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Pick-a-stick Workout

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We all have those weeks where it’s tough to find either the time or the motivation to work out. Whether you’re slammed at work, between training schedules, overwhelmed at home, trying to get back in the groove or just on the road and out of your usual routine, removing the obstacle of having to choose your workout makes it more likely that you’ll actually get to the working out part.

But all you need for this is a few items — and virtually no equipment — so it’s easy to do in the comfort of your home or hotel room. And if you don’t want to pack the sticks while traveling, you can print out the list below and choose numbers instead of colors to create the day’s combination.

When you just need a quickie sweat session, simply pull one stick of each color and perform the moves. Or if you want a longer challenge, repeat the set of four exercises a few times, depending on how much time you have. And if you really want to mix things up, get crazy and pull several sticks of each color for a more varied total-body workout.

What you need:

  • 40 Popsicle sticks
  • 5 permanent markers, each a different color (black, red, green, blue, yellow, for example)
  • 2 Mason jars or cups

How to do it:

  1. Divide the Popsicle sticks into four groups of 10, and color the ends of each group of sticks with a different colored marker (so when you’re done, you’ll have 10 sticks tagged with red, 10 sticks with green, 10 sticks with blue and 10 sticks with yellow)
  2. Assign one color to each of the exercise groups (i.e. red = upper body, green = lower body, blue = core, and yellow = cardio)
  3. Take the black marker and write a corresponding exercise on each stick — refer to the list below for some ideas, but if you have other favorites, feel free to swap them in
  4. Put all the sticks (colored ends up) in one jar labeled “Do it!” And when you’re ready for a workout, just grab one stick of each color.
  5. Once the workout is complete, place the used sticks in the second jar labeled “Done!”

Exercise ideas:

Upper Body

  • 25 Standard Push-Ups
  • 25 Diamond Push-Ups (tips of thumbs and index fingers touch)
  • 20 Push-Ups with Side Arm Balance (alternate sides)
  • 20 Plank Up-Downs (alternating arms)
  • 15 Lateral Raises (using dumbbells, water bottles or cans)
  • 20 Incline/Decline Push-Ups (elevate feet for 10, elevate hands for 10)
  • 15 Bent-Over Rows (using dumbbells, water bottles or cans)
  • 15 Hammer Curls (using dumbbells, water bottles or cans)
  • 25 Tricep Dips

Lower Body

  • 30 Walking Lunges (alternating legs)
  • 40 Squats
  • 60-second Wall Sit
  • 30 Reverse Lunges (alternating legs)
  • 30 Calf Raises (10 each with toes facing in, straight, out)
  • 30 Side Lunges (15 each side)
  • 40 Plie/Sumo Squats
  • 50 One-Legged Dead Lifts (25 each side)
  • 50 Donkey Kicks (25 each side)
  • 30 Curtsy Lunges (15 each side)

Core

  • 60-second High Plank (arms straight under shoulders)
  • 20 Mountain Climbers
  • 60-second Superman
  • 30-second Side Plank (each side)
  • 50 Crunches
  • 50 Bicycles (25 each side)
  • 60-second Low Plank (on elbows)
  • 45-second Flutter Kick
  • 15 Sliding Pikes (with towel under feet on uncarpeted floor)
  • 30 Bird Dogs (on knees, lift opposite arm and opposite leg)

Cardio

  • 25 Burpees
  • 60 Jumping Jacks
  • 40 Stair Hop-Ups (jump up with both feet onto one step)
  • 50 High Knees (jog in place, bringing knees as high as possible)
  • 50 Butt Kicks (touch heel to glute)
  • 90-second Stairs (time yourself running up and down a flight)
  • 15 Tuck Jumps (bringing both legs to chest)
  • 20 Squat Jumps (squat, then jump as high as you can)
  • 25 Lunge Jumps (lunge, then jump into the air and switch legs)
  • 30-second Single Leg Hops (each side; jump back and forth over an object, such as a towel)

Of course, the disclaimer: Always check with your physician to get the go-ahead before you start any new exercise program!

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