As the cold weather continues throughout most of the U.S., it can make it harder to get out and do your training, so I thought I would provide you with 5 simple exercises that require little or no equipment, and you can do them right in your own home.
Getting started is the hardest part, but just go slowly. As your body warms up it will become easier, and once you get going it will actually be hard to stop! Begin with just a few repetitions and one or two sets. Then build up to 25 repetitions for 3 to 5 sets.
1. Supermans – This exercise helps strengthen the whole back side of your body, from the back of your knees to your elbows.
Start on your hands and knees. Alternate extending one arm and opposite leg out until they are straight. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. While holding, concentrate on lengthening your body by reaching forward with your arm and extending your leg straight back. Repeat 2 to 3 times per side.
2. Bicyle Abs – This is one of the most effective exercises for working all of the important core muscles on the front of the body. They will get your attention quickly.
Lay on your back with hands behind your head. Bring right shoulder and elbow up and twist as you simultaneously pull the left knee into chest. Don’t pull on your neck as you alternate twisting back and forth. To make them more demanding, extend your leg out further and further each time. Try to do between 25-50 reps.
3. Body Weight Squats – These will build strength and endurance throughout your entire lower body. You will see a big difference in your legs, and when you do higher repetitions you will also notice they help build lung power.
Start with a shoulder width or slightly wider stance, with the toes pointed out slightly. As you start to squat down keep your weight on your heels, back straight and look up slightly. Push the hips back as if you were going to sit down in a chair. Keep your knees wide and remember to stay back on your heels. Squat down slowly at first, going a little lower each time until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Try to do between 25-300 reps. Just build up slowly.
4. “Sun Salutation” Push-Ups – This exercise will strengthen and tone the upper body along with building endurance and increasing the flexibility of the spine, hips, and shoulders. (It is a variation of a push up extracted from the yoga pose known as “sun salutation”.)
Start with your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart. Your feet should be on the floor with your legs shoulder-width or wider apart, depending on your flexibility. The starting position is butt in the air, head looking back to your heels, with your body making an inverted “V” shape. Start off doing the straight arm version. Push off the legs, keeping the arms straight, and drop your hips towards the ground and look toward the ceiling. Then push back to the starting position.
Keep practicing the straight-arm version until you can do 25 repetitions; then start working on bending the arms more and more as you come down. If this feels too awkward, move your hands further away from your feet. Your goal is to work up to doing 25 reps while bending the arms on the downward phase.
5. Back Bend Over Ball – This is probably the single best exercise/stretch you can do for your body. When most people first begin to work on doing the back bends they experience a number of problems. Not only are you upside down and going backwards, but you cannot see what you are doing. Everyone who starts doing this exercise will notice how stiff they are in their lower and upper back, along with the shoulder area. This will quickly improve as long as you don’t give up! These benefits are hard to imagine when you are struggling trying to hold for longer times so make sure, at first, you stay within your comfort zone and build up slowly.
Start with your back lying on the top of the ball and reach your hands and feet out in a wider stance on the ground to balance. Let your body relax and completely loosen. Rock back and forth gently stretching, and do this a little more each time. While you are stretching concentrate on your breathing. Practice deep slow breaths. Inhale deeply through the nose, hold the breath for a count, then exhale, and hold for a count.
Focus on stretching the abs and arching your middle and upper back. Think about making yourself longer. Build up to holding the stretch for 3 minutes.
Once you are feeling confident with your back bends you can start letting more and more air out of the ball each time you do this stretch. This will force you to start taking more weight through your hands and feet. Eventually you want to get to the point where you are not using the ball at all – just holding on your forehead and hands and feet. Doing this on a regular basis will really build up a good strong flexible spine – the most important area of your body!
These 5 exercises provide a great, simple winter workout that you can do anytime, anywhere to get you warmed up and moving regardless of the weather, where you are, or time constraints.