9 Quick and Effective Exercise Programs for Busy Moms
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I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to find time to workout. Between working from home, homeschool, toddlers, teething, cleaning the house, and cooking meals I barely have time to sit down. To make it harder, I had been firmly in the “too busy/tired/stressed/unmotivated to work out” camp for years. I’d try to walk as much as I could, and convinced myself that was enough, but it definitely wasn’t. And…I’m not a runner. Whatever the opposite of a runner is, that’s me (a sloth? A turtle?). So I put together this list of at home exercise programs for busy moms…I hope it helps!
Fitness is a touchy subject for me…maybe for some of you, too. See, when I had my first daughter, at the ripe old age of 21, I had visions of sliding back into my size 8 jeans and heading home from the hospital (we had our baby at home, but the hospital image stuck with me). Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I was in maternity clothes, then size 12 clothes, then size 10…and then I got pregnant again. I kept up this pattern for 9 years, until I found Trim Healthy Mama. (I have tons of THM meal plans and recipes available if you need some ideas!).
I’m very pleased with my progress on THM, but I know some of it is attributed to the fact that I started exercising regularly. I tried working out without THM and got very few measurable results. Then I tried THM without working out and had some success. But when I combined regular exercise with THM I saw the best results. I went from a tight size 12 to a loose size 6…edging in on a size 4 now. I’m leaner than I was in high school, and I feel fantastic. My BMI went from 25.5 (overweight) to 21 (normal), and I love the way I feel. Here are my top picks for busy moms who need to squeeze those workouts in without going to the gym:
Best All-Around Fitness Program (My #1 Pick that I’ve gone through more than once!) : Trim Healthy Mama Workins.
Before Trim Healthy Mama released Workins, Moms into Fitness was my top choice. But Workins is even FASTER than Moms Into Fitness – all of the workouts take about 20 minutes. Workins has three different options based on your current fitness level (you can choose from Gentle, Steady, or Thrill Fit to customize your workout. But I KNOW it works – I've been using it since it was released and I LOVE IT! You definitely get so much value! You can read more about my experience with Workins here: Full Workins Review
My second choice:
Pretty Fierce Moms Into Fitness by Lindsay Brin
This program reaped best results in the least amount of time for me. I started with Pretty Fierce Weight Loss, then moved on to Pretty Fierce Lean Out to lose my last 5-10 pounds.
- Most workouts (all but 2) are under 40 minutes…some are as short 9
- The program includes HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, which have gotten the best results for me by far.
- The anaerobic exercises in this program fit very well with the recommendations of the Trim Healthy Mama authors.
- This program gets results! I’ve spoken to many other moms at varying fitness levels, and everyone I know has gotten results from this program.
- The workouts are challenging…yes, that is a positive thing!
- The 11 discs (some of them with more than one workout) provide a variety of workouts to keep things exciting
- Both Disc sets and digital downloads are available
- If you buy the program, Moms into Fitness will email a calendar telling you which workouts to do every day.
- Two levels available: Pretty Fierce Weight Loss (Intermediate/Hard), and Pretty Fierce Lean Out (Extremely Hard)
- Equipment is required (one light set of weights and one heavy set, plus a medicine ball. I use 8 lb weights for my light set and 10 or 12 lb weights for my heavy set. Watch yard sales and thrift stores instead of paying full price for these! )
- This program is hard. Seriously. I really struggled at first with Pretty Fierce Weight Loss, but as the program went on I mastered it and started to feel really good about my endurance levels. With Pretty Fierce Lean Out, they start you off with a 55 minute endurance workout that had me panting in a sweaty heap on the floor (this kind of long workout isn’t necessarily recommended by Trim Healthy Mama, but it’s only included a few times in the program).
- This program is not for you if you’ve given birth within the past six months! They want you completely healed and starting to get into shape before you start an intense program like this one.
- This program is pricey! Pretty Fierce Weight Loss is $59.99 and Pretty Fierce Lean Out is $79.99. BUT I never paid full price for either set! I got them both on BabySteals.com. I had to wait a few weeks for BabySteals to offer it, but I know they’ve offered the sets more than once. You can also check Amazon or eBay for used sets (use caution if you don’t buy them brand new). **Update May 2015 – they have digital downloads available for lots of workouts at the Moms Into Fitness website for much cheaper!!**
Now that I’ve told you what I do to stay in shape, I’ll go over some other busy-mom-friendly workout programs that I’ve tried:
T-Tapp – I would likely be verbally bludgeoned by T-Tapp fans if I didn’t mention this Trim Healthy Mama Facebook group favorite. Tons of women swear by it, and I tried it for one month. Maybe one month isn’t long enough to get a good feel for it, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. There are short workouts available, and there are amazing T-Tapp results posted every day online. For me, I just didn’t see results. But many women claim amazing results from T-Tapp. I think T-Tapp is great for women just getting into exercise. This is definitely an effective program, I'm just pretty sure I do it wrong!
