At-Home Exercises to Keep You Fit
There are many reasons someone might not be able to leave their homes to go to the gym, especially during this pandemic. But it does not mean you can’t stay fit while you’re at home. Plenty of bodyweight exercises, for advanced gymgoers or beginners, can be done to substitute a regular gym day (especially if your only exercise is running on a treadmill). Better yet, since the following routine will be a string of high-intensity exercises, you don’t have to spend much time exercising either.
Before we start, I would like to stress the importance of rest days and why you should never skip them. We recommend that you rest a day after this exercise because your muscles (read: not you as a whole) need rest to prevent overuse injuries and to allow for your muscles and body to recover from the exercise. As you work on your muscles, you are also simultaneously creating small tears in them. Therefore, your muscles need to rest.
Now that you understand the importance of rest days, let’s get started with your at-home exercise.
1. Legs (No rest in-between sets)
- Bodyweight Squats (1-minute repetition or to failure)
The first step to any proper squat is posture. Stand up straight, have your heels on the ground, and have a balanced footing. Now let’s squat. Between your standing position and your bottom position, you must always have your heels to the ground, feeling the weight of your body on it. At the bottom, your lower back should be able to dip below the height of your knees and you should remain stable.
The squat is a basic exercise for your quadricep muscle and one of the most important exercises to promote muscle growth throughout the body, which is why it’s placed first. For those of you ready for a more challenging take, try going back down to the squat position after going halfway up before returning to the standing position. The 1 ½ squat is a killer exercise.
- Jump Squats (to failure)
If you’ve done the regular squat correctly, this should be simple. From the bottom position of the squat, instead of returning to a standing position, you jump as high as you can go. But why? I hear you ask. For no other reason that this squat promotes explosiveness, which in turn turns up the intensity of the entire exercise. There is no advanced or beginner version to look for here, anyone could and should do the jump squat, no matter how many reps you can do (but please try for as much as possible).
60 second rest period
2. Abs (No rest in-between sets)
- Bicycle Crunch (1 minute or to failure)
Before trying this exercise please remember this phrase: “A crunch is not a sit-up”. Here is a picture to illustrate that point:
Like the picture, you will try to touch one of your elbows with the opposite knee on every repetition (right elbow touch left knee, left elbow touch right knee). It is also important to be slow if you want this to be done correctly.
If you are more advanced or are worried about being too fast, go up to a wall, place your feet on the wall as if you are sitting down facing upwards. Now do the exercise without moving your legs. This is a heavier exercise and you will usually get fewer repetitions out of it, but it does burn.
- Knee-in Crunch (1 minute or to failure)
The knee-in crunch is just like a regular crunch, where you go straight up and go back down (not the bicycle crunch with diagonal movement above) except you raise both your knees while you do it. This exercise burns your abs and is a great way to develop both your upper and lower abs.
60 second rest period
- Pushups (2 or 3 sets, each to 12 or failure. 60-second rest between sets)
I’m sorry, but this is the best bodyweight exercise that is not only common but effective. However, most people’s posture of the pushup is terrible. Here, a photo of the correct pushup position.
It’s a heavy workout, starting I only got 3 repetitions and did 3 sets, 9 pushups! But using the correct posture, I can feel that it wasn’t destroying my elbow tendons and that I can do more and more. Now I can do 3 sets of 10 repetitions, and I aim for more.
- Triceps Dip
DO NOT DIP. It is terrible for your joints and unless you want to have a rest period of a month, you will not do this. Disclaimer: You can do the dip and not kill your joints, but it is hard and in some experts’opinions, not worth it.
- Triceps Bow/Extension (1 minute or until failure)
Alright, so you don’t want to dip. This exercise is a great non-dip tricep exercise that works and doesn’t ruin shoulder joints.
That will be your starting position, now push while keeping your body straight, just like a pushup. If this is too heavy for you, do it from the knee first. With any luck, you should feel your triceps (that thing behind the biceps) burn.
I have knee pain, can’t do squats. Do lunges. The reverse lunge, in particular, is an excellent alternative exercise for those experiencing knee pain. It even comes in a jumping variety, conducive for our workout today.
I have wrist pain, can’t do pushups. Yes, you can. But you get to do an even cooler version of the pushup. You will do a pushup with your fists. Get into the same position as the picture (elbows tight on your body, arms pointing forward, laying down), and instead of using open hands, lay on your balled-up fists. I have wrist pain too and this is the pushup I go for. Did I mention it was cool?
I can’t do the bicycle crunch because I can’t reach my knee (for one reason or another). Do a regular crunch. It’s more than ok to substitute your exercise for one that you can physically do. I used to not be able to do bicycle crunches either because of my fairly large belly, so I did regular crunches to work on my abs.
This exercise should be intense enough to be done every other day, so please do. Try it for 2 weeks, get this to be routine and you’ll forget that you’re in quarantine for the next week or two (at least for the 15 minutes it takes to do this set of exercises). If the targeted part (legs, abs, and arms) isn’t hard enough for you, do add whatever exercise you want, just make sure that you get to the right posture and not be so fixated on your repetition amount per set.