Home Exercise Program

Staying in shape needn't involve forking out for a costly gym membership, as there's a wide range of exercises you can do in your own home using next to no equipment.

From using your own body resistance to taking advantage of items found around the home – stairs, chairs and even baked bean cans – you can stay in shape all year round.

In a bid to work the main muscles in the body, we've put together some exercises you can do together as session/circuit. Check them out below ...

Stair Climb

Walk up the stairs slowly, but miss out a step with each stride, so you really have to lengthen and reach. This is great for toning the whole lower body and improving dynamic flexibility.

Bean Tin Plank

Hold the full plank position but with the hands resting on two cylindrical food tins (laying down, not on the flat edges). By having to prevent the tins rolling out to the side, the core muscles in both the trunk and around the shoulder girdle will be called upon to work hard.

Single Leg Squat

Standing on one leg, hold the back of a dining chair to assist your balance. Slowly squat down by bending the supporting knee, aiming to lower the buttocks and push them slightly backwards. Go as low as comfortable and then return to upright position. Ensure abdominals are pulled in tight at all times and there is no twisting of the hips, knees or ankles. This is recognised as the most effective bum toning exercise on the planet.

Sweet Shoulders

Hold a bag of sugar in each hand, down by your sides, palms facing in. Slowly lift out to the side and up, with the arms only very slightly bent at the elbow. Once the dumbbells reach shoulder height, stop and then bring them in to meet in front of your face, still with arms extended almost straight. Now simply reverse, returning to the wide position and then back down to your side.

The Bicycle

This is the best move to target the rectus abdominis (the "six pack") and the obliques (the waist).
Start by lying face up on the floor and place your fingers behind your ears. Bring the knees in towards the chest and lift the shoulder blades off the ground without pulling on the neck. Straighten the left leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the floor, while simultaneously turning the upper body to the right, bringing the left elbow towards the opposite knee. Now switch sides drawing the right elbow towards the left knee. Alternate sides in a pedalling fashion.

Aim for three sets of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 times per week.

The Benefits

As you're working in the higher repetition range, the benefits will be at the endurance end of the strength continuum, enabling you to better perform daily tasks (e.g. carrying shopping bags) and also leading to a leaner, more sculpted look.

Indeed, exercising in this way can give you the same health benefits as working out at the gym, as your muscles respond positively to overload, i.e. being worked to a point of fatigue, becoming stronger and changing shape thereafter. However, they have no way of identifying whether the load that brought about the fatigue was a dumbbell, medicine ball or simply one's own bodyweight.

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