19 Exercises You Can Literally Do Without Leaving Your Bed

updated Sep 16, 2022
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Woman stretching in bed.
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Ever have a day where you plan to get in a morning workout, but when the time comes, the thought of getting out of bed feels basically impossible? If you still want to fit in some kind of movement, you can actually do some exercises without leaving your bed. (No, not that kind of exercise, although one study showed sex can burn about 3.6 calories per minute for women.) 

While many trainers and fitness experts might balk at the idea of you doing a workout on your mattress, we rounded up a few who have suggestions to get the blood flowing, stretch you out, and do a little bit of toning without changing out of your PJs.

Consider this your “better than nothing workout.” It shouldn’t be your only workout plan — it’s more about getting blood flowing and stretching your body out a bit. You can also do all of these exercises on a yoga mat or on the floor. 

Worried that a pre-bedtime workout might interfere with sleep? That’s more likely with an intense cardio workout, as your body temperature needs to drop to help you ease into sleep. If you’re doing stretches with muscles that haven’t been warmed up, remember to be gentle and don’t push too hard to avoid injury. If you’re looking to get in a bit of physical activity before you get out of bed, here are 19 exercises you can do right where you are. 

Work Your Butt, Abs, and Then Stretch!

1. Butterfly Bridges

Lie on your back with your knees bent, and then place the bottoms of your feet together with knees open (like butterfly wings), arms by your side and palms pressed into the mattress. Drive the feet into the bed and lift your hips up while keeping your knees wide apart. Lower down but before your butt touches the bed, drive your hips back up again. Aim for 20 to 30 reps.

2. Lateral Leg Lifts

Lie on the left side of your body, left knee bent and foot behind you, supporting your head propped up with your left hand. Keeping your hips stacked and right leg straight extending through the heel, lift up the right leg towards the ceiling. Lower down and before the right leg makes contact with the left leg, raise the leg back up. Perform 20 to 30 reps on one side and flip over to repeat on the other side. 

3. V-Up

Lie on your back with enough room behind you so arms can extend overhead and legs are straight out in front of you. Lift your lower and upper body simultaneously so that your hands meet your toes. Lower down and repeat for 15 to 20 reps. Position yourself perpendicular to your mattress if you need more room.

4. Leg Raises

Lie on your back, hands underneath your butt, palms pressing down on the mattress, legs straight in the air, perpendicular to the bed. Brace your core and lower your right leg towards the bed. Before it touches the mattress, raise it back up to the starting position. Alternate legs for one rep. Aim for 20 to 30 reps. 

5. Twisting Plank

Start in a forearm plank position (on your elbows, body raised off the bed). Brace your core and drop your hips toward the right. Lift them back up to center and drop the hips toward the left. That’s one rep. Make sure your butt doesn’t stick up in the air and your hips don’t drop down. Your feet will naturally twist as you do. 

Because you’re on a wobbly surface on your soft mattress, this exercise might be more challenging in bed to keep your body in line. It’ll work your abs more to keep your body in line on this unstable surface. You might find it easier to do this — and any planks — on the floor if you’re a beginner. Aim for 20 reps. 

6. Happy Baby Pose

Begin lying on your back with both knees drawn in toward the chest. Grip the feet directly with your hands. You can hold the center of the foot with each hand or wrap your fingers around the big toes. Keeping your back on the mattress, gently begin to open the knees wide while gently drawing the soles of the feet toward the ceiling.

Your ankles should be in line with your knees and the legs should have bent knees but be perpendicular to the floor. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, stretching your hips and groin.

7. Supine Twist

Lie on your mattress on the right side of your body in a fetal position. Bend the knees to 90 degrees and place the arms straight in front of the right shoulder. To support your head, lie on a pillow. Inhale and lift the top arm up and rotate left to the point of comfort. Some people can open completely into a lying spinal twist. 

If you can’t open that far, rest your left hand on top of pillows stacked next to you. Let your gaze follow the left hand. Hold for 20 seconds and bring your left hand back to meet the right arm. Flip over and switch sides so you stretch the other side. —Mike Donavanik, founder of Sweat Factor

Total Body Tone and Stretch

8. Glute Bridges

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Exhale and squeeze your abs and butt to lift your hips up while pressing your heels into the mattress, inhale and slowly lower back down. Do 15 to 20 reps.

9. Child’s Pose with Mattress Hold

Turn over so your knees are directly under your hips and toes are pointed behind you with the big toes touching. Stretch your arms in front of you and grip the top of your mattress to hold the stretch while taking deep breaths. 

Allow the forehead to rest on the mattress, and exhale as you fold deeper into the pose, widening your knees as needed. Try to hold this for 5 to 10 deep breaths. This stretch is great for your back and shoulders and allows your hips to release tension.

