When it comes to your overall health and fitness journey, think progress rather than perfection. It’s the small gains that you make each and every day that add up over time and become big gains. That’s why it’s better to get started today with the resources that you have available, rather than waiting for the perfect scenario.
The truth is that you don’t need a fancy gym membership or shiny new equipment in order to workout. All you need is a little space for yourself, a 10 to 20 minute block of time set aside for exercising, and a beginner’s mind, allowing you to embrace the challenges in front of you, while remaining excited and optimistic for what’s to come. After all, isn’t a fresh start what makes the New Year so exciting? So, let’s wipe the slate clean and get moving with the most effective at-home workouts that you can do right now without needing any equipment.
CARDIO WARM UP
Jogging In Place: With any exercise regimen, it’s important to warm up before you start. Jogging in place accomplishes just that, and also helps to develop a strong core and upper body, as well as a powerful lower body. Jogging in place may also help reduce knee pain and improve your balance, agility, and coordination. Set a timer and jog in place for 30 seconds.
High Knees: High knees are another excellent exercise that you can add to your cardio warm up routine. After you jog in place for 30 seconds, do high knees for 15 seconds. High knees will engage your core, strengthen your leg muscles, and get your heart rate up.
Jumping Jacks: While this exercise may have you thinking back to your elementary school gym days, there’s good reason why you were taught how to do jumping jacks. They’re a total body, plyometric exercise that you can do pretty much any time, any place. Jumping jacks combine cardiovascular conditioning and strength work, while increasing your speed, quickness, and power. Do 15 seconds of jumping jacks, and then go back to jogging in place – starting this sequence over. Do three complete cycles of this cardio warm up to get you loosened up and ready for the rest of your workout.
Bodyweight Squats: Bodyweight squats target your quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings and will help you build muscle, increase strength, and improve your hip mobility. To do a bodyweight squat, place your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly turned in. Keeping your eyes looking forward, pull in your lower abs and bend at your knees. Drop your hips to your lower body, while keeping your heels flat on the ground. Pause for a moment and then push back up with power to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 bodyweight squats in a row, take a one-minute break, and then repeat. Do three sets of this exercise.
Push-Ups: This classic exercise is one of the most effective bodyweight exercises that you can do. Push-ups target your chest, triceps, and the front of your shoulders (anterior deltoid muscles). Start in a high plank position with your hands flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart. With your body in one long line, keep your core engaged and inhale as you bend your arms to lower your chest to the ground. Then exhale as you push back up to the starting position. If you’re unable to do a traditional push-up at first, that’s not a problem – you can do modified push-ups instead. To do a modified push-up, start with your knees on the floor instead of at the high plank position. Do 10 push-ups (or modified push-ups), rest for one minute, and then do another set. Do three sets of this exercise.
Superman Exercise: Channel your inner superhero for this exercise that strengthens your lower back, glutes, and core. You may choose to use a mat or a towel for this exercise since you’ll be on the floor as you do it. To get started with the Superman, lie facedown with your forehead on the mat, yours arms stretched out in front of you, and your legs stretched out behind you. Your neck should be in a neutral position. Then exhale as you slowly lift your arms, legs, upper back, and head off the floor. Keep your arms and legs straight, but don’t lock them. Your body should look like a ‘U’ shape with both sides off the floor. Hold the ‘U’ shape for five seconds, while making sure that you’re breathing throughout the exercise. Exhale as you lower back down and then do this exercise again. For this workout, do three sets of 15. Make sure to add in a one-minute break (or as much time as you need) in between sets.
Wide Toe Touch: The same way you need to warm up before you exercise, you have to cool down at the end of every workout session in order to bring your heart rate back down to normal. Moving your muscles and joints through their full range of motion may help reduce any post-workout soreness or stiffness, as well. To do the wide toe touch, stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart and your arms held out at your sides. Swing your right arm down to tap your left toes. Then return to the starting position and swing your left arm down to tap your right toes. Continue to alternate for 30 seconds, feeling a stretch along the back of both your legs.
Standing Quad Stretch: The standing quad stretch targets your quadriceps – the front/top of your thigh. Standing tall with your core engaged, pull your heel as close to your butt as you can without your knee feeling uncomfortable. By standing as straight as possible (not leaning forward or back) and engaging your core as you do this stretch, you’ll also be stretching your hip flexors. For a deeper stretch, use the muscles in your leg to pull your knee back behind you. You can go as far as it feels comfortable.
Cross-Arm Stretch: This shoulder stretch targets your rotator cuff muscles. To do the cross-arm stretch, stand with your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart and your core engaged. Bring your right arm up to a little less than shoulder height, place your left hand on your right elbow, and then gently pull your right arm across your body using your left hand to support your arm. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side. Do this stretch three times on each side.