These muscle-building New Year's resolutions take less than 10 minutes a day

A personal trainer gives 10 ideas for strengthening fitness resolutions that take just minutes a day

Woman at home timing herself performing new fitness resolution
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Setting New Year's resolutions is a great way to make progress on your health and fitness goals, but many people struggle to stick with them. We are often overly ambitious, choosing goals that are too time-consuming or energy-intensive.

The good news is you can set mini fitness resolutions to build muscle with little bursts of exercise that take less than 10 minutes per day. Plus, even if you don’t have access to a gym or don’t own weights or the best resistance bands (opens in new tab), there are plenty of bodyweight strengthening exercises you can do right at home. 

To learn more about setting – and keeping – fitness resolutions, we spoke with Allan Misner, an NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Coach, and host of the 40+ Fitness Podcast

Allan Misner
Allan Misner

Allan Misner (aka Coach Allan) is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach, a FAI Certified Functional Aging Specialist, and a OTA Level II Online Coach. He is the host the 40+ Fitness Podcast, which is the largest and longest-running health and fitness podcast for people over 40, and the author The Wellness Roadmap: A Straightforward Guide to Health and Fitness Over 40

1: Coming-and-going wall sits

Woman doing wall sit exercises

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Misner suggests that before you leave for work or school, do three to five rounds of wall sits. Do another set when you arrive home. This isometric exercise (an exercise in which your muscles are contracting without moving, as in a plank) works your quadriceps (front of the thighs) and it is generally easy on the knees.

How to do it:

“To do wall sits, find an open wall. Work into a squat with your back against the wall. Your thigh and shin should form a right angle, with your thigh should be parallel to the floor,” Misner explains. “Hold yourself in this position for 30 seconds, then take a 60-second break before doing another round.”

2: Social media slow bodyweight squats

Woman doing squats

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Each time you feel the desire to check any of your social media accounts, do five slow bodyweight squats. That way, you have to earn it and you get in some muscle-building work!

“The squat works your quadriceps (front of thighs) and glutes (butt),” says Misner. “As an added bonus, you’ll probably spend less time on social media.”

How to do it:

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower down into a squat while ensuring that your knees track out toward the toes.
  • At the bottom position, your hip crease should be below your knees.  

“Instead of doing these squats with a normal cadence, do it slow. Start with four seconds down and four seconds up,” suggests Misner. “Try to work up to ten seconds. By going slow, you put the muscles under tension for a longer period of time, which helps build strength.” 

3: Afternoon squat jumps

Man doing squat jumps at home

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Once an hour during the afternoon between the hours of 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, do five squat jumps. “The squat jump builds power in the legs, particularly the quadriceps and glutes,” says Misner. “These quick bursts during the afternoon will also help you beat the afternoon lull without caffeine, which can disturb sleep later.” 

How to do it:

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower down into a squat while ensuring you sit your hips back so your knees do not come forward beyond your toes.
  • Quickly come up with a jump or hop. 
  • Be sure to land with your knees still slightly bent (soft knees).  

4: Parking lot walking lunges

Woman lunging while pushing pram

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Many health and fitness professionals offer the weight loss tip to park further away from where you work or shop to get in more steps, and this mini muscle-building fitness resolution is a new twist on that classic advice.

“The walking lunge works the hamstrings (back of the legs), glutes (butt muscles), and quadriceps (front of the legs),” explains Misner. “Depending on how many you do, it can also get your heart rate up a bit.”

How to do it:

  • Take a longer than usual step and allow your back knee to drop into a lunge almost touching the ground underneath you. 
  • Try to get ten good lunge steps (five on each side).
  • Then, walk normally for a few steps before doing another set.  

It is a bonus if you’re lunging while carrying your shopping bags out! 

5: TV commercial glute bridges

Woman doing glute bridges

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If you’re watching standard television, you can use the commercial breaks as a cue to get up and get in some muscle-building exercise by doing glute bridges, which work your butt muscles. Misner suggests that if you’re watching a streaming service that doesn’t have commercials, set a timer for 10 minutes. Each time the timer goes off, pause the show and do two minutes of the glute bridges before resuming the show.

How to do it:

  • If you have a coffee table, push it away from the couch or chair to make room.
  • Each time a commercial comes on, sit on the floor in front of the couch or chair with your upper back resting against the seat cushion.
  • Bending your knees, bring your feet toward you until they are flat on the floor.
  • Lift your butt up to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders, which should be resting on the seat cushion.
  • Lower your butt toward the ground, then press up using your glutes (butt muscles).
  • Focus on keeping your heels pressed to the ground.
  • Continue doing bridges until the commercial ends. For more of a burn, try doing unsupported bridges (as shown above) for the full duration.

