Sneaky Exercises to Do While Brushing Your Teeth

You should brush for two minutes. Just enough time to get stronger with these five moves.
Published May 14, 2018

​Ask some of the fittest people in the world how they manage to fit in their daily recommended exercise, and they’ll tell you that everything you do adds up. Luckily you can actually sneak in fitness everywhere. Time spent brushing your teeth, commuting, working, daydreaming, or even cooking could also be calorie-burning time. Even in the bathroom? Yes, even there.

We tapped Michael Blauner, a New Jersey–based personal trainer and an at-home workout expert for five simple moves you can do with zero equipment during the two minutes you’re brushing your teeth. Try one move each workday for the full two minutes, or mix and match moves until you’re done brushing. Ready, set, brush!

Monday: Static Wall Squat

How you’ll spend your 2 minutes: 15–30 seconds of movement, 10 seconds of rest; repeat for time.

Why do it: This move passively works your butt and leg muscles—glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. And unlike some other exercises, this isometric, or static, exercise is lower impact on your body.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart a foot or two from wall, while resting your hips and back flat against it, so your straight legs are about 45 degrees to the floor.
  • Slide your back and hips down the wall as you lower your hips toward the floor, until your thighs are close to parallel to the floor, as if you were sitting in a chair.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles, feet, knees, and thighs as you hold this position. Breathe to maintain this position for 15–30 seconds. Return to start to rest for 10 seconds.

Tuesday: Box Squats on Toilet Top

How you’ll spend your 2 minutes: 30 seconds of movement, 10 seconds of rest; repeat for time.

Why do it: A box squat helps you get lower into a squat than you may normally but keeps you from going too far and losing emphasis on the working muscles.

How to do it: “You’ll use the closed toilet seat as a marker of where to stop—since you’re nearby anyway!” says Blauner. Challenge yourself to see how lightly you can touch the seat (rather than thudding down) before returning to start.

  • Stand about a foot away from a closed toilet seat cover, facing away, feet about hip-width apart, with toes turned out slightly.
  • Resist the urge to bend your knees to initiate this move. Instead, slowly press your hips back and down first, while keeping your chest up, to lower your hips toward the seat cover.
  • Note: Make sure that your knees are always tracking right over your toes but never past them. Many people’s knees will ‘cave inward’ as they lower. Be sure to press your knees outward as you lower and rise, Blauner advises.
  • Pause as little as possible at the bottom, and squeeze your glutes and push through your heels to return to start.

Wednesday: Pelvic Tilts with Glute Contractions

How you’ll spend your 2 minutes: 30 seconds of movement, 10 seconds of rest; repeat for time.

Why do it: This micro-movement is excellent for small spaces yet works your glutes and hips flexors well.

How to do it:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly.
  • While focusing your mind on your glutes and abdominal muscles, slowly tilt your pelvis under you and then tilt it back. Continue forward and back, slowly.
  • For an added challenge, squat lower.

 Thursday: Side Lunges

How you’ll spend your 2 minutes: 10–12 reps on each side; repeat 2–3 times.

Why do it: This great move works some very underserved but much-used muscles: your gluteus medius. That is the muscle on each side of your butt that helps you place weight on one leg (while walking or running), abduct the leg (lifting out to side), or rotate it. Weakness here can lead to gait imbalances like hip drop as well as pain in the lower back, hip, or knee.

How to do it:

  • Remove bathroom rugs and stand where you have enough space to step out to one side, about four feet so that you have room.
  • Stand with feet hip width, then slowly lift your right leg, squeezing glutes) and step your right foot out to the side about three feet as your set your hips back, bending your right knee and straightening your left knee. Keep your chest up as you lower until right thigh is parallel to floor.
  • Note: Keep your mind focused on your muscles, as if sitting back into a chair on one leg. Plus, make sure your knee is tracking directly over your toes but doesn’t go past them or cave inward/outward.
  • Engage your stomach and glutes, and power through the heel of your right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat with same leg for reps. Switch sides.

Friday: Biceps Curls with Shampoo Bottle

How you’ll spend your 2 minutes: 10–12 reps on each side; repeat 2–3 times.

Why do it: Our upper body muscles deserve some TLC; especially the arms. Biceps, the muscles in the front of the upper arm, help us push and pull things.

How to do it: Move slowly through this movement to increase your muscles’ time under tension, which will help you get stronger, even though the bottle might be lightweight.

  • Grab a full bottle of shampoo and hold it in your nonbrushing hand at your thigh, palm facing forward.
  • Slowly curl the bottle toward your shoulder for a count of 8, then slowly lower the bottle using a count of 8 to extend the arm. Continue on one side for reps, then switch sides.