re busy. And when you say you don’t have time to get to the gym, I actually believe you. I’m a business owner, a frequent traveler, and a father of two young children, so trust me: I don’t have an hour to spend in the gym every day either, and I have one at my house. Who has four to five hours a week to spend working out? And even if you do somehow find the time, is it even working for you? Are you seeing results?

That’s why I spent the last decade pouring over research and talking with clients, friends, and seasoned trainers, all in the name of finding a way to make it possible to stay fit and toned while minimizing time and any inconvenience.

And I actually found out how to do it. The good news is we don’t need to spend as much time exercising as we thought. And regardless of your skill set or fitness level, you can build a leaner, stronger, healthier body. So here are two key tips for ditching the gym for better results in a fraction of the time:

Get Your Steps In

Try to take 10,000 steps a day (or meet your step goal), and move as much as possible, all throughout the day. Being sedentary for 23 hours and active for one isn’t doing your body or your health any favors. Making small tweaks to your daily life and including movement (like taking a walking meeting, walking to lunch, or simply standing up every hour), can make a huge difference you can sustain long-term.

Do One Move for 5 Minutes Every Day

Forget the hour-long, exhaustive workouts, and focus on doing one single resistance exercise daily for at least five minutes. Pick a different body part each day of the week, and choose a corresponding move that targets that area. The goal here is to set you up for success—and we all have the time and energy for one exercise a day. No gym or spandex needed. Just find yourself a little space to move around, and get to work.

Here are five moves to try, which together work your entire body. Perform one each day of the week, or if you have the time, do a set of each, to form a complete circuit.

DB Lunge with Shoulder Press 

This is a compound exercise, meaning it’s two moves in one, but it doesn’t feel like it because it’s such a simple, natural movement. You’ll challenge your legs (your quads and your glutes) as well as your shoulders.

Stand with feet hip distance, and hold two lightweight dumbbells in front of your shoulders, palms facing forward. Step forward about three feet with your right foot, bending your left knee to form a lunge—while simultaneously pressing the dumbbells up overhead. Step back to start and repeat on the other side. Perform two to three sets of 8 to 12 reps, or until you reach five minutes.

Lying DB Triceps Extension with Hip Thrust

This is a compound movement that even the least coordinated among us can candle. You’ll work the backs of your arms (triceps) and glutes. Did you know your triceps make up 2/3 of your arms? They’re a big deal, so it’s good to keep them strong.

Lay on a mat with feet about hip distance and flat on the mat, and hold a pair of lightweight dumbbells, with your arms extended up toward the ceiling, palms facing each other. Bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells back toward your ears. Next, press your hips up toward the ceiling while simultaneously straightening your arms to raise the dumbbells. (Be sure not to hyperextend your elbows.) Lower the dumbbells and your hips back toward the mat and repeat for two or three sets of 8 to 12 reps.

DB Stiff-Legged Deadlifts 

Ah, this is one of my favorite moves of all time—targeting the backs of your legs (hamstrings) and glutes. Most people over-train their quads at the expense of their hamstrings, but hamstrings are really the foundation to great legs and a firm derriere.

Stand with feet hip-distance, with a slight bend in your knees, and hold a pair of lightweight dumbbells, arms in front of your thighs, palms facing your body. Bend forward from your hips, keeping your back flat, and lower the dumbbells toward the floor. Engage your hamstrings and squeeze your glutes to return to start. Repeat for two to three sets of 8 to 12 reps.

Pike Plank 

Skip the crunches! This pike plank works your abs without jarring your neck or lower back, and it engages more of your core.

Get into a regular plank, with your hands directly beneath your shoulders, feet hip-distance, and your abs pulled in toward your spine. Pull your rear up toward the ceiling, to form a pike position, and then slowly lower your hips toward the floor. Repeat for two sets of 8 to 12 reps.

Dolphin Bench Extensions 

I find lots of people are scared to work their back (especially lower back) for fear of injury. The truth is that strengthening your back is the best thing you can do to prevent injury over the long term. This move works both your lower back and your glutes, and also challenges your midsection in a lengthened position, instead of hunching you over, like crunches can do.

Lay face down on a bench, or on a mat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and lower back to lift your legs off the floor (or up a few inches, if using the bench). Lower and repeat for three sets of 20 reps.

