There are lots of barriers to exercise, with the two biggest ones being time and expense. Luckily there are lots of ways that you can avoid the added cost and time involved with going to a gym by working out in the comfort of your own home. Obviously there is still a time element involved with this, but prioritising your own health is the most important thing and even if your workout is short, it’s better than no workout.
I do have a gym membership but I also do a lot of workouts at home, especially in the morning when I’m short on time. Here are some of my favourite basic at home exercises, along with some progressions and tips.
A great fundamental movement that can lead to a huge number of more advanced exercises, once mastered. Starting with your feet slightly turned out, just over hip distance apart the idea is to squat down to until your hip reaches below the height of your knees, pushing your bottom backwards and keeping the weight through your heels. Your chest should remain upright throughout the movement, with a straight back and your knees should track your feet, but not go past your toes (ideally they should stop directly above your heels, meaning your bottom is pushed back). As you extend up, exhale and push through the heels. I like to use the arm positioning as above, but you could extend your arms parallel as an alternative.
Progressions include jump squats (just add a jump after each squat) and weighted squats (try holding a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of your chest).
The best way to start with press ups is with your hands on a platform, or with your knees on the floor, or both. If you’re lowering your knees be sure to get the correct plank position first then, without moving anything but your knees, lower them to the floor directly below the start position (so you’re in an extended shape, rather than a box).
Inhale on the lowering phase and exhale on the push up, maintaining a straight body line at all times – really concentrate on pushing your lower back to the ceiling so you don’t create an arch shape (which is seen a lot through social media).
If you want to work your triceps more, bring your hands closer together, to concentrate more on the chest keep them wider. Putting your feet wider apart will also make movement easier.
The dip focuses on your triceps, for this one you will need to find a platform (a sofa, step or stool would do). Start with your arms shoulder width apart and squeeze your elbows in throughout slowly bending at the arms to lower, hingeing at the hips. To make it easier, bend the knees in, or harder straighten the legs out (as above), but try and stay as close to the platform as possible throughout the exercise.
The lunge is another versatile movement that can be made harder as you improve. Start with feet hip width apart and, I would recommend, hands on hips. Take a long step forward, bending both knees to a 90 degree angle, keeping the core tight, chest up and each foot in the same line it started (i.e. hip width apart). Push off the front foot and return to the start position, swap legs. Alternatively you can push off the back leg and bring it straight through in front for the next lunge (walking lunges) – this does require balance, but extra bonus points for working the core more!
To up the difficulty of the movement you can add a jump in between to change legs or increase the load by adding a weight (such as a dumbbell or barbell held across the shoulder, in a rack position or weights held at the sides).
Last but not least….the burpee. One of the ultimate body weight exercises, for me at least.
Start in a straight, full plank position, jump the feet towards the hands into a crouch, explode up to a straight jump..and repeat.
To increase the intensity (because burpees aren’t challenging enough) you can start lying on the ground (push up through the arms to the plank before jumping to crouch), add a press up in between each rep, add a tuck jump at the end, include a box jump (if you have a platform available) or do some shoulder taps in the plank position. Even better, why not just add them all in if you’re feeling particularly brutal…?
My other absolute favourite at home exercise to do is handstands – I practically do them on a daily basis. If you would like to learn, or improve a handstand check out my blog post with some hints and tips here.
What are your favourite exercises to do at home?