Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution With This Gym-Free Workout
You don’t need to spend hours running on a treadmill or lifting heavy weights, but you should participate in a physical activity for 30 minutes a day according to The Department of Health and Human Services. A mere 30 minutes a day can help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, help control your weight and strengthen your bones and muscles.
It sounds easy, but finding time to get to the gym on a consistent basis can be a challenge. So we’ve created an equipment-free workout for you. It’s made up of a series of body-weight exercises and stretches you can do anywhere.
It’s very important to begin each workout with dynamic stretches. Not only does this warm up your muscles, but it helps to reduce your risk of pulls, strains and injuries. Here are some of our favorites:
• Alternating opposite elbow to opposite knee
• Alternating opposite hand to opposite foot
• Arm circles
• Fire hydrants
• Knee hugs
• Lateral lunges
• Leg swings
• Simulated jump rope
• Torso twists
If you are unsure of how to perform one of these exercises, check the bottom of this post, or most accredited fitness websites offer image or video demonstrations of how to complete them. Pick five and perform each exercise for 20 repetitions with 20 seconds of rest in between. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes.
Once you’ve completed your warm up, move on to the main portion of the workout. This group of exercises, or set, is a full-body workout that targets your legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms and core. Rest 20 seconds between exercises. To complete this workout, do:
• 10 squats
• 10 Supermans
• 10 push-ups
• 10 overhead shoulder presses
• 10 bicep curls
• 10 tricep chair dips
• 1 - 30 second plank
Repeat this set of exercises three times. Make sure you take short breaks (2 to 3 minutes) between sets to catch your breath and grab some water. And, if you’re unsure about these exercises, check out the bottom of this post for a definition.
After completing your full-body workout, cool down and stretch out your muscles. A cool down with static stretches is just as important as your warm up. It helps return your heart rate back to its standing rhythm, circulates blood and helps to reduce soreness and post-workout injuries.
Here are some static stretches to try:
• Butterfly stretches
• Cross-body arm stretches
• Seated toe touch stretches
• Standing quad stretches
• Standing side stretches
• Wall calf stretches
Pick five and hold each position for 10 seconds. If you need instructions to complete these exercises, check the bottom of this post. You can also go to your local gym and most employees would be happy to show you how to do them correctly.
Being fit and healthy is important for everyone, but please talk with your doctor before performing this workout, or any set of exercises.
Tips for success
- When squatting, keep your weight on your heels and your chest and shoulders back. Holding good form throughout this workout not only helps to keep you injury free, but it also creates a deeper burn in the movements.
- Grab a couple bottles of water or cans of soup when you do your overhead shoulder presses and bicep curls. The added resistance will challenge you and help to tone your muscles.
- We advise a specific number of repetitions per exercise, but if you feel like you can do more, go for it! When you haven’t worked out in a while, it’s better to go with lower repetitions to get started. As you grow stronger, lower repetitions can start to get easy. Upping your numbers helps progress your strength and allows you to challenge yourself further.
- Always perform tricep chair dips on a sturdy, stable chair. Avoid rolling chairs as they can move away from you under pressure.
- When doing your push-ups and planks, think of your body as a straight line. Keep your back from dipping or arching to prevent injury. If you need to modify this move to help with form, you can straighten out your arms on a plank so you bare weight on your palms instead of forearms. You can also perform a plank on your knees instead of your toes. With push-ups, you can lower your knees to the floor and push up from there instead of extending your legs all the way out.
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do the exercises mentioned. Here’s a quick description of each:
• Lateral lunges: Standing with your feet shoulders width apart, step one of your legs out as far as you can comfortably and push your weight to that side. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement on your opposite side.
• Alternating opposite elbow to opposite knee: Begin by standing up straight. Slowly raise your left leg – bending at the knee. Bring your right elbow down across your body until it touches the top of your left knee. Return to the starting position and alternate with your other side.
• Torso twists: Stand with your feet firmly planted and your hands on your hips or in front of your chest. With your lower body remaining still, alternate rotating your torso and upper body from your left to right side.
• Inch-worms: Begin in a standing position. Slowly bend at your waist until your hands touch the ground. Slowly walk your hands out in front of you until you are in a push-up position. Then, walk your hands back in to your feet. Slowly return to the upright, standing position.
