Keep It Simple
Rosalie Brown shares some of her favourite back-to-basics exercises you can do at home with virtually no equipment.
Squat It Out
Squats are known as the king of exercises as they activate so many muscles. And with the strong legs they’ll give you, you can move better through all of your daily tasks and feel more confident.
To do a basic squat:
- Start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart standing in front of a chair.
- Keep your chest up, engage your abdominals, and shift your weight onto your heels as you push your hips back into a sitting position.
- Lower your hips until your thighs and buttocks reach the chair seat. You should feel the squat in your thighs and glutes.
- Exhale and push back up to the starting position.
Did you know that jumping is remarkably effective at preserving bone density and can even reverse bone-density loss? Plus, it benefits more than just your bones. Jumping also improves muscle strength, reaction time and balance. Even better—it’s a simple exercise that you can do anywhere, and you don’t need any special equipment, not even shoes.
If you haven’t jumped in a while, it’s a good idea to start small so you can get used to what it feels like again. Start with small hops in between a doorway for support if necessary. As you get stronger and more comfortable with jumping, then start jumping the last step when taking the stairs.
Tip: If jumping seems scary, do heel slams get great bone density benefits by. Simply stand up onto your toes and slam your heels into the floor.
Aim for 20 jumps or heel slams throughout the day.
To firm up that derriere, try the bridge thrust. It’s super effective and can be done on the floor. You can also easily do it first thing in the morning when you wake up. Besides firming the buttocks, the bridge thrust is also a great way to stretch your hip flexors that can become tight after sitting too long or to relieve back pain.
Start on your back with your knees bent. Lift your hips to make a straight line from top of your knees to pelvis. Squeeze your glutes.
As you progress with this exercise, make it harder by adding 24 pulses.
Then add full range lifts and taps aiming for 24 reps. If this gets too easy, try lifting one leg as you complete the exercise.
Work Those Abs
When it comes to the lower abdominals, diet plays a large role in how our abs look, but here are two great exercises to help firm the area.
Lie on the floor and slide your heels together, towards your buttocks. Slide your hands behind your head and eyes look to where your ceiling meets the wall. Lift using your abdominals and combine pulses with full range crunches. Alternate 8 reps for a total of 24 reps.
Fire up your oblique muscles and firm your body’s natural girdling system. Be mindful when doing the bicycle to not pull on your neck but rather to gently turn head side to side as you pull your opposite knees in.
Start by lying on the ground, with your lower back pressed flat into the floor and your head and shoulders raised slightly above it. Place your hands lightly on the sides of your head; don’t knit your fingers behind. Be careful not to yank your head with your hands at any point during the exercise. Lift one leg just off the ground and extend it. Lift the other leg and bend your knee towards your chest, and as you do so, twist through your core so the opposite arm comes towards the raised knee. You don’t need to touch elbow to knee– instead focus on moving through your core as you turn your torso. Think of it as trying to move your shoulder to your knee as you move rather than elbow to knee. Lower your leg and arm at the same time while bringing up the opposite two limbs to mirror the movement. Aim for 24 reps.
Get firming in the kitchen. Pushups off the countertop can be just as effective and adding this twist can make them more fun. We think that if the squats are called the king of exercises then push-ups deserve to be called the queen of exercises because so many major muscle groups, such as your biceps, core muscles, triceps, and back muscle groups are activated. Plus, you can target those muscles by changing your hand position. Beginners should start with a wider hand position like this:
If you’re really looking to firm up your triceps, bring your arms in closer to your body.
Think of how great your arms would look if you did 10 reps every time you walked into the kitchen.
Seated Inner Thigh Pulses
Are you prone to achy knees? Weak inner thigh muscles, known as your adductors, might be to blame. These inner-thigh muscles are very important for a lot of motions, but one of the key jobs they do is stabilize the pelvis and knee. The adductors keep the hips and knees balanced, creating a natural alignment during activities.
To strengthen your inner thighs:
Sit in a chair and extend one leg forward.
Squeeze your thigh as you rotate your toe outward.
Start with small pulses up and down.
Aim for 8 reps for total set of 24 reps each leg.
Change it up by doing the same exercise but while squeezing a firm pillow between your legs. Aim for 24 reps, three times a day.
Step It Up
Did you know that going up and down your stairs at home for three minutes after your meal has been shown to lower your blood sugar levels for older adults with pre-diabetes? Plus, going up and down the stairs will also get your heart pumping for awesome cardiovascular benefits and activate muscles that firm your thighs and buttocks. Your three-minute stair climb is simple to do and there’s no complex choreography: just climb up and come back down. After your stair climb, you’ll be warmed up, making it a perfect time to do some strength exercises. Try taking two steps at a time to intensify your leg and buttocks work or do some triceps dips by sitting on one step with your elbows on the step above and lifting your body up. You could also try elevated bridge lifts by placing your feet on bottom steps and lifting your hips. Aim for 12-24 reps of each.
Shape Your Shoulders
Whether we’re pushing, pulling, or lifting things over our heads, the shoulder muscles come into play. They’re also a key factor in how your body looks; broad shoulders make a person look strong and confident. When training shoulders, you don’t need heavy weights to challenge them, and this routine can be done without any weights or equipment (although you can add light weights or resistance bands to this series of exercises if you wish). Aim for 24 reps of these four exercises every day for stronger shoulders and better posture.
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Shoulder pulses, palms up.
Chest pulses, arms in front squeezing chest muscles.
Triceps pulses, arms behind back
Photos by ChrisVLinton