62 Comments   Join the Conversation

62 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I have the Fitbit charge HR. I haven’t been doing so well at getting 10,000 steps a day, but I’m going to work on it and I really love the 5-minutes for 5 days… Can’t wait to try this, too. I’m not good at “working out” but I want to be… Thank you for inspiring me!!!!!

  • Harley, Thanks so very much for this! I needed something simple to try so here goes! Wish me luck and thank you again!

  • This is a great idea and I am going to give it a go. I am an ex gym junky but eventually gave it up when I kept injuring myself – just overuse injuries from too much repetition and pushing myself too hard as I got older (I hate going easy!). But with a different exercise each day and keeping the weights reasonable I reckon I can do this. Thankyou for a great idea and some great exercises.

  • Hi Harley,

    My family recently gifted me a FitBit Blaze for my 80th Birthday.
    It’s a form of discipline I’m now learning to enjoy. Setting a goal of at least 5,000 steps a day (at this point in time… ) I will try some of your daily work-outs, starting this week. With thanks, Brenda Marie

    • good for you, I also need to work on the same area. I’m just not so sure how to get started. I’m 68 yr old 5ft. 7in and I weigh 230 and really hate it. If I had someone to work with I probably would do better, But I’m going to give it a try.

  • I have no difficulty with 10,000 steps and often exceed. I do bands for strength but do need an exercise routine so will try this one. I have managed to stick with this plan since mid April and have lost 20 pounds. V

  • Love the combo moves…like a 2 for 1 sale. I instruct an exercise class for seniors in Florida [50+…in actuality some well into their 80’s] during the winter so multi-level and modification is the key to success for many. Love using bridges [hip thrusts] for core but since I have a few people who won’t get down on a mat, I am trying to figure out how to do them from a chair….any suggestions????
    Incidently, since I use a Fitbit >50% of the class now use one as well!

  • is this safe or appropriate for age over 70 years old i would like to have a daily exercise to do to get my muscle tone back and strengthen my core so i am not injuring myself

  • Thank you for showing the moves in motion! Finally, I can figure out what exactly to do in an exercise move. ‘Much appreciate!

  • I love this 5 min plan. I have a torn meniscus and have been looking for some exercises that won’t hurt the knee. The only one I can’t do is the lunge. Thanks!!

  • I love this 5 min plan. I have a torn meniscus and have been looking for some exercises that won’t hurt the knee. The only one I can’t do is the lunge. Thanks!!

  • I love this Harley!!! I am all about multi-targeted body workouts that get me in and out of the gym ,but still have me feeling like I put in 2 hrs+, when in actuality i only spent an hour or less!!
    Thank you!!!

  • Harley, love the 5 minute workout. What weight do you suggest for the dumbbells? I am a 170 lb. Male in pretty good shape for my age (70). Play golf 3 times a week and walk the Dog 4-5 miles daily. Thanks, Don

  • How about some excercises for a 85 year old? I currently workout in the pool 40 minutes per day and walk at least 2 miles. I had been up to 4 miles but arthritis in my left knee forced me to cut back. Still haven’t made 10,000 steps yet!

  • I agree a few simple moves that you can do quickly. The dolphin extensions have always been a favorite of mine . The triceps hip bump is great too. Plus walking as much as you can. Off your ass and on your toes. After 40 yrs as an RN in Orthopedics I can tell you that a little movement frequently is better than lifting a small auto.

  • I have six screws in my back due to degenerative disk disease. Bending forward is almost impossible. I can walk and lift weights but cannot bend forward or backward. Any suggestions for exercises for me?

  • This is great i information! I try my best to get 10k steps in, but it’s also harder in the winter. Can’t walk the dog as much. And I also changed to a desk job. I try to walk around for lunch. But this is something I’m going to try.

  • This is great i information! I try my best to get 10k steps in, but it’s also harder in the winter. Can’t walk the dog as much. And I also changed to a desk job. I try to walk around for lunch. But this is something I’m going to try.

  • How about exercises that are for older,( 70 ) folks. Ones that can be done seated or standing . Those of us that cannot get down on the floor!!

  • This is fantastic! It’s just what I needed. Something short and looks like I can do it. I almost always hit well beyond my 10,000 step goal. I need something to target the vatious muscle grouos. Thank You so much!

