Quick and Efficient Workouts For Busy Mums
Being a parent is a full time job, and when you add work, friend, and family commitments on top, it can feel impossible to get any time to yourself, let alone to work out.
Regular exercise has huge mental and physical benefits, so it’s well worth squeezing in – even if that’s just one gym session a week, or a 10-minute workout at home every other day. If you can’t work out as often as you’d like, making sure the workouts you do are effective means you will still be able to progress and improve your fitness.
We’ve already shared some helpful tips for busy mums who are trying to fit in exercise here, and here we’re sharing exercise for busy mums that can be followed at home, at the gym, and even with your family.
If you’re short on time and want a high intensity, high energy workout that requires no planning, fitness classes are a great option. Being in a group environment with a fitness instructor to motivate you means you’re able to really put your all in during your workout, even if that’s just once or twice a week!
There are also classes for every goals, from calorie burning cardio classes that can help with weight loss, to strength and conditioning classes that help to sculpt and tone. Most PureGym classes are 30-45 minutes long and run from early in the morning until late evening, which means there’s a class available for most busy schedules.
Short gym workouts (30-60 minutes)
If you have a gym membership but can only squeeze in shorter workouts on your lunch or before work, give these 30-60 minute workouts a go. We’ve opted for workouts which focus on compound exercises and use minimal equipment, as this means you can work more muscles in less moves, with less moving round the gym, for a faster, more efficient workout.
Start each gym session with 3-5 minutes on the cross-trainer or walking on the treadmill at a moderately fast pace to warm up your muscles, and end each session with a 3-5 minute cooldown and/ or stretches.
If you’re following these workouts regularly, make sure to either up the weight you use or add reps. This will help to continually challenge your muscles so that you get stronger and build muscle.
Lower body (30 mins)
For this busy mum workout, all you need is a kettlebell and a mat. Do 3-4 sets of each exercise, with a 45-60 second rest between each set.
Kettlebell goblet squat – 10 reps
Goblet squats work pretty much every muscle in the body and are great for building strong, toned muscles. Start standing tall with feet around hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in both hands in front of your chest. Engage your core and sink your hips back and down as if you were about to sit, stopping when your hips reach just below your knees. Return to standing by driving through the heels and pushing your hips forward.
Get more squat variations here.
Kettlebell deadlift – 10 reps
Deadlifts are another exercise which works almost the whole body, although it mainly focuses on the lower body and back. Start by standing with feet to the side and slightly back to a kettlebell. Engage your core and hinge forward at the hips and grab the kettlebell handle. Keep your back straight and drive your hips forward to return to standing, making sure to squeeze through your glutes.
Kettlebell glute bridge – 10 reps
The glute bridge works your hamstrings and glutes but requires less time setting up than the barbell hip thrust which makes it ideal when you’re short on time. Lie on your back and place your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart, knees facing the ceiling. Place the kettlebell on top of your hips and hold in place with both hands. Engage your core and then lift your glutes and hips off the floor, focusing on contracting your glutes to power the movement. Pause before slowly returning back to the start.
Squat jumps – 10 reps
Squat jumps help to build explosive power, burn calories, and even work your cardiovascular system. Start by standing tall and engaging your core. Squat down until your thighs are just below parallel with the floor, then explode back up to standing and jump off the floor. Lower back into the next rep as soon as you land back on the ground.
Upper body (30 mins)
To do this work out, you just need a pair of dumbbells and a bench. Do 3-4 sets of each exercise, with a 45-60 second rest between each set.
Bent over dumbbell rows – 10 reps
Bent over dumbbell rows work nearly all the muscles in the back in just one exercise. Start with a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, then hinge forward at the hips so your torso is around 45-90 degrees from your legs and your arms are hanging straight down. Keeping your back flat, pull the dumbbell up by driving the elbows straight back and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Stop when your elbows are around level with your spine and return to the start.
Get more row variations here.
Overhead dumbbell press – 8 reps
This exercise works your shoulders, chest, upper back, and triceps. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the dumbbells at shoulder height, elbows at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lift the dumbbells above your head without fully straightening your arms. Pause at the top then slowly return to the start position.
Dumbbell chest press - 10 reps
The dumbbell chest press works your chest, triceps, and shoulders, and is a great bench press variation. Lie back on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly on the floor, shoulder blades squeezed together and a slight arch in your back. Hold a dumbbell in each hand just above and outside your shoulders, with palms facing the floor. Your elbows should be around 75 degrees from your body. Push the dumbbells up by extending your elbows until your arms are straight. At the top of the movement, the dumbbells should be close to touching. Reverse the movement by slowly lowering the weights until they are in line with your shoulders.
