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Fitness for Couch Potatoes

Tune in and tone up with our TV-watching workout

Muscle Up

But don't stop there. You can do many types of strength training in front of the television, says Pat Woellert, fitness instructor at University Fitness at the University of Cincinnati.

Using resistance tubing or dumbbells (or even books, or cans of soup), do upper-body exercises while seated on a chair. Some to try:

  • Bicep curls
  • Overhead shoulder presses
  • Side arm raises
  • Front arm raises
  • Triceps extensions

Lying on the floor, do side-lying leg raises for the outer hip and inner thigh, with or without weights. Sitting up on the floor, use resistance bands to do seated rows (pretend you're rowing a boat).

To get the most out of your prime-time workout, do something different every day, suggests Lynne Brick, BSN, president and owner of Brick Bodies and Lynne Brick's Women's Health & Fitness in Baltimore. Fitness pros call this cross-training. The rest of us just call it variety.

"Do the things you like to do," says Brick. Perhaps a stationary bike on Monday, abdominal crunches on Tuesday, treadmill on Wednesday, jog in place on Thursday, hand weights on Friday.

The Workout

To get started, try this TV-watcher's workout devised by Petras, which is good even for beginners:

TV Twist


  • Seated on the floor
  • Legs extended in V-position
  • Arms out to your sides, shoulder level

Exercise: Sitting tall, twist to your right, then reach your left hand beyond your right foot. Come up and do the other side.

Benefits: Stretches and lengthens torso, stretches back of legs, strengthens abs.

Kick, Kick, Kick


  • Facedown on the floor, legs extended
  • Prop up on your elbows, abs tight
  • Elbows in line with your shoulders

Exercise: Right foot flexed, bend your knee and try to kick your rear three times (kick, kick, kick, and down). Do the other side.

Benefits: Tones buttocks and hamstring muscles.

Prop-Up Abs


  • Facedown on the floor, legs extended
  • Prop up on your elbows, abs tight
  • Elbows in line with your shoulders

Exercise: Try to lift your body from the floor using your abs, supported by forearms and toes.

Benefits: Strengthens abs and upper body.

Prime-Time Pushup


  • Facedown on the floor, legs extended
  • Hands in line with chest, a bit wider than shoulder-width apart

Exercise: Use your arms to push up. Hold briefly, and come down.

Benefits: Strengthens arms and lower back.

Commercial Crunches


  • Lying on your back
  • Feet propped up on a chair
  • Hands behind your head for support

Exercise: Inhale to prepare, then exhale as you lift your head and upper shoulders. Feel the abs, and keep your lower back to the floor.

Variation: Add a twist to each side.

Benefits: Strengthens abs.

Credit Curl-Downs


  • Lying on your back
  • Feet propped up on a chair
  • Arms down by your sides for support

Exercise: Lift your hips off the floor; hold the position for a moment. Then slowly lower hips, one vertebra at a time.

Benefits: Lengthens spine, releases tension from lower back.

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