In a perfect world there would be plenty of time to work out at the gym, or with a trainer. But let’s face it: life gets in the way. That’s no excuse for giving up on your fitness goals, though.
Happily there are body weight exercises you can do anywhere, anytime. The key to making the most of your time is to work at high intensity. When you get your heart pumping – even in brief bursts – you burn fat, boost your cardio fitness, and get a hit of feel-good endorphins.
Whether you have ten minutes in your living room, or half-an-hour at the local park, you’ll get tangible fitness benefits from these five bodyweight exercises.
These are a classic for a reason – they work. Properly performed a push-up works your arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. Here’s how it’s done: Lie face down on the floor, palms at shoulder level and fingers pointing forward. Push up until your body weight is resting just on your palms and toes. Lower and repeat. To emphasize the chest: place your hands wider than shoulder-width. Bring your hands close together with thumbs and index fingers touching to target your back and triceps.
This deceptively simple exercise is incredible for strengthening, toning and tightening your core muscles. All you need to do it is a floor, so no excuses! You can start in a push-up position, then lower your forearms so they are resting on the ground. Keep your elbows beneath your shoulders and your fists lightly clenched. Pull your belly button towards your spine to engage your abs. The goal is to keep your body completely straight, like a plank of wood, by flexing your abs and squeezing your glutes. Hold this for as long as you can and don’t let your backside pop up – you’re a plank!
If you want to bust your backside, in a good way, squats are it. For a basic squat you stand tall with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. You lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees, is if going to sit in a low chair. Pause when your thighs are parallel to the ground then slowly return to standing. This instantly hits your major lower-body muscle groups, building strength, toning and burning fat. To really boost the burn, try the jump-squat: it’s the same move, only instead of rising slowly you leap from the squat position and, when you land, immediately squat down and jump again.
For fast, effective strength and toning you can’t beat lunges, which work the large muscles in the lower half of your body, especially glutes and quads. Correct form is important to avoid knee strain. Hold your upper body straight, core tight, with shoulders relaxed and chin up. Step forward with one leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Keep your front knee directly above your ankle, not in front of it, and don’t let your back knee touch the floor. For variation, try walking lunges; or reverse lunges, where you step back rather than forwards.
Funny name but boy does the burpee get results! It is an awesome quick fix that boosts your explosive power, strength and anaerobic conditioning. This is how you do it:
- Start in a squat position with hands on the floor in front of you.
- Kick your feet back so you are in a push-up position.
- Jump your feet back to the squat position.
- Leap up as high as possible from the squat position.
You can do sets or timed repeats, e.g. 15 burpees or 30 seconds worth. To get the most out of it move as fast and jump as high as you can. I guarantee you will feel this one!