The One Exercise to Do While You Wait for Water to Boil

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Erin Wengrovius)

What takes longer than waiting for water to boil while you watch it? Nothing, that’s what. Instead of mentally trying to will those little bubbles to rise, consider taking those five or 10 minutes to do something good for yourself. Use that time to do some kitchen sink squats.

What to Do While You Wait for Water to Boil: Kitchen Sink Squats

That’s what personal trainer and yoga instructor Britt McVicar calls this basic but super-functional move, which is simply the classic squat, performed with your hands resting lightly on the kitchen sink to keep you in alignment (because lean forward, she says, and wham go your knees into the cabinet).

Why a Squat?

The squat is a favorite among many fitness pros, and for good reason. “It’s primal,” Britt says. “Our species is designed to do this very move but our culture, especially in America, we’ve gotten used to all these props — chairs, couches — that we don’t need to squat any more.” The squat (which could use a sexier name, but hey, that’s what we’ve got) helps us remember that our bodies are meant to move through the full range of motion, Britt adds.

We all start out knowing how to squat. “Kids are the boss at squatting,” Britt jokes. “They have no fear, no judgment of their own body. They do what feels good.” And the move is actually good for the body, especially for anyone with strength or weight loss goals, she says.

“You’re recruiting your entire system,” Britt explains. “Our bodies are connected, you don’t just have a muscle here and a muscle over there.” Squats engage your legs, back, and core — all at the same time! Besides, she adds, intentionally performing squats helps you connect with a movement you’re probably already doing 50 times a day (sitting down!)

Are you sold? Great! Get that pot of water on the stove, then head to your sink. Face the counter and rest your hands lightly (you’re not holding on for dear life, here and, in fact, you can just stand in front of it with your hands clasped in front of your chest if you want).

How to Do a Kitchen Sink Squat

Now, squat. Okay, it’s not that simple. Or rather, it is, but there are some key things to keep in mind.

  1. Always remember to breathe. If you forget, that’ll essentially send a panic signal to your brain, Britt says, and there’s no need to be afraid.
  2. Keep your knees aligned over your ankles, meaning don’t let them them drift out in front (the cabinet will help teach this lesson!)
  3. Lift your head — no looking down at your toes. Gaze ahead.
  4. Maintain the curve in your lower back — don’t let your tailbone tuck under.
  5. Go as deep as you can comfortably and safely. Try to drop below that, Britt warns, and your butt will wink (yes, that’s a thing) and it will turn into twerking. Which is a whole other article — for another site.
  6. Without getting bouncy with it, once you’ve reached a comfortable depth, rise smoothly and repeat a few times.

Once you’re comfortable with the move, this is something you can do with a bit of speed if you like, adding a cardio element. For extra heart-rate credit, alternate squat reps with jumping jacks or high-knee marching. Or you can keep it slow and controlled, focusing on balance and strength.

Work your way up to a few reps of several sets each — but don’t forget that pot and let it boil over while you’re at the sink banging out your squats!

Ever stop to think about how much time in the kitchen is wasted waiting? Waiting for coffee to brew, water to boil, the oven to preheat, or people to get to the dinner table all adds up. Meanwhile many of us don’t have enough time to work out. Eureka! Why not slip a few key mini-workouts into those lulls? We talked with experts for recommendations on some real-world exercises you can do in the smallest of kitchens with no special equipment needed.