Health

Fitness at Home: These exercises don’t require any equipment and will help improve your overall health

Fitness At Home
PHOTO BY ISTOCK

As I sit down to write this article, gyms have been closed for weeks with no real end in sight. If we’re being honest with ourselves, and closely monitoring reopening plans, it would appear as if they will be one of the last amenities permitted to reopen.

For many, the “Quarantine 15” is real and has us feeling a bit uncomfortable in our bodies as summer rapidly approaches. Millions of families have experienced job loss and a reduction in household income, which has forced them to cut discretionary spending. Even for families that are positioned to purchase home fitness equipment, the stock is depleted at many stores. This may sound dire, but there are many ways to work out from home that will torch calories, help you shed pounds, increase your strength and endurance, boost your mood and improve your overall health.

One of the most efficient and effective ways to exercise is with a total body HIIT workout. If you’re unfamiliar with HIIT, it is an acronym that stands for High Intensity Interval Training. During a HIIT workout, you cycle through different exercises, targeting various muscle groups for 20-60 second bursts with rest stations of 5-15 seconds. Some of the benefits of a HIIT workout versus a more traditional, moderate intensity workout are that you can burn a large number of calories in a short amount of time, expedite fat loss and the workouts can be completed in as few as 10-30 minutes.

To get the most of your HIIT workout, try incorporating exercises that target a number of different muscle groups. To get started, here is a sample of the numerous exercises that you can do at home that require absolutely no equipment:

  • Legs: Lunges (front, reverse, side), wall sits, mountain climbers, spider jumps and calf raises.
  • Abs: Crunches, planks (high, low, side), flutter kicks, situps, penguins.
  • Glutes: Supermans, reverse leg lift, glute bridge, squats, donkey kicks.
  • Biceps and triceps: Pushups, plank shoulder tap, high-low plank, bodyweight tricep dip, inchworm with a pushup.
  • Chest and back: T pushups, swimmers, elbow lifts, alternating arm/leg plank, wide grip pushups.
  • Cardio: High knees, jumping jacks, line jumps, burpees, cross jacks.

It is worth noting that many of these exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time, such as squats (legs and glutes), planks (abs, back and shoulders) and pushups (chest, back, shoulders and abs), so incorporating even a few from different categories can result in a great full body workout. If you are unfamiliar with any of these exercises, a quick Google search will produce images, videos and a detailed description of how to properly perform the moves. Additionally, there are numerous other exercises you can incorporate into your home routines with little or no equipment based on your searches.

Armed with a plethora of ideas, you may now be wondering how to put them all together to create an effective, efficient and fun workout. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

Lady Luck

For this workout, I like to choose 11 different exercises (try to vary them) and assign a number of repetitions to each, usually between 10-25 and in increments of five. I set a timer for 30 minutes, roll two dice and complete the exercise as indicated.

An example would look like this:

12: 20 lunges (10 on each leg)
11: 25 flutter kicks
10: 15 squats
9: 10 pushups
8: 25 high knees
7: 20 swimmers
6: 25 calf raises
5: 20 penguins
4: 10 donkey kicks
3: 20 plank shoulder taps
2: 10 burpees

This workout is particularly enjoyable due to its ever-changing nature and limited rest periods. That being said, if you need to build in a rest between exercises, by all means give yourself 10 seconds or so before moving on.

Final Countdown

In this workout, I choose 10 exercises, starting with 100 repetitions, and cycle through them until I get to the end of the 30-minute timer.

An example of a Final Countdown workout would look like this:

100 mountain climbers
90 crunches
80 glute bridges
70 jumping jacks
60 second plank
50 line jumps
40 situps
30-second wall sit
20 inchworm pushups
10 wide grip pushups

When designing a Final Countdown-themed workout for yourself, be mindful of the number of repetitions that you are pushing yourself to complete. For example, if you struggle to complete pushups or burpees, you want to avoid placing those moves at a higher frequency. Thirty minutes struggling to complete 100 burpees will be counterproductive and leave you with a sense of defeat rather than strength. Push yourself to improve, but also start where you’re at.

 Heads or Tails

This is a new twist on an old classic. For Heads or Tails, simply choose two exercises from each category and a desired number of repetitions, then set your timer.

A Heads or Tails workout could look like this:

Heads                                       Tails

Spider jumps                15                    Mountain climbers

Leg raises                     25                    Situps

Supermans                   20                    Reverse leg lifts

High/low plank             10                    Bodyweight tricep dip

High knees                   25                    Cross jacks

T pushups                    10                    Elbow lifts

Any of these workouts could be varied in endless combinations. There are also endless at-home workout videos, blogs and Facebook groups available right now to help you work towards your health and fitness goals while we wait to be able to safely return to the gyms. Whether you’re just starting to work out or are working hard to maintain your current fitness level, what is most important is to keep moving forward.

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