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21 day challenge

Our 21-Day Work-In Challenge Will Keep You Fit From Home

Quarantined with kids and can’t dedicate more than 30 minutes to sweat? Office Zoom calls overlap with your favorite livestream workouts? Stuck in a small apartment with only cans of beans as weights?

We’ve got you covered. To help you stay fit and strong through these strange and stressful times, we’re launching the 21-Day Work-In Challenge. With this three-week program, you can reach your fitness goals from anywhere, at any time.

Every workout can be completed in just 30 minutes, on YOUR schedule, and requires little space or equipment.

Things are about to get sweaty. Are you in?

What To Know About The 21-Day Work-In Challenge

The 21-Day Work-In Challenge was designed by certified personal trainer (and The Vitamin Shoppe Community Manager) Marisa Golan.

We’re officially kicking things off May 4, with a slew of intense workouts. Every day, check out our Instagram (@vitaminshoppe) for the day’s workout challenge, recovery advice, and instructions.

The workouts and instructional videos will live in our Instagram Stories for 24 hours. If you miss one, though, don’t worry! They’ll be archived in our Instagram Highlights—and you can always refer to the entire challenge schedule in this article (below).

Most of the workouts require just your bodyweight, but some utilize dumbbells or resistance bands. Don’t have these on-hand? Luckily, there are plenty of household items that can double as workout equipment. Milk jugs or books, for example, make for great DIY dumbbells.

As always, make sure you warm up before each workout—and make time to stretch afterwards. (Our Home Workouts Highlight on Instagram has plenty of quick routines you can use.)

BONUS: If you’re looking for some nutritional structure, too, we’ve provided an optional 21-Day Clean-Eating Guide to supplement your workouts.

The 21-Day Work-In Challenge Workouts

Ready to get started? Here’s the full breakdown of the workouts you’ll sweat through for the next three weeks.

Week One

DAY 1: TOTAL BODY 

CIRCUIT 1

(Complete as many rounds as possible in 6 minutes. Then, rest 1 minute and repeat once more.)

  • Walking lunges (12 reps per side)
  • Supermans with arm extensions (20 reps)
  • Tricep bench dips (12 reps)
  • Alternating reverse lunges with scarecrow arms (12 reps per side)

CIRCUIT 2

(Complete as many rounds as possible in 6 minutes. Then, rest 1 minute and repeat once more.)

  • quadruped leg and opposite arm side raises (12 reps per side)
  • marching glute bridges (12 reps per side)
  • plank walk-outs (12 reps)
  • jump squats (15 reps)

DAY 2: UPPER BODY & CORE

Equipment needed: dumbbells (or household alternatives)

CIRCUIT 1

(Complete as many rounds as possible in 6 minutes. Then, rest 1 minute and repeat once more.)

  • quadruped arm and opposite leg raises (15 reps per side)
  • Tricep push backs (12 reps)
  • Situps with cross-body punches (12 reps)
  • Kneeling bicep curls to shoulder presses (12 reps)

CIRCUIT 2

(Complete as many rounds as possible in 6 minutes. Then, rest 1 minute and repeat once more.)

  • lateral shoulder raises (12 reps)
  • upright rows (12 reps)
  • straight leg raises (15 reps)
  • bent-over rows to triceps kickbacks (12 reps)

DAY 3: LOWER BODY

Equipment needed: resistance band and dumbbells (or household alternatives)

CIRCUIT 1

(Complete 3-4 rounds, resting 20 seconds between rounds.)

  • plie squats with calf raises (40 seconds)
  • squats with alternating reverse lunges (40 seconds)
  • fire hydrants (30 seconds per side)
  • banded step-outs (40 seconds)

CIRCUIT 2

(Complete 3-4 rounds, resting 20 seconds between rounds.)

  • banded lateral squat walks (four each direction; 40 seconds)
  • walking lunges *can add weights to make harder (40 seconds)
  • Romanian deadlifts into squats (40 seconds)
  • weighted glute bridges (40 seconds)

DAY 4: HIIT

CIRCUIT 1

(Perform each exercise for 40 seconds, then rest 20 seconds. Repeat 3x total):

  • jogging butt kicks
  • high knee skips
  • bicycle crunches
  • alternating side lunges with reach and up-and-over hops
  • seal jacks

CIRCUIT 2 (Perform each exercise for 40 seconds, then rest 20 seconds. Repeat 3x total):

  • side shuffles (4 each direction), with alternating 4 jumping jacks
  • mountain climbers
  • squat front kicks
  • alternating low lunges with rotations
  • crab toe touches

DAY 5: ACTIVE RECOVERY DAY

Participate in a yoga or Pilates online class, take a walk, or ride a bike.

DAY 6: TOTAL BODY STRENGTH

*Equipment needed: dumbbells, or household alternatives

CIRCUIT 1

(complete 3-4 rounds of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • Squats to shoulder presses
  • Biceps curls to alternating biceps curls
  • reverse lunges with shoulder raises
  • glute bridges into skull crushers

CIRCUIT 2

(complete 3-4 rounds of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • plank rows
  • Romanian deadlifts into upright rows
  • sumo squat dumbbell pullovers
  • side plank dips (each side)

DAY 5: ACTIVE RECOVERY DAY

Participate in a yoga or Pilates online class, take a walk, or ride a bike.

