There is so much said about busy lives and hectic schedules these days, it’s as if our 24 hour allocation has somehow shrunk. And very often this is held up as a reason for not exercising or being physically active.
But the fact is we do have time in our daily schedules to make a meaningful difference. And it doesn’t depend on ‘magic tablets or expensive ‘miracle breakthrough’ equipment or hours in a gym.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we’ve got the ultimate tool at our disposal every minute of every day. Our body.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
With very limited space we can perform the proven and effective array of exercises that I swear by. I lived by these ever reliables as a dancer, fitness competitor, an Adventure Racer, climber, trainer and mother. Their value remains absolutely the same.
The conventional press up sees you lift approximately 65% of your body weight when performed properly. It can of course be altered by narrowing the hand position, taking one leg off the ground (or hooking one foot over the back of the other), pushing up with the hands leaving the ground, raised legs (placing the feet on a step or chair) and even one armed press ups for the ambitious.
It is by no means a one dimensional workout discipline. With good form a press up can hit shoulders, chest, back and arms, the core and legs too.
Their other beauty is that advances can be made very quickly. If you can only do a very small number initially, don’t worry. If five is your best, do five in the morning, do five at lunchtime, do five before you go to bed. When you get out of bed in the morning do five more…and repeat. Within a couple of days I assure you that five will become seven then 10 a few days after that. And then it is onwards and upwards! The same applies if your starting point is 20. Execute 20 three times a day for a few days and just see how long it takes you to hit 25 and 30. You will be delighted at your progress.
These are a real ‘meat and potatoes’ element of the training repertoire. Great strengthening and shaping exercises for the quads and glutes. Always concentrate on form throughout with very deliberate and focused movements because they are actually harder than they seem to perform perfectly.
Being a bouncy sort with a lifelong interest in springing round (or Dance as it is often known!) these are probably my favourite. Deep bodyweight squats are a terrific exercise anyway for the legs and glutes. But if you bring some serious ballistics to the exercise you will really hit the spot. Simply drop down into the squat position and then drive up powerfully so that you leave the ground. Land, and repeat. This will get the heart pumping too!
Subtle changes in foot position will also place the emphasis on outer, inner and deeper muscles. If you are embarking on a fitness programme or recovering from knee trouble for example I’d suggest performing standard squats to start with before building towards these squat jumps.
This is likely to be the hardest bodyweight exercise you can attempt. But the same principle applies as mentioned with press ups. Do what you can – even if is one – and repeat it a few times during a day. Again I can assure you you will not be stuck on one for too long. I was at a fitness show not long ago where I was endorsing a pull-up product. There was a girl working on the stand who could not perform a single one at the beginning of the day – not the ideal person for the job you might think! But in a way she was because by the end of a determined day she could knock out three or four. That is how quickly these advances can be made.
There is versatility here too. Change hand grip widths and positions – wide, narrow, over-hand, under-hand. Each hits the shoulders, chest, back and arms very differently.
Winter is gradually on its way out and Spring and Summer are up next. Now is the time to shed the Winter fat and get yourself ready for that warm weather wardrobe. These strengthening and toning exercises will not be a drain on your time, they don’t require space, they cost nothing and they work!