It’s another full lockdown. If you are jaded from working, ordering delivery and Netflix binging while dreading about the weight that keeps ticking up, here is a set of simple exercises you can perform at home without any equipment.
We promise you it will keep you occupied for a productive hour (you can tune into your favourite show while doing so) while keeping the weight in check, because we have a competitive bodybuilder feeding you all the right information to ensure you do these simple exercises right.
Push-ups – as easy as it seems, have you been doing it right?
Start with a high plank position and ensure your back is straight. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, while your shoulders should be positioned over your hands. Your feet should be placed together (or your knees on the floor for extra leverage) and remember to pull your abs tight to engage your core muscles.
While lowering your body, keep your eyes on the floor to avoid injury. Don’t sag your lower back or tilt your head or hips up. Your chest should come close to contact with the ground, while the angle of elbows should be around 45 degrees at this point. Complete the movement by pressing up until your arms are fully extended.
Squats + reverse lunges – the tried-and-tested but with a twist
A basic squat requires your feet placed shoulder-width apart or a tad wider. Now imagine there is a chair and you are about to sit on it with your chest up and back straight. Never round your lower back. To engage quadriceps, keep your thighs parallel to the floor. Or if you desire a shapely booty, squat deeper.
Keep your knees over your ankles, but don’t let it past your toes, while keeping your core tight. To add more intensity, perform one full squat before transitioning into a reverse lunge by placing one leg behind the other into a lunge. Repeat with a squat and another reverse lunge, this time on the other leg.
Glute bridges – grow it naturally!
Place a yoga mat on the floor. Lie face up with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms by your side with your palms facing down. Then proceed to lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight slope. To really activate the glute muscles, hold the position, draw your ribs in and squeeze your glute for 3 seconds before lowering your body back onto the mat.
If you’re feeling a different muscle rather than the glutes “burning” (the front of your thighs or the front of your hips, for example), you might want to make a few adjustments such as lowering your bootie or your feet placement (not too near or far from your hips) and a slower tempo to achieve a tight squeeze.
Back extension – while abs may be aesthetically appealing, the back is just as important
If you have a back or shoulder injury, talk to a doctor or personal trainer before starting this exercise. Engaging muscle groups in your lower back, butt, hips and shoulders, the back extension helps to strengthen the lower back and prevent future back-related injury. A beginner should start with the basics.
To exert the least pressure on your back, lie face down on the mat and straighten your legs. Elbows on the ground and slump your shoulders down. Lift your upper back and press your hips onto the mat. Keep your head and neck neutral. Hold for 3 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
Burpees to high knees jumps – time to turn up the intensity
An efficient way to boost the intensity of these simple exercises, add a few of these to the end of your regular strength training or even cardio. Stand with feet about hip-width apart and squat down to the floor, then place both hands on the floor and kick back with both feet out behind you to form a high plank position.
Remember not to round or arch your back and always keep your back straight. Immediately recoil with both feet back to your chest and perform an explosive high knee jump (both knees up to core level) as you come up.
Other things to consider…
It’s important to rehydrate yourself when performing these simple exercises between rests. For breathing, I recommend taking up to 5 deep breaths during intervals so that the body gets enough oxygen for the next set. For beginners, you may need a longer resting time of up to 3 minutes. As you progress, shorten your rest times to 30 seconds or less. Circuit training, high-intensity interval training, or supersets is also often used for strength and cardio.
Generally, for this set of movements, if we do 15 repetitions in 3 sets for each exercise, with rest intervals shorter than 60 seconds, we can burn up to 380 calories within an hour of completion. Bear in mind, this is only an estimate. Calories burnt vary among individuals and their metabolic states.
I encourage my trainees to start with a simple goal – a habit of a healthy lifestyle. Start with 3 days of training in a week and gradually progress. Performing these movements correctly avoids injury.
End with a cool-down right after these simple exercises – a good stretching to help relieve muscles for better recovery and slow down the heart rate gradually.
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