Can’t bear the thought of dragging yourself to the gym after a long day at work? Don’t want to wake up at 5am to push yourself at a 6am spin class? Want to be able to get some exercise in on your own schedule, in the comfort of your own home?
We’ve got five simple exercises to help you with that, and, what’s more, you don’t need any equipment either!
Time needed: Two minutes
Love it or hate it, the classic push-up is a core calisthenics staple, and should be one of the main exercises you rely on when working out at home. Not only does it hit your core, but it works your deltoids, chest, triceps, forearms and biceps, making it a killer exercise to build upper mass. The key thing though, is to get the form correct. Here’s how:
Start in a high plank position, but place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart under your shoulders, and place your hands in a way that feels comfortable. Some people prefer to aim their fingers straight forward, but a slight angle can be easier on the wrists. Dig your toes in, and brace your core. Fire up your glutes and hamstrings, and flatten your back, imagining you’re a straight line. Begin to lower your body until your chest starts to hit the floor, but don’t raise out your glutes: remain as straight as possible. Draw your shoulder blades back and keep your elbows tucked in close to your body: flaring out your elbows is not ideal.
On the way back up, keep your core braced and exhale as you start to push yourself up until your elbows are straight, and you’re ready to head back down for another. Repeat for up to 10 reps, in three sets.
2. Star jumps
Time needed: Two minutes
You might think star jumps are just for kids in gym class, but they’re a solid work out exercise that’ll have you gasping for breath if you’ve pushed yourself right. Not only do they act as a great cardiovascular activity, star jumps are a good way of engaging your quads, helping to define the largest muscles in your legs.
Start off in a relaxed position with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold your arms close to your body. Squat down halfway, and then explode back up as hard and high as possible, extending your body, spreading your legs and your arms. As you land, bring your limbs back in, and bend your knees slightly on impact to cushion your landing. Repeat this up to 10 times, for three sets, or slot it between other exercises, and you’ll soon be dripping with sweat in no time.
Time needed: Three minutes
Despite the weird name, burpees are incredibly effective, as the frog-like movement hits a load of different muscle groups, making this a great exercise to add to your at-home routine. You’ll soon love to hate them, though; they can be pretty gruelling.
To kick off a burpee, simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides, and with some weight in your heels. Then push your hips back, bend your knees and lower yourself down into a squat position. Next, place your hands in front of you on the floor, just inside your feet, and shift your weight on to them.
Now kick back your feet and land softly on the balls of your feet, engaging a plank position – form a straight line with your body and tighten your core, keeping your back solid and your glutes firm. Hold for a moment, and then return your feet just outside of your hands before raising up and lifting your hands up in the air. Then explode off the ground, and jump as high as you can, before landing and lowering yourself back into a squat to start your next rep. Mix it up by adding press-ups, or holding your plank for as long as you can.
Time needed: Three minutes
The mighty squat: equally loved and loathed, but a powerful addition to your workout. Embrace the squat and you’ll be on your way to strong quadriceps, although you’ll need to lock down your form to see the key benefits. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and begin the movement by flexing your knees and hips, engaging a sitting down motion with your weight in your heels.
Continue down until you’re at the last depth you’re capable of holding, and then explode back up to the starting position. As you squat, keep your head and your chest up, and push your knees out – repeat up to 10 times for three sets, or even combine with push-ups, burpees and star jumps for a truly killer full body workout.
Time needed: 30 Seconds+
The plank itself is a great exercise that helps build your core, stamina and endurance. It might look simple, but keep your form tight and planking really hits your abdominals. To begin, lay yourself down prone on the ground, and then support your weight on your toes and forearms.
Your arms are straight below the shoulder, and should look like a 90-degree angle from the side. Next, straighten up your body and brace your abdominals, making sure you feel as straight as an arrow, and then hold for as long as possible. If you’re starting out, aim for around 30 seconds each time you plank, and increase the duration once you feel confident. Combine the plank with any of the exercises above, and you’ll be on your way to an excellent routine you can do practically everywhere.