  • I love the 5 minute movement concept. I plan to do these exercises this week starting Monday at work and try to get my co-workers involved also. I see one problem with 3 of the exercises which is having to lay down or be on the floor to accomplish them. There’s no real place to do this other than the bathroom and that’s not always the best of places. But we will improvise.

  • Does this really work? I am fit but I have a little chub. So if this definitely works I will do it for bikni season!

  • Harley I had knee replacement about 4 years ago! I can’t do the one where u pick your knee on the floor! Any other one you can suggest? Thanks

  • The DB Lunge with shoulder press shows using on weight…article says two. Hope it’s okay to use just the one. Can’t wait to get started:)

  • The DB Lunge with shoulder press shows using only one weight…article says two. Hope it’s okay to use just the one. Can’t wait to get started:)
    Thank you:)

  • Thanks for the 5 minutes exercises. I will start these tomorrow. I have fortunately been able to get in 10,000 steps daily. It’s been a struggle though.

  • I jog for 40mins everyday but still my weight seems to be more on the lower portion of the body and my calves are heavy. Can you please guide?

  • Im going to try the 5 moves I am having trouble being consistent. My spouse doesn’t exercise and it frustrates me I don’t want him to be MY excuse but lately it’s hard to get motivated.

  • Your recommendations are all good, and I’ve been using three of them randomly for the past 25 years with good results. But since I turn 76 this year, I search in vain for suggestions for us “aging elites.” Any comments or suggestions you have, including tweaks on these five drills, would be very helpful. My optimum heart rate when exercising is 105~115; pulse at rest, 60. What thoughts do you have about frequency of exercise (and duration) for aging seniors? Many thanks and regards, Steve.

  • I have back issues and I think several of these exercises are great for my situation including the dolphin kick, the plank pike and the pelvic thrust with dumbbells. Many thanks

  • I have added 8 ounces of water at the top of each hour. Then at every bathroom break, I do 20 squats and 20 wall push-ups. This has made a huge difference in my energy level and strength.

  • This is great. I think I can do this. I hate hate going to the gym. I do have a Fitbit and set my goal to 7,000 steps a day and will work up to 10,000. I ride my bike at least 10 miles 2 or 3 days a week and walk 2 or 3 miles a couple days a week but do not do any strength training. This will be great!

    Thanks so much!!

  • Every one of these exercises would hurt my knees. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and i liked it at first since then it has fallen off twice, once in bed, which was okay the other time in a parking lot, luckily it was right next to my car.

  • Those 5 min. exercises may be fine for a young male or female. I would like some quick, time saving ones for a female in her 70’s. esp. for someone healthy but not used to much exercising.

  • When doing the dead lift, how much weight should you be using in your weights. I never know. Sometimes the weights I have don’t seem to be heavy

  • I love these, they are terrific! My question is on the first one: the text and the video demo don’t match.
    -Text refers to 2 dumbbells with palms facing forward, but video shows one dumbbell with palm facing body.
    -Also, text states you are to simultaneously lunge down while pressing weight up, however video shows the lunge down, then the press-weight-up simultaneously with the lunging up.
    -Could you number the steps? (Steps should be numbered, but results should not.)
    Again, this is terrific, and I’m really happy to get this very do-able set. Thanks so much,
    Louise (technical writer)

    • I signed on to note the photo/text mismatch on DB Lunge as well. Amazing that photo mad text do not even agree on when to lift. They need a technical writer, evidently.

  • I agree with Anne. I wish someone would show exercises to strengthen core for those of us in our “golden years” that after years of exercising and running now have 6 rods and 8 screws in our back to hold us together! Every time I see an article on strengthening the core, I cringe at the sight of what they are doing to their backs.

  • Love these educating excercise plans but you nee to make posts with modifications shown. Fit bitters are of all ages and conditions and not all of us are spring chics. Don’t get me wrong I am a senior with 30 -50000 steps a day but 3/4 of whatHarley showed needed modifications for knees and back. Would have been nice to see them to help educate a growing fit bit population.

  • This is great! How about folks who have knee issues and lunges just do not work as well as folks of a “certain age” Any substitute exercises?

  • I would like to see exercises for someone like me. I am in my 70s and very active but those exercises seem too extreme for my age.

  • thankyou i love clear video workouts i am inspired now i have directions how to do them with my fitbit flex thanks mate

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