Getting to the gym is often the one thing that gets cut from our to-do list when we are pushed for time, especially given the monthly costs associated with a gym membership. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get some exercise! Here are my favourite home workouts that you can do at a time that’s convenient for you, in the comfort of your own home, and with no equipment required. No excuses!
If you're ready for an advanced challenge, then get warmed up and join me for my advanced circuit workout. We're going to work at a high intensity and perform some high impact exercises. As always, work at a level that fits your own personal level of fitness, and only attempt advanced moves when you are ready.
We're going to work in an interval style: 45 seconds of a high intensity move, followed by 15 seconds of an active rest move that will work your core.
High Intensity Move: SQUAT JUMPS
Sit in a squat position. Jump forward, squatting down as you land, then shuffle back. As you squat down, always sit back on your heels. The further you sit back and jump forward, the harder it is. Repeat for 45 seconds.
Active Rest Move: CRUNCHES
For your rest move, do crunches for 15 seconds. Make sure to lift your shoulders off the floor, eyes towards the ceiling, and chin off the chest.
High Intensity Move: PUSHUP JACKS
Get into push-up position with feet/legs together. Jack out the feet (jumping them out to wider than hip width), and then back together. Repeat for 45 seconds and always focus on your form: hands should be just slightly wider than shoulder width apart with wrists and shoulders in a straight line.
Active Rest Move: HANDS & KNEES LEG LIFTS
For your next rest move, come onto your hands and knees, then lift and extend one leg out straight behind you. Bring the knee in to your chest, and then extend it out straight again. Do 3 on one side and then switch sides, and repeat for 15 seconds.
High Intensity Move: SWITCH LUNGES
Get into lunge position, and then switch the leg that is lunging forward with a jump. Simply jump and switch legs. If you're not quite ready to do that, you can always stop in the middle before lunging with the opposite leg. You’re aiming for height! Really push up out of that lunge.
Active Rest Move: BICYCLE
This 15-second rest move involves you lying with your back flat against the floor/mat: fingers on temples and knees bent. Lift your head and torso and twist carefully over to one side, bringing one elbow to meet the opposite knee. Switch and repeat.
When you've completed this circuit once, take it again from the top.
CORE AB WORKOUT
This is a great workout for keeping my core strong. As always before a workout, do a warm up. These eleven simple exercises should be done for 30 seconds each; twice through.
HIGH ARM KNEE SWINGS
Stand with knees shoulder width apart. Raise one arm straight above you, and lift the opposite knee so it’s at a right angle with the floor. Swap arms and legs, swinging your arms and lifting one knee then the other. This move really challenges your balance, and therefore activates the core.
Feet are forward, slightly wider than shoulders width apart. Reach the arms up above you – wider than shoulder width apart – so your body forms an ‘x’ shape. Squat all the way down, and touch the inside of your feet with your opposite hands (don’t just bend forward – make sure you’re bending the knees). As you sit down, your body weight should be going into your heels. As you raise up again, really reach up on the stretch to ensure you work your abdominals.
Stand with arms straight above you. Keep one leg strong and stationary (slight bend in the knee), and kick the other leg straight out in front of you – to hip height if you can. As you do this, fold your body and half so that you can reach your toes with both hands. If you struggle with hamstring flexibility, keep a slight bend in the raised leg so you can reach the toe. This move is all about crunching at the core. Breathe in on the way up and breathe out on the way down.
CHEST STRETCH LUNGES
This is a standard lunge but with the addition that you stretch your chest as you lunge; keeping your hands behind the head. Don't push the neck forward; keep a nice tall spine. Come forward into your lunge and then come back to standing, then switch legs.
DOUBLE CHOP KNEE PULLS
Engage the core by putting your arms up above you, palms together. Then bring them down to one side swiftly in a chopping motion, twisting the side of your body. Lift the opposite knee to meet the hands as they chop down. Do 2 on one side, then switch to the other side, and repeat. Keep a tall spine and don't over-rotate. This is a great move for the hip flexors.
Raise your arms overhead and bring one knee up and in to your chest; bending the arms down so that your elbows meet the raised knee, along with your chest. You can do this one with your legs straight, or you can just keep the knee bent. The main thing is the ribs are coming towards the knee.