Lateral raises – 8 reps
This is an isolation exercise that works the shoulders and upper back. Use a weight that is light enough to complete the exercise with control. Stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, palms facing inwards. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to provide a strong base, and then raise your arms out to the sides, stopping when your arms are parallel with the floor. At the top of the exercise, your arms should be slightly in front of your torso, and your elbows should have a soft bend. Pause before slowly lowering back to starting position.
Full body (60 mins)
This whole workout can be done with a pair of dumbbells and a bench. Do 3 sets of each exercise, with a 60 second rest between each set.
Dumbbell squat and press - 10 reps
This move works your lower body, core, shoulders, and upper back, making it a powerful exercise when you’re short on time. Start by standing tall with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand to the front of your shoulders. Sink your hips down until they’re sat below the knees, then explode up out of the squat while pressing the dumbbells straight up toward the ceiling. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Bent over dumbbell rows – 10 reps
Start with a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, then hinge forward at the hips so your torso is around 45-90 degrees from your legs and your arms are hanging straight down. Keeping your back flat, pull the dumbbell up by driving the elbows straight back and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Stop when your elbows are around level with your back and return to the start.
Incline dumbbell chest press – 8 reps
Opting for an incline chest press works your shoulders to a slightly greater degree, making this a great move for shoulders, tricep, and chest. Set a bench at a 45 degree incline and sit with your back against the support, holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of your chest. Engage your core and allow a slight arch in the back. Press the dumbbells up towards the ceiling, stopping just before they touch. Pause then slowly the weights back to the start.
Dumbbell hip thrust – 12 reps
Using dumbbells or a preloaded barbell reduces the time needed to set up for this glute and hamstring focused exercise. Sit on the floor with your shoulders and upper back against the bench, knees bent towards the ceiling, and feet flat on the floor. Rest the dumbbell on your hips and hold with both hands. Brace your core and then drive your hips up by squeezing through the glutes, stopping when your thighs are in line with your torso. Pause before slowly lowering back down.
Dumbbell deadlift – 10 reps
Stand tall with your feet around shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing the body. Hinge forward at the hips and bend your knees slightly lower the dumbbells towards the ground, making sure to keep your back straight throughout. Pause at a position you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then return to standing by squeezing your glutes and keeping your core tight.
Hanging knee raises – 8 reps
This exercise works your core, hip flexors, grip strength, and shoulder mobility. Grab on to the pull up bar or rig using an overhand grip and hang down. Tilt your pelvis up towards your rips and engage your core and glutes, then bring your knees up towards your chest. Use your abs to drive the movement. Slowly return back to the starting position. Repeat.
Exercise for mums at home
If you don’t have time for the gym, or don’t have a gym membership right now, these at home workouts for mums can help you stay fit from home. They are short enough to fit in a busy schedule, and high intensity enough to get all the benefits of a longer workout. Make sure to put all your effort into the exercises to make the most of these shorter mum workout sessions.
Ideally, these will be combined with longer strength training sessions throughout the week so that you can build strength and endurance, but don’t worry if you can only squeeze in a few shorter workouts – any activity is good!
You can find more HIIT home workout ideas here.
To warm up, do 30 seconds jumping jacks followed by 30 seconds of overhead squats, then do 50 seconds of each exercise followed by a 10 second rest, and repeat the circuit two times in total.
Squat jumps combine cardio and strength in one explosive movement. Squat down as normal until your hips fall below your knees, then explode back to standing and jump off the ground. As your feet land, immediately squat back down and repeat.
Burpees are a full body, high energy exercise which pack a punch. Stand tall with feet shoulder width apart and brace your core. Squat down and drop your hands to the floor in front of your feet, then kick your feet back into a high plank position. Drop your chest to the floor, before pushing back up to standing. As you come up, swing your arms up and jump as high as you can.
This is another explosive exercise that works multiple muscles. Start in a high plank position, hands directly under your shoulders, and core tight. Moving as fast as you can, pull your right knee to your chest and then immediately return back to starting position. Repeat with your other leg and alternate as fast as you can. Keep your core engaged and torso stable.
This move raises your heart rate and works the core and lower body. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, then squat down halfway. Hold your hands in front of your chest and shuffle to the right for four steps, before shuffling to the left, maintaining the bend in your legs throughout.
To cool down, do 30 seconds of jogging on the spot followed by 30 seconds walking on the spot. If you have time, we also recommend spending a few minutes stretching after.
Warm up with 30 seconds of jumping jacks, 20 seconds of arm circles, and 20 seconds of leg swings. Then do 45 seconds of each exercise, with a 15 second rest in between. Repeat the circuit twice.
