It’s the start of a new year and many of us are probably trying to implement healthy lifestyle changes into our regular routine. However, the cold weather and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeping us at home and inside makes exercise difficult for many people. Here are some exercises you can do at home with little to no equipment.
Incline or countertop pushups. This exercise targets the main muscles in your chest but doesn’t put the same stress on your elbows and reduces the body weight you are lifting in a traditional pushup. All you need is a stable surface like a wall, table, or countertop. Put your hands on the surface and do your pushups like you would if you were on the floor.
Bicep curls. These exercises will work the bicep muscles at the front of your upper arms as well as the muscles in your lower arms. These can be done with weights or your can use canned food from your cupboards. If you’re looking at getting some free weights, select ones that you can life ten times with good form. If you’re a beginner, five to ten pounds per weight is a good starting point. You’ll use these weights for the next three upper body exercises.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your abdominal muscles engaged.
- Hold one weight in each hand and relax your arms at your sides with palms facing forward.
- Bend your arm at the elbow and lift the weights towards your shoulders. Keep your elbows tucked close to your ribs and exhale as you lift.
- Lower your weights to the starting position. Try doing three sets of 8-10 reps, resting between each set.
Lateral arm raises. This exercise will focus on your deltoid muscles.
- Stand in the same position as you started your bicep curls in but with your palms toward your body.
- Raise your arms out on each side a couple inches and hold for a few seconds.
- Raise your arms more, keeping your arms completely straight, and stopping when your elbow reach shoulder-height and your body forms a “T.” Hold this for a few seconds.
- Slowly lower your weights (about two times as slow as when you lifted them), breathing out as you lower them.
Bent over rows. This will target the muscles in your upper and middle back.
- With a weight in each hand, bend forward at a 45-degree angle. Keep your back straight, brace your abdominal muscles, and breathe in.
- Lift both weights straight up while breathing out. Your arms shouldn’t go higher than your shoulders. Try to keep your wrists from moving too much and don’t squat as you lift.
- Lower the weights slowly while inhaling.
- Don’t stand up in between reps.
Overhead press. This exercise works on strength throughout your shoulders.
- Stand up straight, fee shoulder-width apart, and with a straight back.
- Hold your weights at your shoulders with your thumbs towards your body and your knuckles facing up.
- Raise your weights slowly above your head while breathing out and hold above your head.
- Return your weights to your shoulders while breathing in.
Body weight squats. Squats strengthen every muscle in your lower body. Stand straight up and bend your knees like you’re sitting in a chair. Stand back up and repeat 8-10 times. Avoid knee pain from squats by keeping the weight on your heels and your knees behind your toes.
Backward lunges holding on to a chair. Lunges help stretch tight hip flexors and work your entire lower body. Place a chair backwards in front of you for this exercise to grab on to and help you maintain balance.
- Stand up with your legs parallel.
- Hold on to your chair if needed, bend your right knee, and step your left leg straight back onto the ball of your foot, as far as you are comfortable.
- Straighten your back leg but don’t lock your knee. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, breathing deeply.
- Bring your back leg forward and return to the standing position. Repeat on the opposite side.
Calf raises. These will stretch and strengthen the muscles in you lower legs. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly raise your heels keeping your knees straight but not locked and pause for one second before lowering your heels back down. Repeat 10-30 times.
Planks. This will work your core muscles. Find a place on the floor that you can extend your full body. Use an exercise mat or a couple folded towels for padding under your hands/arms and feet/knees. Lay on your stomach with your forearms and toes on the floor. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Engage your abdominal muscles and pull your belly button toward your spine. You can be up either on your toes or your knees. Avoid arching your back, letting your hips sag, or tilting your head up. Your torso should be straight and rigid, forming a straight line from your ears to your toes (or to your tailbone if you are doing a modified version on your knees). Hold this position for ten seconds to start and as time goes on, work up to 30, 45, and 60 seconds.
With any new exercise routine, it’s important to start slowly and cautiously to avoid injury. If you are exercising for the first time, you may even want to consult your doctor to discuss what they might recommend for you.
Jeri Inmon, PT is a rehabilitation manger at Fisher-Titus. Fisher-Titus Rehabilitation offers Clinical Personal Training at the Walcher Rehabilitation Center Gym. Sessions are $35 for one hour. Call 419-660-2700 to schedule.