We all want to get a bit fitter and stronger but equipment can be so expensive! These simple bodyweight exercises are easy for you to do at home and can be incorporated into your daily routine.
Everyone knows how to do a push up! A push up is a great all body exercise, working mainly the chest muscles but also the triceps, shoulders and core. The main points to remember are to keep your fingertips facing forwards and set your hands wider than shoulder width. As you lower your chest to the floor, bring it forwards between your hands. Your hands should not be stretched out far in front of you.
For a beginner, a box push up is best. For this, take your knees under your hips. As you get stronger, progress to a higher intensity by taking your knees further back behind you until you are basically lying on your thighs. From here, try lifting the knees and doing full push ups on your toes. It is really important you keep your abs tight so pull your tummy up, as if you are moving your navel towards your spine. Make sure your back is flat, so your bottom is not sticking up in the air or dropping down.
The number of repetitions you do depends on your level. As a beginner, aim for 3 sets of 10 push ups and gradually increase this as you get stronger. Try to vary the speed, so maybe do a slow set, then a fast set, then another slow set. Try setting them to music with a speed of about 128 beats per minute to help you keep time.
If you feel pain in your shoulders when doing push ups, make sure they are down away from your ears. Lower back pain could indicate your back is not flat so check in a mirror or ask someone else to check your posture then make sure you are bracing your abdominals during the movement.
This is a fantastic exercise for your core strength. Take your forearms down on the floor and lift your torso. The higher intensity option is to balance on your toes and forearms but you can keep your knees down if necessary. Brace the abdominals and make sure your back is flat. Squeeze the gluteal muscles and thighs so you have a rock solid core and hold. If you feel your abdominals start to relax and your lower back starts to sag downwards, release and start again after a brief rest, or finish your plank with your knees down.
The time you hold a plank for again depends on your ability. Maybe start with 3 sets of 20 seconds and work up to holding it for 3 sets of 90 seconds.
To add an extra challenge for the core, make the plank more advanced by lifting one arm or leg for a set amount of time then changing legs or arms. An even harder option is to raise one arm and the opposite leg. Remember, if your lower back starts to sag, go down to a lower option as there is a real injury risk.
Time and again this is voted the best exercise for the abdominal area. Lie on your back and take your knees over your hips. Place your fingertips behind your ears and make sure there is a large gap between your chin and chest. Lift your chest and slowly lower one leg as close to the ground as possible and twist the opposite shoulder to meet the knee, then repeat. Try to keep the shoulder blades off the floor throughout and take the leg as low as possible. Again, alternate slow sets with fast. Aim for 30 repetitions, starting with 3 sets and increasing this as you start to find it easier.
Make sure you are keeping your abdominals tight, pulling your navel towards your spine. This ensures you are working the abdominals at the same time as the obliques.
If this is too tough, try just doing the upper body motion by twisting one shoulder to meet the knee but with your feet on the ground.