Fit2B – This is a gentle, easy introduction to exercising. There are workouts for kids, pregnant women, postpartum women, and anyone else. These are digital, so they are good for traveling. There are some pretty easy exercises here, and the workouts start at less than 10 minutes and range to above 30 minutes, so it’s great time-wise. You can get a basic monthly membership for $9.99/month, or $99.00 for a year, which, when you think about it, isn’t as cost effective as buying a set DVDs. However, there is a huge variety of workouts on this site so it might be worth it for you. I tried it for several months until I was ready to move on to something more challenging.
Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred: I like this program, but I get bored too easily. So when I tried this one, I loved that the workouts were 20 minutes, and I loved that I could feel that I was working hard, but several days in I was bored and unmotivated to continue…that might say more about me than it does about the program! Another great thing about 30-Day Shred is the cost. Brand new on Amazon it’s $9.50.
Turbo Jam : This one is fun, and great for beginners! I did Turbo Jam for about a month, just to maintain what I’d already lost with Pretty Fierce. It’s fun and fast (workouts range from 20 – 40 minutes), and the time flies by. Mostly cardio but still great. One of the negatives of this is the modesty issue – you may want to exercise without your kids around if you do this program. This is not a super hard workout, but it will get your heart pumping. I got mine used on Craigslist for pretty cheap.
BurstFit with Dr. Josh Axe: This set includes 7 workouts at about 23 minutes each. They are HIIT workouts, which is great, and works well with the recommendations for exercise in Trim Healthy Mama. I didn’t work up much of a sweat with these, but they are great quick little workouts for beginners or for maintenance.
Focus 25: I was so excited to try T-25, but it was a big let down for me. I didn’t lose any weight or inches. It is a 25 minute program, and if you’re able to try before you buy you might find that you like it. It’s a good length for busy moms, but I personally didn’t love it. I think that may have been because Pretty Fierce Lean Out already had me doing more intense exercises, and the T-25 felt a little easier to me. You do work up a good sweat! I would say this one is intermediate level, and most effective for cardio.
Another great place to find workouts is YouTube. And the workouts are free! Like Trim Healthy Mama suggests, I stick with anaerobic exercise and there are tons of free workout videos there (I don't like to search YouTube with my kids in the room because some of the stuff that comes up is pretty yucky, as my 5 year old says, especially when you're searching for workout videos). My favorite from YouTube is fitness blender.com. Again, the dress here is sporty with the women wearing sports bras and shorts, so be aware.
Those are the workouts that I’ve tried that fit into my schedule…which is basically early in the morning before work phone calls start coming in and before the kids get up to start school. My ideal workout time is 20-40 minutes, and I’m more often able to fit in the 20 minute workouts. I’ve tried a fair amount of workouts that I truly didn’t like and couldn’t continue, but these are the ones that I stuck to for awhile. I’m obviously very biased towards Moms Into Fitness because those workouts fit my schedule and I’ve really loved the results.
I think the key to sticking to a workout program or schedule is to find the one that works for you. When I’m hunting for a good workout program I read reviews online, then start asking around to see if family or friends own DVDs that I can try. I never paid full price for any of the products I mentioned above, which definitely helps! I hunted them down on eBay, Amazon, BabySteals, or Craigslist. Used DVD sets can be great as long as there are no scratches and the sellers can guarantee that the DVDs work.
Have you found a workout program that you love? How do you fit it in? I’d love to hear what works for you, whether you’re just getting started or if you’re further in your journey to being fit!
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The Best Free Workouts for Busy Moms
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Great info here! Thanks Mama!
