4 Sneaky Ways to Get Exercise While You Cook

These moves will help you gain strength while you get dinner on the table.
Published July 24, 2018

Sometimes the day gets away from us, and by dinnertime we still haven’t moved as much as we wanted to. Luckily, getting stronger can be a multitasking activity. The following four fast no-equipment exercises can be done right in your kitchen, so the 15 to 20 minutes you’re stuck at the stove become a perfect time for this low-impact workout.

For the best idle-time ideas, we called on personal trainer Katie Austin, who is an influencer on Instagram and daughter of fitness icon Denise Austin. Here are her four favorite exercises to do while cooking.


The 15-Minute Bodyweight Workout

Do these moves any time you have to wait for things to cook or while chopping and stirring. 

Exercise                                  Time/Reps      Sets
Static lunges       30 seconds    2–3 on each leg
Arm circles   15–30 seconds    2–3 with each arm
Side + back leg lifts 10–15 in each position 2–3 on each leg
Push-ups on kitchen counter 6–12 2–3


Exercise Descriptions

Static Lunges

Targeted muscles: Legs, butt, and abs

  • Stand with your right side closer to the stove (i.e., perpendicular to it rather than facing it), with left foot forward, right leg back on ball of your foot, and weight balanced between the two.
  • Engage your glutes and abdominal muscles and slowly lower your right knee toward the floor while bending your left knee until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. This is the bottom position.
  • Quickly raise halfway to the standing position, then lower back to bottom, then return to standing. Repeat on same leg for 30 seconds. Switch legs.


Arm Circles

Targeted muscles: Upper back, shoulders, and abs

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, abdominals tight, with arm straight out to the side. Hold a filled water bottle if you would like to add weight to this exercise.
  • Move the arm in a clockwise circle for 15 seconds, then reverse direction for 15 seconds. For more of a challenge, move arm in slightly bigger circles to increase time under tension.
  • Repeat with opposite arm.


Side + Back Leg Lifts

Targeted muscles: Legs, butt, and abs

  • Stand facing the stove with your weight on your left foot, right foot pointed out to side with its top facing stove (not ceiling).
  • Use your butt and abdominal muscles to slowly lift right foot up as high as you can without swinging or using momentum. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps, concentrating on contracting your glutes throughout.
  • Move your leg so that your right foot is pointed behind you.
  • Contract your butt muscles to slowly lift your leg up for 10 to 15 reps. The movement will not be a big one.
  • Switch sides, placing weight on right foot and lifting left leg.


Push-Ups on Kitchen Counter

Targeted muscles: Back, chest, core, and arms
Note: Remove floor rugs and counter obstructions.

  • Place both hands on the edge of a clean, dry countertop, no more than shoulder-width apart. Step feet back about 3 feet until your body forms a diagonal straight line from the top of the head to the heels 45 to 60 degrees to the floor with your arms straight. This is the top of the push-up.
  • Bend elbows to lower chest toward the counter while keeping your body straight and elbows close to your sides. Avoid flaring elbows out and craning your neck up.
  • Contract chest muscles to help press your chest away from the counter. Straighten arms to return to the top. Maintain the straight line from your ears to your heels as you repeat for 6 to 12 reps.


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