Break a Sweat at Home
You've probably heard this before and wondered whether it's really true — that you don't need a fancy gym to get in shape. In fact, for most of us, it is true. A convenient at-home exercise program that you can do three times a week is certainly better than going to the gym once a month. Here are some exercises, which don't require any equipment, that you should try to make a part of your everyday life. And keep in mind that you should also walk for at least 30 to 60 minutes every day.
Plank and Side Plank
Targets: Abdominals, scapular stabilizers, back extensors
Starting position, plank: Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands a little more than shoulder width apart and slightly in front of your shoulders.
Movement: Extend one leg at a time behind you, so that you're resting on the balls of your feet, in the "up" position of a push-up. Contract your abdominals so that your back is parallel to the floor. Keep your head and neck in line with your spine.
Side plank: From the plank position, bring your feet together so that they are touching each other and roll onto the outside of your right foot while lifting your left arm up toward the ceiling. Repeat on the other side.
How many: Hold for 15 seconds, building up to 60 seconds, and do one repetition of each
Targets: Pectoralis major, front deltoid, triceps, chest, abdominals
Starting position: Begin facedown, with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and slightly in front of your shoulders. Extend your legs behind you and balance on the balls of your feet. Keep your legs together. Contract your abdominals so your back is parallel to the floor. Keep your head and neck in line with your spine.
Movement: Inhale as you lower your chest as close to the floor as possible. Exhale as you squeeze your chest muscles inward and push back up to starting position.
How many: Three sets of 10 repetitions
Targets: Gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps, legs
Starting position: Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart and your arms hanging at your sides. Keep your torso erect and your body weight over your heels.
Movement: Inhale as you bend your knees and lower your body — as if you were going to sit in a chair — until your thighs are as close to parallel with the floor as possible. Do not go lower than this, or you will put too much stress on your knees. Exhale as you squeeze your buttocks and lift yourself back to the starting position. Always keep your knees in line with your second toe. (I realize that "your second toe" may sound strange, but if your knees extended to your big toe, it would be too far.) Do not let your knees extend beyond your toes. Variation: Hold dumbbells in your hands.
How many: Two sets of 10 repetitions