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Ok, it’s time to start exercising. I know you’ve been meaning to begin, but there are so many obstacles. Maybe you’ve looked into a gym membership in the past, but the costs were too high or you just couldn’t afford the time it takes to drive to the facility, work out, and drive home. Or maybe you couldn’t leave the kids at home while you were gone for an hour or two. You’d like to work out at home, but you don’t know how to begin or what kind of equipment to buy. The excuses can pile up and soon you wake up and it’s July. You never started.
Seriously guys, it’s time right now to stand up and do this. Sit on the floor with the kids around you or better yet have them join you. (Their push-up form is bound to make you laugh).
Here are five exercises sent by a good friend of mine that is a personal trainer in Columbia.
These are simple exercises that you probably already know that will engage practically every muscle in your body. Even if you do 3 sets of each exercise, this workout will take less than 30 minutes. Let’s begin with the core. The core is made up of all the muscles around your middle including your abs, your side muscles (obliques), and your lower back. Two exercises will do the trick.
Bicycle crunches. Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees to a 45 degree angle and position your knees directly over your hips. Place your hands by your ears. Now lift you head and shoulders off the mat. Ideally your shoulder blades should come off the mat as well. Return to the starting position. That’s one repetition, or rep. Do 10 reps. Then continue the exercise by bringing your right elbow toward your left knee while straightening your right leg. Return to the start position and then do the same thing on the other side – left elbow to right knee and left leg straight. Each time you come up counts as one rep. Complete 20 reps. All 30 reps – 10 regular crunches and 20 bicycles – constitutes one set. Rest 30 to 60 seconds and then do a second set. Work up to three sets.
Back extensions. Lie on your stomach. Place your hands under your chin and keep your elbows pointed straight out. Now lift your head, arms, and chest off the floor as high as possible. Don’t worry if you can’t raise yourself very high off the floor. Even just a few inches will strengthen the muscles in your lower back (the erector spinae), as well as your glutes (butt muscles) and hamstrings (rear thigh muscles). Note: You may have to brace your feet under a chair or other object to keep them from lifting off the floor.
Next we’ll work all the muscles in your lower body with one exercise.
Squats. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your hands on your hips, and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor or go as low as you can without causing any knee pain. Keep your head up, looking forward throughout the entire exercise. This helps keep your spine straight. Once you are as low as you can go, raise up. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps to complete one set. Rest and do a second set. Work up to three sets. (If you want to make this more challenging grab an empty milk bottle and fill with water, now you have a 5 lb weight, hold in the middle near your belly button as you do squats).
Now let’s work the upper body. Pushups work the arms, the chest, the shoulders, and the core.
Pushups. Everyone knows what a pushup looks like. If you can’t do a regular pushup, try doing them on your knees or use place your hands on a step or chair or even against the wall. In each case, keep your body straight from your heels to your head or in the case of pushups on your knees, from your knees to your head. No chicken scratches here where you are on all fours and just dipping your head down. Use good form for maximum benefits. Do 10 reps, rest, and do a second set. Work toward three sets. Increase the degree of difficulty as you get stronger until you can do regular pushups like a Marine.
Finally, we’ll tone the arms by doing dips.
Dips. Sit in a chair or on a bench. Place your hands against the edge of the chair and slide you butt off the seat. The more you bend your legs, the easier this exercise is. Now your legs are bent slightly, your butt is off the chair and you are holding yourself up with your hands. From this position, lower your body until your arms are bent and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. If you can’t go that low, lower yourself as far as you can. Now push yourself back to the start position. That completes one rep. Do ten reps. Rest and do a second set. Work up to three sets. (To make these harder put your feet further out in front of you or even lift one foot off the ground.)
Do this workout three times a week, but leave a day in between workouts. For even better results, walk 30 minutes a day at a fast pace on the off days. The walking will strengthen your most important muscle – your heart.
There you are – five exercises that work practically every muscle in your body. No gym memberships, no equipment to buy, and no more excuses. I’ll share even more exercises next week.
Do you have an exercise to do around the house that requires no equipment?
Guest Post by Tim Graham of Graham Fitness.