Work it out

Want to work out at home? Try these simple bodyweight exercises

Working out at the gym is not everyone’s cup of tea. For some of us, it’s difficult to find the time to get to the gym, or perhaps the cost of membership is too much. That’s why at-home workouts can be so beneficial.

“The benefit of at-home exercises is of course convenience and simplicity,” says Vicki Anstey, leading Barre expert and founder of Barreworks.co.uk. “There is no need for any equipment, and you can exercise at any time that suits you.”

“There is no ‘best’ way to exercise for everyone, as it depends on your ability and goal,” adds Luisa Valenti, leading PT and co-founder of YourBodyProgramme.com. “Whether your intention is to lose fat, build muscle, improve posture or work on injury rehabilitation or prevention, bodyweight exercise can be beneficial. The majority of bodyweight exercises are compound movements – meaning you engage numerous joints and muscles. This maximises your time and results in an effective workout.”

Here are some examples of great bodyweight exercises you can perform at home:

Overhead reach (scapula retraction)/lat pulldowns

One of the quickest ways to build strength in your back (essential for posture and beautiful tone) is to learn how to retract your scapula (shoulder blades). If you can, use a mirror. Stand or kneel and reach both arms over your head. Your palms will be facing forward. Imagine you have strings on the tips of your shoulder blades and draw your elbows down to retract your shoulder blades (they should feel as though they are sliding down your back). Repeat 10 times, rest and go again for three sets. To advance this, use a resistance band over a door frame attachment and perform the same movement – the resistance will accelerate results.

Plank/side plank

Perfect plank position is about keeping your ‘plumb line’ (a gauge for perfect upright posture) in your horizontal position. So, your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should all be aligned. Draw your navel to your spine and lock in. Keep your hips down and your lower back slightly lifted. Try to hold for increments of 10 seconds, 20 seconds or 30 seconds. When you get really good, go for a minute or two, or as long as you can! When you have perfected that, turn the position sideways with your elbow under your shoulder and your hips stacked to target your obliques.

Squats/pliés

Squats target the glutes and quads – big muscle groups and major fat-burners. Think angles and lines. You want to see 90 degrees at the knees and hips. Your chest should be lifted and your weight in your heels. Keep it low enough that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Perform 10 reps, rest and then repeat three times. To turn your squat into a plié (and target the external hip rotators, challenge your core stability and stretch your inner thighs) simply turn out from the hip so that your feet are in a ten-to-two or quarter-to-three position (depending on your natural turn out). Perform full range reps as above, and incorporate end-range pulses (for 10) at the bottom of the position. You should keep your back in a straight position (tailbone dropped, crown of the head up) throughout.

Donkey kicks/hill-climbers

For a final attack of the glutes, go to all-fours on the floor, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Aim to keep your bodyweight evenly distributed (plenty of core control) and move one leg away. You can keep the knee bent or fully extend the leg, or a combination of the two. Lift the leg to end range and perform pulsing movements, or go full-range to the floor and back to hip-level. Repeat 10 full-range, 10 end-range pulses and a 10-second hold. Rest and repeat three times.

If you want to incorporate a more cardio focus, change (or upgrade) to hill-climbers. You can wear trainers on a carpeted floor and jump between legs, or wear socks on a wooden floor and slide feet up and down. Keep your hips low and your abs engaged. Minimise as much movement of your torso as you can and not only will you get your heart rate up, but you’ll get a good abdominal workout too.

Read previous Your Living articles here...

Read articles from our latest issue here...

A top buttonTop