Thanks for this! I am a gym exerciser, just can’t seem to focus at home, but you have me curious about Moms into Fitness. I’ve never heard of it before. I love to lift weights, hate running, love (and hate) HIIT. I am totally with you on the T-Tapp, though I’m willing to be more blunt. I thought it was useless and has a strange cultish following. I am more convinced by Callanetics, but I never seem to stick with it or Pilates to see results. It just doesn’t seem like I am doing enough, I guess. I am working my way through Lean and Lovely, bought online from Eat, Lift, and Be Happy right now, which you could do at home with a few kettlebells. I bought TurboJam at a garage sale and have never pulled it out to do it!
TurboJam is fun! I know what you mean about Pilates, I just can’t stick with it long enough to make it work. I hope you find something that works for you!
mama thanks i have 3 kids 10 6 4months
Wow, some of yours are similar in age to mine. It can be hard to fit things in when you have little ones around!
I am having great results with AthleanXX for Women.
The workouts are 30 minutes or less and INTENSE!
You need a long step, small hand-weight set, resistance bands and an exercise ball. A jump rope is recommended, but I don’t use one. I also purchased 97 cent timers from Walmart for some of the challenges.
You can purchase AthleanXX for Women as an electronic program that you play through your computer (which is what I do) or as a disc set with hard copy tools. I think I paid $80, lifetime membership.
I’m trying to be a THM Mama, so I don’t follow the food end of AthleanXX, just the exercise program. I’m a Diet Technician and my husband is a Dietitian and agree that the THM plan is great for aerobic and core strengthening exercises. With AltheanXX, you can track your progress online and you can modify to your needs. LOVE THAT!
Hope that helps someone.
Hey, Tina, thanks for the tip! I’ll have to look at AthleanXX, I’ve never heard of it before, but it sounds like exactly the kind of program that will work for us.
My husband has been doing AthleanX for years and he looks great.
He has strengthened his core and hardly ever has back problems anymore.
I’m not a fan of some of the music in it, but I can turn it down now that I know what to expect.
The ladies aren’t dressed too immodestly either…another plus.
All in all I am pleased with this program.
I can’t say that I LIKE to exercise….I rather HATE it. But I need to do it all the same and the sooner it’s done in the day the better. = )
Has anyone here ever tried P90x3? I know the original P90x was long and difficult. I got the new P90x3 and the workouts are all about 30 min long and each day is a diff focus such as resistance, flexibility, core, yoga, strength, agility anyway I found it to be less boring due to the change up. Also only uses basic equipment that anyone doing these other workouts prob already own. It progressively gets harder and you’d work up to doing pull-ups a good bit later and would need a pull-up bar. Only piece of equipment I purchased. I haven’t gotten that far yet tho. Just curious as to if anyone else has done it with good results?
Hi Micki! It’s funny you mention that; I’m halfway through P90X3 right now! I’m trying it out to see if it’s something I can recommend or not. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Before THM I utilized BeachBody’s Slim in 6 (only the ‘start it up’ section) and lost 18 pounds not changing my eating habits at all. HOWEVER, since I’ve aged a few years I cannot duplicate those results by simply exercising. Thank you for sharing your menus and and exercise ideas with us.
Wow, Nancy, I’m impressed! If I don’t eat well, it doesn’t matter what exercise program I’m doing because I won’t lose a pound. I did P90X without changing my eating habits and while I could do 60 push-ups at a time, I didn’t lose any weight at all, and only a few inches. I’m not familiar with Slim in 6 but now I want to check it out!
Have you ever tried Faithful Workouts? Just wanted to throw another option out there in case you haven’t heard of them. I’m like you & not a huge fan of T-Tapp, but keep wanting to give it another try because so many people seem to benefit from it. I always return to Faithful Workouts though because I love variety & all the different videos she continues to post. They also always keep it modest & that’s a must for this family. 😉
I’ve never tried that one! Thanks for the suggestion; I’ll check it out!
Have you heard of the Betty Rocker exercise program? My friend tried and lost 20 pounds. She loves it!
Thank you for your time to help your fellow sisters!
Hi Ce Ce, thanks! I haven’t tried that one, but I’ll check it out so I can review it! Thanks for the tip. 🙂
Don’t forget to check at your local library for exercise info. A found a book of 15-minute exercise programs and DVDs on almost anything you could possible want to try. Since they can be checked out for 1-3 weeks, I rotate through different types of exercise whenever I have to return one to the librarry.
I hate exercise. Reason being that it takes a huge amount of it to even help me lose even a small amount of weight, and then most of them to me are boring.
I found the most fun one however about a year ago and I love it. Its called Body Groove. It is Free Style Dancing and each segment is 30 min or less.