Week 2

DAY 8: Total Body Strength:

*Equipment needed: resistance band, or household alternatives

CIRCUIT 1

(complete 3 rounds of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • reverse plank bridges
  • banded bicep curls to upright rows
  • overhead alternating reverse lunges to knee drives (each side)
  • banded side plank leg raises (each side)
  • side-to-side squats

CIRCUIT 2 (complete 3 rounds of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds:

  • banded glute kickbacks to fire hydrants (each side)
  • side triceps pushups (each side)
  • banded squats to overhead presses
  • diamond sit ups
  • bird dog crunches (each side)

DAY 9: CARDIO & CORE

CIRCUIT 1

(complete 4 rounds, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • jumping jacks to half burpees (30 seconds)
  • butt kicks (30 seconds)
  • cross-body mountain climbers (30 seconds)
  • alternating standing knees-to-elbows toe touches (30 seconds)
  • each leg overhead knee drives (20 seconds)

CIRCUIT 2

(complete 4 rounds, 30 seconds each exercise, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • high-knee lateral shuffles with holds
  • in-and-out plank hops
  • side oblique crunches (each side)
  • criss-cross squat jumps

DAY 10: LOWER BODY

CIRCUIT 1

(complete 3 rounds of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • plie squats with calf raises
  • Squats with overhead reaches
  • reverse lunges with front kicks

CIRCUIT 2

(complete 3 rounds of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • side lunges to squats
  • marching bridge
  • lying inner thigh raises

SUPERSET

(complete 4 rounds of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • reverse lunge single leg deadlift
  • squats (weighted optional)

DAY 11: UPPER BODY

*Equipment needed: dumbbells, or household alternatives

CIRCUIT 1

(complete 3 rounds, 30 seconds each exercise, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • walking planks (4 each direction)
  • Superman squeezes with arm extensions
  • crab dips with reaches
  • overhead to “Y” presses
  • jumping jacks

CIRCUIT 2

(complete 3 rounds, 30 seconds each exercise, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • kneeling single-arm reverse flies
  • lying single-arm skull crushers
  • Biceps curls to upright rows
  • forward-to-lateral shoulder raises
  • high knees

DAY 12: ACTIVE RECOVERY DAY

Participate in a yoga or Pilates online class, take a walk, or ride a bike.

DAY 13: Total Body Strength & Cardio Mix

*Equipment needed: light dumbbells, or household alternatives

CIRCUIT 1

(complete as many rounds as possible in six minutes. Break for 20 seconds and repeat once more):

  • plank rows (8 reps)
  • standing shoulder presses with side crunches (10 reps)
  • bodyweight squats (8 reps)
  • jump squats (8 reps)
  • triceps kickbacks (10 reps)

CIRCUIT 2

(complete as many rounds as possible in six minutes. Break for 20 seconds and repeat once more):

  • cross-body mountain climbers (10 reps)
  • squats with bicep curls to forward raises (8 reps)
  • triceps up-downs to pike pushups (8 reps)
  • Romanian deadlifts to high rows (8 reps)
  • lying leg raises (8 reps)

DAY 14: ACTIVE RECOVERY DAY

Participate in a yoga or Pilates online class, take a walk, or ride a bike.

Week 3

DAY 15: Total Body Strength & Cardio:

*Equipment needed: dumbbells, or household alternatives

CIRCUIT 1

(Complete 3 rounds, performing each exercise for 45 seconds and then resting for 15 before moving on.)

  • side-to-side squat hops with leg abductions
  • Squats with bicep curls to overhead presses
  • alternating reverse lunges with trunk twists
  • weighted glute bridges

CIRCUIT 2

(Complete 3 rounds, performing each exercise for 45 seconds and then resting for 15 before moving on.)

  • Jacks to seal jacks
  • Deadlifts to upright rows
  • Supermans with arm extensions
  • forward-to-lateral shoulder raises

DAY 16: LOWER BODY & CORE

*Equipment needed: resistance band

Circuit 1

(complete 3 sets of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds)

  • side-to-side banded squats
  • banded marching bridges (each leg)
  • plank glute kickbacks to squats
  • sumo squats with calf raises

Circuit 2

(complete 3 sets of 12 reps, with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • alternating curtsy lunges to squats
  • fire hydrants (each side)
  • reverse lunges to knee drives (each leg)
  • reverse crunches

DAY 17: UPPER BODY

*Equipment needed: dumbbells and resistance bands, or alternative

CIRCUIT 1

(Perform each exercise back-to-back for 30 seconds each. Once you’ve completed all moves, rest for 15 seconds. Repeat for 3 total rounds.)

  • resistance band triceps lateral lifts
  • bent-over triceps kickbacks with palm rotations
  • hammer curls to overhead presses
  • upright rows to lateral shoulder raises
  • resistance band wide-grip biceps curls
  • dumbbell close-grip to wide-grip burnouts

CIRCUIT 2

(Perform each exercise back-to-back for 30 seconds each. Once you’ve completed all moves, rest for 15 seconds. Repeat for 3 total rounds.)

