So you’re just looking to start your fitness journey or you’ve been working out for a number of years. Here are my 5 top exercises to try at home that provide ‘best bang for their buck’ and will help you to get fitter and healthier.
1. Squats –
The staple exercise for any lower body workout. For me one of the best exercises in my armoury. Working primarily on your lower body but also will work your core. You can perform this exercise using either bodyweight or dumbbells at home. Here’s how.
Stand tall – Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees and knees over ankles.
Correct your posture – Roll shoulders back and down away from ears. Allowing your back to round (like a turtle’s shell) will cause unnecessary stress on your lower back. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
Get your arms ready – Extend arms out straight in front of you, parallel to the floor, palms facing down (like your hands are on someone’s shoulders at a seventh grade dance). Or, if it’s more comfortable, pull elbows close to body, with palms facing each other and thumbs pointing up.
Hinge at your hips – Initiate the movement by inhaling and unlocking your hips, bringing them back slightly. Keep sending hips backward as knees bend.
Broaden across your chest – While your butt starts to stick out, make sure chest and shoulders stay upright and back stays straight. Keep your head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.
Get low – The best squats are the deepest ones your mobility allows. Optimal squat depth would be your hips sinking below your knees (if you have the flexibility to do so comfortably).
Explode upward – Engage your core. With bodyweight in heels, explode back up to standing, driving through heels. Imagine your feet are spreading the floor (left foot to the left, right foot to the right) without actually moving them.
Now no number of core exercises are going to make you have a six pack. You need to have a low enough body fat percentage to show your abs. That being said strengthening your core is key to your training. As well as your everyday life. The plank is a great foundation to start strengthening your core. Performing one correctly is vital to get the most out of the exercise. Follow these steps to make sure you are.
Place forearms on the floor with elbows aligned below shoulders and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder width. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together. Make sure your bum is level with your shoulders. I tell my clients to clench their bum cheeks. Engage your core. Do this by imagining to suck your belly button in and squeezing your core. Your back should be completely flat. Imagine you’re trying to hold a cup full of water on your back and you don’t want to spill any.
Another exercise for the lower body and posterior chain. Like the squat this one will work the core subconsciously as your working unilaterally. If you have any knee issues I would suggest performing a reverse lunge rather than a forward lunge. There are often common mistakes made when performing this exercise. Here’s how to do it the right way.
Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Engage your core. Take a big step forward with right leg. Start to shift your weight forward so heel hits the floor first. Lower your body until right thigh is parallel to the floor and right shin is vertical. It’s OK if knee shifts forward a little as long as it doesn’t go past right toe. If mobility allows, lightly tap left knee to the floor while keeping weight in right heel. Press into right heel to drive back up to starting position. Repeat on the other side.
4. Press ups
A great upper body exercise working predominantly your chest but also your shoulders and arms. A great push exercise that I use in any home based workout. Want to perform them correctly read below. You can also change the hand positioning on this exercise to hit particular areas. For example close grip will hit your triceps more.
Start in a high plank position – To get into a plank, place hands firmly on the floor, directly under shoulders. Ground toes into the floor to stabilise your lower half. Brace core (tighten abs as if preparing to take a punch), engage glutes and hamstrings, and flatten your back so your entire body is neutral and straight.
Lower your body – Keep back flat and eyes focused about 3 feet in front of you. Maintain a neutral neck and lower your body until chest grazes the floor. Don’t let your butt dip or stick out at any point during the move — your body should stay in a straight line from head to toe. Draw shoulder blades back and down, keeping elbows tucked close to your body (don’t “T” your arms).
Push back up – Keeping core engaged, exhale as you push back to starting position. Pro tip: Imagine you’re screwing your hands into the floor as you push back up. Repeat for 10–20 reps or as many as you can do with good form.
5. Pull ups
The exercise I like to call the squat of the upper body. This truly is the greatest exercise for improving upper body strength. If you haven’t got a pull ups bar you can use a TRX or resistance bands. But here is how to perform a pull up correctly.
Leap up and grip the bar with your hands shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you. Hang with your arms fully extended, you can bend your legs at the knee if they’re dragging on the ground.
Keep your shoulders back and your core engaged throughout. Then pull up. Focus on enlisting every upper body muscle to aid your upward endeavours.
Move slowly upward until your chin is above the bar, then equally slowly downward until your arms are extended again.
If you’re struggling to reach 5 reps then apply a resistance band to the bar to reduce your bodyweight. Making the exercise easier.
Help and Advice
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