10 exercises that you can complete in lockdown
This entry was posted on 21/04/2020.
It doesn’t look like we will not be returning to the gym any time soon, so it’s more important than ever to start working out at home and keep fit.
There’s a lot of exercises out there and it’s not always clear about the benefits that they offer us; so, we’ve created this handy guide to the 10 exercises we’d recommend doing during lockdown to correctly target all your muscles. These can be performed as a circuit or on a rep basis.
Squatting is often referred to as the king of all exercises and is used in almost all circuit training, because it works multiple muscle groups at the same time. It targets your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves, as well as smaller muscles and ligaments. Squats also improve the mobility of your ankles and hips, which can reduce the possibility of injury in the future, and can also increase flexibility.
There are a number of different variations of squats, but they all have the same basic form: tense your core and squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. It should feel like you’re sitting onto an invisible chair. Your heels should maintain contact with the floor at all times and you should focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet. Make sure you breathe in deeply as you push your butt back and breathe out as you’re driving through your heels and rising up.
Other variations include a Sumo Squat, which involves widening your stance to target your inner thighs and glutes more, a Squat Jump, which increases your explosive power, upper and lower body strength and burns calories quicker, or a Pistol Squat, which is a one-legged squat that increases stability and balance.
2. Push Ups
Push ups are one of the hardest exercises to get right, but the correct form can provide incredible results. They help increase strength in your upper body and core, by working your chest, triceps and utter arms.
To get the perfect form, you need to place your hands just wider than shoulder-width and you should be looking straight ahead, instead of down. It’s also important to try to keep your body as straight as possible; one way to achieve this is by keeping your arms straight, clenching your butt and bracing your abs.
Kneeling push ups are a great place to start, before progressing to standard push ups. Once you feel that you’re ready, you can then progress to incline push ups for a real challenge.
Burpees may be one of the most dreaded exercises, especially if you decide to add a 180° jump, but the truth is that burpees do wonders for your body: they target your arms, back, chest, cores, glutes and legs, and are very popular for burning fat and building muscles.
To do a burpee correctly, you need to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your weight into your heels and rest your arms at your sides. Then drop into a squat with your hands on the ground just in front of your feet. Kick your feet back until you are in a raised plank position and then jump your feet back to your hands, before jumping into the air with your arms above you.
To make burpees more difficult, you could try adding a 180° jump or tuck jump between each rep. Or you could add a press up every time you reach the raised plank position. A single leg burpee is particularly difficult, but really empowers the core and leg muscles.
The plank is one of the best exercises for engaging your core, but still benefits your total body. However, like the push up, it’s one of the hardest exercises to get right. When done correctly, it can strengthen your core, bottom, upper thighs, arms and shoulders.
One of the easiest ways to fix your droopy back, is by holding your butt up, and then tucking it under. A proper plank requires keeping your core and quads tight and your hips lifted up. Plus, most importantly, don’t hold your breath. If you want to make your plank harder, you can do so by completing an alternating plank. This involves starting in a forearm plank, then rising to a hand plank, before moving back to a forearm plank.
Lunges are a great resistance exercise that strengthens your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. But it’s important to do lunges properly, so that you don’t put unnecessary strain on your joints. In order to do them properly, you need to keep your upper body straight, your shoulders back and engage your core. Then step forwards with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are at a 90° angle.
To add more challenge to your work out, try doing reverse lunges instead of forward lunges. Side lunges, walking lunges and jump lunges are also great variations.
6. Stair Climbs
If you’re missing the stair climber from the gym, then this is a great alternative that you can do at home. It burns twice as many calories as running and three times as many as walking, while doing less impact pressure to your legs, ankles and knees. Stair climbs help to build and tone muscles, while still burning fat and calories.
This can simply be done in your house using your stairs or, if you live in a flat or bungalow, then you can substitute stairs for a chair or raised block. To make this more challenging, you can consider climbing two steps at once to burn more calories and work your legs and glutes harder.
When it comes to exercises that work for your abs, crunches and planks are the first exercises that come to mind. However, deadbugs are phenomenal core exercises that aren't used often. They strengthen your core, while also improving your stability, with little chance of injury.
To do them, you simply lie on your back with your arms held straight up in the air and your legs also raised, but bent at a 90° angle. Then lower your opposite arm and leg towards the floor before returning to the middle. It is important that you don’t arch your back during this exercise as that may cause injury.
8. Mountain Climbers
Climb your way to a stronger core with mountain climbers. These are a great cardio exercise that pumps up your heart rate, challenges your balances and still gets your muscles burning. They work your lower body, as well as your upper body and core.
Start in a raised plank position, and bring one knee to your chest before returning it to the starting position. Then repeat this with the alternate leg. It’s important to keep your core engaged and hold your shoulders, hips and feet in a straight line.
9. Chair Dips
Chair dips (or tricep dips) are another effective exercise to do at home. They target the arm and shoulder muscles and are considered one of the most effective workouts to target these muscles. It’s also incredibly simple to do.
To do this you’ll need a chair. Sit on the chair with your feet flat on the floor, at a hip distance apart. Then position your hands so they’re beside your hips, with your fingers gripping the front of the seat. Move your body forwards so that your butt is hovering over the floor and your knees are slightly bent. Your heels should be touching the floor a few inches in front of your knees. Breathe in as you slowly lower your body until your elbows reach a 90° angle, then breathe out and return to your starting position.
Crunches are the final exercise we’re going to recommend today; crunches are a classic core exercise and specifically target your abs, but also help develop your obliques, pelvis, lower back and hips.
To get your crunch form correct, you need to lie on your back and plant your feet hip width apart. Bend your knees and cross your arms over your chest. Inhale while contracting your abs, then exhale and lift your upper body. Inhale and return to your starting position. It’s important to engage your core as lifting from your head or neck can cause injury. It’s also vital to move in a slow controlled movement, as rapid rises and falls will not work your muscles correctly. It’s also important to not arch your back when doing crunches.
To make this more challenging, try a bicycle crunch or a reverse crunch.
Make sure you weigh yourself regularly with accurate scales. Read our blog post about why bathroom scales can be misleading.
If you’re looking for more ways to slim down, read our blog post about which types of exercises reduce body fat.
Our 3 key recommendations for staying healthy at home blog post advises how to monitor your own health without taking unnecessary trips to the doctors.
Image credit: Racool_studio