10. Cross Ankle Hamstring Stretch

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the mattress. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh. If that stretch feels like enough, gently press on your right thigh and hold for about 20 seconds.

For a deeper hamstring (back of thighs) stretch, lift the left leg off the mattress and clasp your hands behind the top of the left thigh. You should feel the stretch in the back of your left thigh and this will help open up the right hip. After holding for a few breaths, switch sides.  —Nikki Walter, TEAM Bodybuilding.com Athlete

Work Your Abs, Stretch Your Shoulders

11. Plank

Roll over onto your stomach with elbows under your shoulders and forearms flat on the mattress. Hold your body up in the air in a forearm plank position for 30 seconds, 45 seconds, or one minute. This is more challenging work for your core on a soft surface, so hop to the floor if you’re a beginner. 

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12. Bicycle Crunch

Lie on your back, with knees in the air until your thighs align vertically to the mattress with a 90-degree angle at the hips (also called a tabletop position). Drive your right knee towards your chest in a straight line and allow the knee to bend to a deeper angle. Straighten your left leg out away from you while keeping it elevated off the floor. 

Contract your abs to curl up, lifting your left shoulder blade off the floor and rotating your trunk slowly to drive your left elbow towards your right knee that’s bent toward you. Try to bring your elbow close to the opposite knee. Make sure your low back stays on the bed. Hold and then repeat on the other side, switching the leg positions. Do 15 reps on each side.

13. Crossover Arm Stretch

Bring your right arm across the body. Use the left hand or forearm to hold the right arm in place for 15 seconds. Switch sides. This is a great stretch for the shoulders.  —David Freeman, Life Time Fitness’ National Manager, Alpha & Group Training

Credit: Kseniya Ovchinnikova / Getty Images

Start with Abs, Glutes, and Lower Back Strength; End with Hip, Spine, and Shoulder Mobility

14. Dead Bug

Start by lying on your back with your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle (tabletop position). Extend arms from your torso up so your fingertips are pointing toward the ceiling. While maintaining a neutral spine, extend your left leg fully forward while at the same time moving your right arm overhead down toward the bed. Return your arm and leg to the start position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating for 20 to 30 reps.

15. Clamshells

Lie on your side, with legs your stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Rest your head on your lower arm and use your top arm to steady your frame. Be sure that your hip bones are stacked on top of one another, as there’s a tendency for the hips to rock backward. Engage your abdominals to help stabilize the spine and pelvis. While keeping your feet together, raise your upper knee as high as you can without rocking your hips backward. Keep your lower leg on the floor. Hold for a count of two at the top of the move and then slowly lower the top leg to start position. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.

Credit: Undrey / Shutterstock

16. One-Legged Bridge

Start by lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat, and arms at your side with palms facing down. For the start position, extend one leg fully so that it is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Raise your hips off the floor until the shoulders, hips, and knees create a straight line. Hold for a count of two. Slowly return to start position while keeping the leg fully extended. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps on each side.

17. Spinal Balance

Start with your knees and hands on the bed in a quadruped position. Keep your torso in a straight line with a neutral spine and engage your abdominal muscles. Slowly raise alternating limbs (right arm and left leg) until a straight line is formed from tip of your finger to the ball of your foot. Hold for a count of two. Return to the start position and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 15 to 20 reps on each side.

Credit: Getty Images/fizkes

18. Cat Cow

Start with your knees and hands on the bed in a quadruped position, with your torso in straight line. Inhale and begin to slowly arch the spine for Cow position. Curl your toes under. Tilt your pelvis so that your tailbone points to the ceiling. Your neck is the last thing to move as you turn to look at the ceiling. Keep abdominals engaged as you pull your belly button to the spine while the torso drops toward bed. Hold for a count of two.

Exhale as you slowly round for the Cat position. Slowly move from the arched position by moving your feet flat to floor, dropping your pelvis to tuck your tailbone under, continuing to engage abdominals, and dropping your head so that you are looking toward your thighs. Hold for a count of two. Continue to move between positions for 10 breaths.

19. Arm Circles

Seated on the end of bed, extend your arms out to the side at a 90-degree angle to the body. Start by keeping your arms straight and palms facing the floor with thumbs pointing forward. Keep the arms at shoulder level and begin to make circles in a forward direction. Sit tall, engage your abdominals, and look straight ahead. After 20 reps, turn the palms to face up with thumbs pointed behind you. Keep your arms at shoulder level and begin to make circles in a backward direction. Perform 20 reps. Make circles that are about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. —Heather Giordano, MS, Senior Performance Scientist at Canyon Ranch Lenox