  • bird-dog crunches (each side)
  • resistance band high rows
  • alternating dumbbell bentover rows
  • lying skull-crushers
  • lying alternating chest presses

DAY 18 TOTAL BODY HIIT

CIRCUIT 1

(Perform each exercise back-to-back for 35 seconds each. Once you’ve completed all moves, rest for 20 seconds. Repeat for 3 total rounds.)

  • skater lunges
  • standing alternating oblique crunches with hops
  • Jacks to half burpees
  • sumo squats with side crunches
  • flutter kicks

CIRCUIT 2

(Perform each exercise back-to-back for 35 seconds each. Once you’ve completed all moves, rest for 20 seconds. Repeat for 3 total rounds.)

  • sit-ups to hit-ups
  • lateral high knee shuffles (4 each way)
  • squat pulses to jump squats
  • triceps up-downs to pike push ups
  • good mornings to squats

DAY 19: ACTIVE RECOVERY DAY

Participate in a yoga or Pilates online class, take a walk, or ride a bike.

DAY 20: LOW IMPACT CARDIO & CORE:

CIRCUIT 1

(complete 3 rounds with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • reverse lunges to front kicks (30 seconds each side)
  • sidekicks to knee drives (30 seconds each side)
  • plank walk-outs (35 seconds)
  • diamond sit-ups (35 seconds)

CIRCUIT 2

(complete 3 rounds with 20 seconds rest between rounds):

  • overhead reaches to knee drives (30 seconds, each side)
  • mountain climbers (35 seconds)
  • squats to heel raises (35 seconds)
  • alternating forward lunges with trunk rotations (35 seconds)
  • runner’s crunches (30 seconds)

DAY 21: TOTAL BODY

*Equipment needed: dumbbells, or alternative

CIRCUIT 1

(Perform each exercise back-to-back for 40 seconds each. Once you’ve completed all moves, rest for 20 seconds. Repeat for 3 total rounds.)

  • sumo squats with alternating heel raise and front presses
  • plank rows
  • glute bridges to skull-crushers
  • single leg balances with single arm hammer curls to overhead presses (each side)

CIRCUIT 2

(Perform each exercise back-to-back for 40 seconds each. Once you’ve completed all moves, rest for 20 seconds. Repeat for 3 total rounds.)

  • single-arm to double-arm lateral raises
  • Deadlifts to forward raises
  • weighted bent-leg jack knives
  • weighted static lateral lunges

21-Day Clean-Eating Guide

Now that you’ve got your workout routine ready to go, let’s talk about what you’re fueling with.

This 21-Day Clean-Eating Guide, created by Danielle DeAppolonio, C.P.T., is the perfect companion for our 21-Day Work-In Challenge.

What Foods To Avoid During The 21-Day Work-In Challenge

Though this isn’t necessarily an elimination diet, DeAppolonio suggests avoiding dairy, wheat and gluten, soy, coffee, alcohol, sugar, and artificial sweeteners throughout the challenge. This ensures that what you consume is as clean as can be.

The 21-Day Clean-Eating Guide Breakdown

Kickstart your day with lemon water or tea. If you usually turn to coffee for a caffeine boost, give caffeinated tea a try for the usual jolt of energy.

Take a multivitamin and omega-3 fish oil daily. DeAppolonio loves the Vthrive The Vitamin Shoppe brand Bioactive Men’s One-Daily Multi, Vthrive The Vitamin Shoppe brand Bioactive Women’s One-Daily Multi, and Vthrive The Vitamin Shoppe brand Omega-3 Fish Oil.

For breakfast and lunch, enjoy a clean protein shake (recipe below). Dinner will be your one-daily clean meal (instructions to follow). Feel free to swap your schedule and have your full meal for lunch and a shake for dinner, if preferred.

If you’re craving a snack, reach for moderate amounts of fresh fruits, veggies, and nuts.

After you complete the 21 days, DeAppolonio recommends having one shake and two clean meals per day.

How To Build A Clean Meal

When putting together your daily clean meal, keep the following tips in mind.

1) Cook with healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.

2) Fill a quarter of your plate with lean proteins, like organic chicken, grass-fed beef, wild fish, turkey, or beans.

3) Fill a quarter of your plate with healthy carbohydrates and grains, like quinoa or sweet potatoes.

4) Fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies, like spinach, kale, bean sprouts, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or carrots.

How To Blend Up A Clean Protein Shake

Whip yourself up a quick, drinkable meal that’ll fuel your body. Here’s a great recipe to start with:

  • 8 oz. liquid base (almond milk, water, coconut water)
  • 1-2 scoops protein powder of choice (DeAppolonio uses chocolate or vanilla plnt brand Plant Protein)
  • 1 scoop plnt organics BioGreens
  • 1 Tbsp healthy fat (nut butter or ½ avocado)
  • veggies of choice (spinach or kale work well)
  • frozen fruit of choice (berries or bananas work well)

Optional additions:

Blend all ingredients together for a thick and creamy shake.

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