When the weather is cold and you’re not getting outside as much as usual, it’s all the more important to get plenty of exercise indoors – but cold weather can mean it’s also difficult to get to the gym. If you’re in this situation, or if you just hate the gym but want to stay fit while your regular running, riding or cycling is disrupted, never fear. This simple guide will help you to stay in shape at home using very basic, affordable pieces of equipment which you may well already have.
Every workout needs to begin with a warm-up. Change into suitable clothing (one of the joys of working out at home is that you never need to feel self-conscious about this) and massage your arms and legs until they feel warm and flexible. Do some gentle stretches to flex your torso and loosen up your limbs.
The first thing you will need to focus on is getting the cardio workout that you need to keep up your fitness. There are five basic ways you can achieve this at home: running on the spot or on a treadmill; cycling on an exercise bike; jumping; dancing; or jumping rope. Varying these so that you do a different thing each day will help you to get more out of your routine. If you are jumping or dancing, make sure you move your arms as well as your legs. You should aim to keep up this kind of exercise for ten to 20 minutes. How hard you push yourself is up to you and will depend on your baseline level of fitness – the real objective of this kind of exercise is to speed up your heart and lungs and keeping them working hard, though it also burns calories. Afterwards you should take a couple minutes to relax and let your heart get back to normal speed before you start doing other exercises.
Arms and torso
Two pieces of equipment make all the difference to what you can get out of arm exercises at home. The first is a pull-up bar, which you can fit into any doorframe in your home. If you’re new to using it, do just five pull-ups the first time and try to increase the number over time. The more slowly you do them, the more effective they’ll be. The second key piece of equipment is a set of dumbbells. Don’t overload them – it’s better to do more lifts at a lighter weight than just one or two that are a real struggle. For a simple workout, lie flat on your back with one weight in each hand and bend your elbows to raise them straight up. After five repetitions, repeat the process but instead of lifting the weights straight up, move each one in turn across your chest towards the opposite shoulder. You can increase the number you do over time. To help you get more out of these exercises, try choosing compression shirts. A compression shirt will support your muscles so that they move more efficiently, and reduce the risk of strain.
The simplest and most effective exercise for building strength in your legs is squatting. Move slowly up and down from a squatting position five times to begin with. If you’re already at a point where this is easy, do it while holding weights at waist height and then while holding the same weights with your arms straight up in the air. You can increase the weight or the number of repeats as you get stronger, but do it day by day and don’t get overambitious all at once – you might not feel the strain in your legs until later. Another simple but highly effective exercise involves lying flat on your back with a weight gripped between your feet and slowly lifting up your legs until they’re at a right angle to your body. Again, varying your choice of exercise day to day will get a better effect.
Finishing your workout with stretches will reduce the risk of tension lingering in your muscles leading to strains. Touch your toes with your legs straight in a sitting or standing position. Lift your arms up from your sides to touch above your head. Put your hands on your hips, tilt the upper part of your body backwards as far as is comfortable and gently move your hips in a circle. Repeat as needed until your muscles feel relaxed.
There are lots more exercises you can add in as you see fit, but this simple workout will keep you in shape and fit for getting out and about again when spring arrives.
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.