Exercises You Can Do While Brushing Your Teeth!

By on June 23, 2022

Exercising while brushing your teeth might sound a little odd. Maybe it sounds like a gimmick, or an idea that only someone unhealthily obsessed with exercise would have.

And sure, maybe it’s both those things a bit.

Straight up: I don’t exercise every time I do my teeth.

But I do do this sometimes. More to the point, I use this philosophy a LOT. That is: I train throughout my day and use opportunities to move.

Toothbrush Title

Tooth brushing just happens to be a great example of an opportunity we are presented with daily. Twice. For a total of six minutes.

Six minutes of training per day is 42 minutes a week. That’s not nothing.

And during those 42 minutes, you can actually get a fair bit done.

So, as inspiration, or perhaps as a thought experiment primarily. Let’s take a look at some of the useful ways you can train while doing your teeth every day.

The Ground Rules

Before we begin, I want to lay some ground rules.

The first is that this must be convenient and practical. To be honest, you can do any unilateral exercise while brushing your teeth and most leg exercises. You could bring your brush with you to the gym and do box jumps, or you could bring your dumbbells into the bathroom and curl weights.

See also: Incidental Training: Everything Can Be Training

These are not practical options.

And neither are squats if they mean you’re going to be bouncing up and down too quickly to focus on brushing your teeth. For this to work, you shouldn’t have to bring anything with you into the bathroom and you should be able to focus on brushing your teeth well.

The other rule is that this must be genuinely useful. To the point that just three minutes, twice a day, would be beneficial in some way.

From my Course: The Best Incidental Training Suggestions

Of course, I’d love to hear your own suggestions in the comments below!

With that said, here are the ideas.

Calf Raises

While squats are a bit too dynamic for toothbrushing, and while lunges take up too much space, calf raises are fair game. These work better if you stand on a step or something but to be honest they work just fine on the ground – especially if you go for super high reps.  Like three minute’s worth, for example!

I’ve heard a lot of people who have used sets of 100 squats when they’ve struggled to grow their calves. Many of those people have had great success.

Calf Raise

This is the perfect opportunity to perform that otherwise arduous and boring task!

Tibialis Raise

Alternatively, you could try the opposite movement: the tibialis raise. This exercise has been championed by Knees Over Toes Guy, Ben Patrick recently. It involves resting on the heels, against a wall, and then dorsiflexing (that means bringing the toes up toward the ceiling). This strengthens the muscle responsible for dorsiflexion (no surprise there), which is also responsible for handling impacts following jumps and sprinting.

See also: F O R T I F Y | A Bulletproofing Workout

In other words, this can prevent shin splints and knee problems – particularly for athletes and runners.

Deep Squat

I’ve spoken at length about the benefits of the deep squat in a recent video, so I won’t go into it in detail right now. But suffice to say that it can improve hip and ankle mobility, strengthen the knee, and even benefit the lower back.

Improving your mobility in the resting squat position will translate to a better vertical jump, lower risk of injury, and greater pain-free mobility. This is our natural resting position and it’s a position we should be taking daily. This is one of the options I actually do use regularly myself.

I also pistol squat in the shower. I’m just a big weirdo.

Quasi-Isometric Squat

I said that doing regular squats would be too fast and bump for brushing your teeth. But what about the quasi-isometric squat? This is a squat performed extremely slowly, so that you very gently lower toward the ground and then raise back up. The entire repetition can take a minute or more.

Again, this is something I’ve spoken about before. The cliff notes version: it improves your strength and control at every point in the movement and helps you to therefore remove sticking points, it trains the slow twitch fibers, and it’s great for tendon strength.

Mabu (Horse Stance)

Horse stance is a position used in Kung Fu and other martial arts to develop powerful legs and a strong core. It also strengthens the tendons and trains mobility particularly in the hips. In fact, some people use a progressively widening horse stance to develop the middle splits. See FitnessFAQs for a great video on how to do this.

Keep your feet facing forward, step out to one side by the length of roughly one leg, and then sit down into the position until you feel that tension in your hips holding you in place. Importantly, try and keep the back straight the whole time. Check against a wall if you’re unsure.

Horse Stance

This kind of hip mobility is lacking for many people and this can lead to back pain and other issues. Working on this will also help you to develop better kicks and even greater rotational strength for other moves. It’s a great test of willpower, too.

Now, three minutes is actually an impressive horse stance if you’re new to this – so feel free to give up after 30 or 60 seconds to begin with.

Ambidexterity Training

While it’s definitely a “nice to have,” rather than an essential trait, I do advocate training ambidexterity. Not only does this offer a ton of practical benefits, the act of training is also grea for the brain in itself.

Brushing your teeth is actually a great exercise for fine motor control, making it the perfect opportunity to switch hands. This is also a great option if, like me, you brush too hard and damage your gums!

Grip Training

While brushing your teeth with one hand, you can also train your grip with the other hand. This ties in nicely with ambidextrous brushing, if you swap hands between morning and evening. This also becomes even more of a cognitive challenge, as you now have to juggle two separate tasks!

Toothbrush

So, those are my votes. What are yours?

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

2 Comments

  1. Alex says:

    In the last 2 years i’ve been sitting into a deep squat while i brush my teeth. Came up with that idea becuz i was doing deep squat movements in my morning routine so i wanted to save some time 🙂
    One more thing what i do while i brush me teeth is i stand on one leg, for 1 minute each 🙂

    Note: i brush my teeth for 10 mins 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Jerry Mills says:

    Adam, not sure if you will read this. My name is Jerry Mills. I’m very fascinated with neurophysiology and a big fan of Bruce Lee.

    I have spent the last 15 years wanting to develop a method to expose the muscle to more rapid succession of demand than gravity or existing workouts allow.

    I have uncovered a way to do this without injuring the body or the need of a hydraulic aid and I believe I’ve created a method to turn off the nervous system’s firing of a muscle at the prime moment in an athletic movement.

    I have created systems that can expose you to the need to generate maximal explosive forces in succession in less than a tenth of a second (think jumping as high as possible and then needing to perform that activity again within a tenth of a second). I believe it’s possible that Bruce Lee was using equipment in a unique way and doing things like this.

    Please contact me if you’d like to discuss popularizing these concepts as I don’t have a network in the industry to rapidly share them.

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