LOW IMPACT BURPEES
These are slower-paced burpees. Start standing, then crouch down and place your hands flat on the floor in front of you. Jump your feet back into the plank position and hold for two seconds. Jump the feet forward into a crouch, then come back up to standing. Repeat. Keep the movements controlled.
SQUAT KNEE LIFT ROTATION
Squat down with feet wider than shoulder width apart, and raise your fingers to your temples. Shift your body weight to one side and lift one knee. Twisting your body, bring the opposite elbow down to meet the raised knee. Swap to the other side, and repeat. Don't rush the movement, remember to breathe the whole time through, and stay light on your feet.
LONG AND LEAN CRUNCHES
Lay on the floor with one leg bent, one leg straight. Take both arms behind your head, then and lift your head, arms and torso off the floor at the same time as you raise the straight leg up. Crunch and raise up so that your hands touch the feet. Keep the raised foot flexed, the chin away from the chest, and the back engaged with the floor/mat. Switch sides, and repeat. To make it a bit easier, use one arm instead of two.
PRONE SUPERMAN LIFTS
Whenever you work the abs, you should also turn over and work the small muscles in your back. Lie face down with arms and legs stretched out so you’re as long as possible. At the same time, lift your left leg and right arm off the floor. Hold for 2 seconds, then lower, switch sides and repeat. Always make sure that your eyes are looking straight down at the floor. This is a very subtle movement.
Sit on the mat/floor, knees bent. Plant your feet down, engage the core, and slightly lean back so that you are almost resting on the small of your back – back straight. Twist from side to side, working the abs and moving both hands to touch the floor on the side you are twisting. If you want to make it easier, sit more upright. If you want to make it harder, lean back further.
After you've completed this routine twice, make time to cool down.
Did you have a hectic day? Let's calm down with a yoga session that will calm your mind, and strengthen and stretch your muscles.
Start with a few cleansing breaths while stretching your arms up overhead. Take arms up overhead as you breathe in, and bring them back to the heart centre as you breathe out. Just breathe out all the tension and stress from the day – five breaths in and out.
Now for an initial stretch—hinge at the hips as you slowly fold your body forward, taking a hold of your elbows. Hang your head down, and sway gently from side to side, releasing the pressure in your neck, head and joints.
After you get a good stretch, take your hands to the floor and slowly walk out into plank position. Find a comfortable plank position and hold. Take a deep breath in. As you breathe out, slowly lower your plank to the floor (using your triceps and maintaining your straight plank position). Push your upper body up and your hips forward; look diagonally up with the head, and breathe. This yoga pose is known as an upward dog.
What goes down must come up, so take your pose into a downward facing dog: keeping your hands where they are, tuck your toes under, lift the hips up, and push the heels down so that you are now in an upside-down ‘v’ shape with your hips in the air. Get comfortable in this position and take the stretch a little further—lift one leg up straight into the air, and then bring the knee to the opposite elbow. Repeat a few times, then switch to the opposite leg.
Then position yourself for side plank: lay on your side with feet stacked one on top of the other. Place the hand that you’re leaning on flat on the floor and push up so that your hips lift off the floor. Your arm should be straight and directly under the shoulder. Raise the other arm to the sky, lift your hips and just enjoy that stretch. Stay for a few breaths then lower down and switch sides. Once you've done both sides, walk your feet to your hands and come up to standing position.
Once you've come to standing, raise your arms above your head then bring them to the heart centre in front of your chest: palms together. Lower down into quarter squat position, and twist to the right to bring your left elbow over your right knee. Open up your arms so that the left is by your feet and the right hand in the air, and enjoy that stretch. Breathe, then repeat on the other side.
Repeat this sequence as many times as you need to wind down. This quick yoga routine helps to clear my mind and helps me relax after a hard day.
I’m not suggesting that you always work out at home, because I believe that exercising with a group can help you to stay motivated and help you to reach your personal goals. But the next time you just want a quick workout without all the fuss of the gym, an at-home workout is a perfect option.
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.