• Leg swings: With your hands firmly planted on a wall, lift one leg and swing it in front of your body – parallel to the wall. Keep your opposite foot stable as you complete your swing. Bring your left foot back to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.
• Fire hydrants: On a stable surface, begin in the table position with your palms and knees firmly planted on the floor. With your leg still bent, bring it straight out and off the floor as far as you can comfortably go. Use your arms and opposite leg for balance. Return your leg to the floor and repeat with the opposite leg.
• Simulated jump rope: While standing up straight with your arms at your side, hop up and down as if you were jumping rope. Go at a pace that feels comfortable.
• Arm circles: Plant your feet with your arms extended out all the way as if you were forming the letter “t.” Slowly move your arms in forward circles, starting off in small, tight circles to looser larger circles for several seconds. Repeat using a backwards circle motion.
• Knee hugs: While standing on a stable surface, slowly raise your leg, bending at the knee. Bring your arms forward and wrap them around your bent leg. Hug it in to your body and hold for approximately three seconds. Release your arms and slowly return your leg back to the floor. Repeat with your opposite leg.
• Alternating opposite hand to opposite foot: Stand up straight with your legs firmly planted. Bring your arms up and straight over your head. Slowly bend forward at the waist and bring your right hand down to meet your left foot. Once you come down and across as far as you are comfortable, slowly return to the upright position with your hands still over your head. Repeat this movement with the opposite hand and foot.
• Squats (targets hamstrings and glutes): With your feet firmly planted about shoulders-width apart, slowly push your hips back while keeping your upper body straight, as if you were going to sit in a chair. When you get to the lowest point you feel comfortable, hold the position for approximately two seconds. Slowly return to an upright, standing position.
• Superman pose (targets lower back and glutes): Lie on a stable surface with your hands outstretched in front of you. Slowly raise your legs and arms off the ground and hold the position for approximately three seconds. Slowly lower your arms and legs to the floor.
• Push-ups (targets chest): Lie on a stable surface with your hands on either side of your shoulders. With your toes tucked, slowly push on your hands to force your upper body and core off the ground until your body is in a straight line at the top. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
• Overhead should press (targets shoulders): Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Raise your arms up and bend them at the elbows to form a 90-degree angle. Slowly push your arms up and straight above your head and slowly return to the starting position.
• Bicep curls (targets biceps): Stand up straight with your shoulders back and your arms down by your sides. Without engaging your upper arms, slowly bend your forearms at the elbow and bring them up towards your chest. Slowly lower them back down to the starting position at your side.
• Triceps dips (targets triceps): Start off by sitting in a stable chair with your feet flat on the floor. With your palms facing down, gripping the edge of the seat, slowly walk your legs out until your lower body is off the seat and your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower your body towards the floor by bending your arms while using your legs for stability. When your arms have bent to a 90-degree angle at the elbow, slowly push your arms straight up until your body is level again with the seat of the chair.
• Plank (targets core): Lie on a stable surface with your forearms on the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Raise your chest, abdomen and legs off the floor until they are parallel. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
• Standing quad stretches: Standing parallel to a wall with one hand firmly planted on it, lift one leg, bending at the knee behind you. Use your other hand to grasp it at the ankle and hold. Release and slowly return your leg back to the floor. Repeat with the opposite leg.
• Standing side stretches: Stand up straight with your arms up and outstretched above your head. Slowly bend to one side at the hips and hold the position. Return to your starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
• Cross-body arm stretches: While standing up straight, bring one arm out and across your chest. Bring the opposite arm up so that your hand or arm is putting pressure on the elbow of your outstretched arm. Release and repeat with the opposite arm.
• Wall calf stretches: Standing with your hands firmly planted on a wall, bring one leg forward and place your toes at the bottom of the wall, heel still on the ground. Lean forward, putting pressure on that leg. Release and repeat with the opposite foot.
• Butterfly stretches: In a seated position, bring your legs in and together so that your soles of your feel are touching. Lean down and forward, using your elbows to push your inner thighs closer to the floor. Hold this position and release.
• Seated toe touch stretches: In a seated position, stretch your legs out in front of you. Bring your arms up and forward, reaching towards the toes. Lean forward and stretch as far as you can reach. These are not needed if you do the wall calf stretch.