6: Waterboy push-ups

Man doing push-up at home

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You can double down on your health New Year’s resolution by coupling drinking more water with doing more exercise. 

“You’ve probably heard that you should be drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Each time you drink 8-ounces, stop and do five pushups,” suggests Misner. “The push-up works the chest, triceps (back of the arms), and core. The shoulders are also involved as they stabilize your upper body as you go through the movement.” 

How to do it:

  • Starting on your hands and knees, move your legs back until your body is straight from your heels to your head. You’ll be on your toes and your hands.
  • Keep your head facing down to keep it in alignment with the spine. This is a high plank position.
  • Lower your body until your chest touches (or is very close) to the floor and press back up.

Note that if a regular pushup is too hard, you can put your knees down on the ground, making a straight line from the back of your knees to your head and do knee push-ups. If that is still too hard, you can place your hands against a wall. 

7: TV commercial crab walks

Young woman doing crab walk at home

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In addition to doing glute bridges during TV commercials, you can mix it up by doing crab walks. This challenging muscle-building works the triceps, forearms, back, hamstrings (back of thighs), and core.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the floor with your hands on the ground behind you, with your fingers facing forward (toward your butt).
  • Bending your knees, bring your feet toward you until they are flat on the floor.
  • Lift your butt slightly off the floor.
  • From this starting position, crab walk around the room. You can go forward, sideways, or backwards.
  • Keep going for the entire commercial break or at least two minutes. 

8: Microwave shoulder circles

Woman standing with arms out to side

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Misner has a great idea for a muscle-building fitness New Year’s resolution for anyone who uses the microwave to heat up food (though you can do the same thing while you toast food or wait for water to boil!) 

“Each time you use a microwave either to warm up a meal or pop some popcorn, instead of just watching it spin with the timer slowly counting to zero, do some shoulder circles,” he suggests. “This works your shoulder muscles, and it also helps with shoulder mobility and posture.” 

How to do it:

  • Standing tall with your feet chest-width apart, raise your arms to the side forming a letter T. 
  • Do small circles to the front for 20 seconds, then small circles to the back for 20 seconds.
  • Do large circles to the front for 20 seconds, and large circles to the back for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 20 seconds and repeat until the microwave dings. 

9: Breaks and planks

Man doing plank exercise at home

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“Most of us take a morning break, a lunch break, and an afternoon break,” notes Misner. “Besides using this time to get outside, which is highly recommended, take a minute and do a plank to work your core.”

How to do it:

  • Place your forearms on the ground and move your legs back until your body is straight from your heels to your head. You’ll be on your toes and your forearms.
  • Keep your head facing down to keep it in alignment with the spine. 
  • Hold this full plank position for up to one minute. 
  • Make sure you keep your core tight and your body aligned from heels to your head. 

10: Commute capper cycle crunches

Man doing bicycle crunches at home

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Before you head out for work, and as soon as you get in, do some quick core work. Even if you work from home, you can take a minute before your “commute” to your work space to do a few bicycle crunches to work your abs, specifically the rectus abdominis (“six-pack” muscle) and obliques (muscles on the sides of your torso). 

How to do it:

  • Lie flat on your back. Lace your fingers together behind your head for support. Misner says to think of your arms forming big ears on either side of your head.
  • Lift both feet slightly off the floor. 
  • Bring one knee back and twisting at the torso, bring your opposite elbow toward that knee in a twisting crunch of the abdomen.
  • Straighten that leg while you simultaneously bend the other leg and twist your torso to the other side in another twisting crunch.
  • Do this slowly and controlled for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat for three rounds.  

Do three rounds before you go to work, and three rounds when you return home from work.

Misner shares how to work these mini muscle-building fitness resolutions into your routine: “Ideally, you’d work a few of these muscle building fitness resolutions into each day and switch them up throughout the week based on your schedule. Over the course of the week, you can work every major muscle with these micro workouts.”

Do mini fitness resolutions work?

Misner says that one of the biggest struggles that people have getting fit is starting, but even little bouts of muscle-strengthening exercise can improve your fitness. 

“In our hectic lives, it may seem almost impossible to set aside 30 minutes or more to get in a workout. That’s why implementing micro workouts can be a great strategy to build muscle without a huge time commitment,” he notes. 

“Most people who struggle to start a fitness program point to a lack of motivation as the cause, but that’s not how motivation works. Motivation is built by doing first. That might seem a little counterintuitive, but when we do something good for ourselves, our internal reward system fires. This drives us to keep going. That’s what makes these short muscle building-fitness resolutions so powerful. The quick and easy workouts build your internal motivation, which will keep you going until you reach your fitness goals.”

In other words, starting small with these little commitments to get in short bursts of strengthening exercises throughout the day can help you build the momentum and motivation to keep doing more activity.