The jumping lunge is a plyometric exercise which will get your heart racing and work your lower body and core. From standing, lunge your left leg forward and bend both arms to counterbalance your legs. Bend your knees to lunge deeper, then explode up so both feet are off the floor and legs are extended. While in the air, switch your legs and arms so that the front limbs are in the back position. Land into a soft lunge and repeat.
This move works your core and shoulders while keeping the intensity at a good level. Sit with your feet on the floor in front of you and then lean your torso back around 45 degrees. Take your feet off the floor, engage your core, and bring your hands in front of your chest. Twist your upper body to the right, then bring back to centre and repeat on the other side.
High to low plank
This dynamic plank variation works several muscles throughout the body including core, lats, shoulders, and quads. Start in a high plank position with hands directly under your shoulders. Engage your core and then lower onto your forearms one by one. Return to high plank one arm at a time and repeat. Keep your spine straight and body as stable as possible throughout.
Squat pulses fatigue the muscles quicker than traditional squats, making them a great alternative when you’re short on time. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, arms in front of your chest. Engage your core and lower your hips until they’re level or just below your knees. Start to rise up around 2-3 inches and then lower back down again. Pulse between these two positions.
This is an aerobic exercise which uses muscles in the arms, back, core, legs, and glutes. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and engage your core. Bring your right knee up to your waist while bring the left arm forward. As you return your foot to the floor, repeat on the other side. Alternate as fast as you can.
Walkout to push ups
This push up variation works the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core, and keeps your heart rate high. Start by standing tall, then hinge forward at the hips to place your hands on the floor in front of your feet. Engage your core and walk your hands out until you are in a push up position. Perform a push up then walk your hands back to your feet and stand up. Repeat.
Cool down with 30 seconds of jogging on the spot followed by 30 seconds walking on the spot, and then 1-2 minutes stretching.
Warm up with 30 seconds of jump squats, 20 seconds of arm circles, and 20 seconds of leg swings. Do 40 seconds of each exercise followed by a 20 second rest and repeat the circuit 3 times, taking a slightly longer rest (30-45 seconds) between each circuit if needed.
This squat variation works your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and inner thighs, and is challenging even without any weights. Stand tall with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, feet turned out between 45 and 90-degrees. Keeping your back straight, bend at the knees to bring your thighs parallel with the floor. Pause then squeeze your glutes while driving through your feet to standing.
Alternating curtsy lunges
Curtsy lunges work the quads, glutes, and hip abductors. Start by standing with feet hip-width apart and core engaged, with your hands in front of your chest. Lunge your left back and to the right, so it crosses behind your right foot, while bending your right leg to 90 degrees. Push through your feet back to starting position and repeat on the other side.
Start in a high plank position, hands directly under your shoulders, and core tight. Moving as fast as you can, pull your right knee to your chest and then immediately return back to starting position. Repeat with your other leg and alternate as fast as you can. Keep your core engaged and torso stable.
Plank to push up
This exercise is a progression of the high to low plank. Start in a forearm plank and push up to high plank one hand at a time. Perform a full push up, then lower into forearm plank. Repeat.
This core exercise is a killer finisher. Move slowly to ensure the abs do the work, rather than momentum. Start by lying on the floor with legs extended out and hands holding your head. Press your lower back into the floor, engage your core, and bring both knees up so feet are off the floor. Straighten your left leg while bringing your right knee towards your chest. As you do this, twist your torso to bring your left elbow towards the right knee. Switch legs so that your right leg is extended, and left knee comes in to meet your right elbow. Repeat.
Cooldown with 45 seconds of marching on the spot, getting progressively slower, and 1-2 minutes of stretching.
Family friendly workouts
Getting your kids involved with staying active is a great way to include exercise in your routine without passing up on family time, plus it encourages your children to have a healthy relationship with exercise.
Cycling works almost every muscle in the body, as well as your cardiovascular system, making it a great family-friendly option for the weekend or after school. It also helps to improve balance and coordination, which is great for growing kids. Why not pack a picnic and make a whole day of it?
Putting on a family sports day is a great way to encourage active play and bond with your kids. Choose high intensity activities like skipping, sack race, and relay races, to ensure you’re getting good cardio benefits. You could also head to the park or playground to do some actual sports like football or basketball.
Throwing a dance party at home is a fun way to get the whole family moving around. You can create your own dances or follow some online – we have dance fitness classes available on our free PureGym app.
Fitting in exercise when you can, no matter how short, is a great way to stay active as a busy mum. Combining short home workouts, gym workouts where possible, and exercise with your family, will help to keep you happy and healthy.
You can find more free workouts here, including this article on the best HIIT workouts for women, or if you’re feeling motivated to start to gym or join in a fitness class, find your nearest PureGym here.