With some personal fitness trainers charging $75-$100 per hour and gym memberships costing at least a few hundred bucks a year, it’s no wonder people are working out more at home.
With winter in full swing, finding the best home workout is a necessity if you don’t want to lose the battle of the bulge.
The beauty of working out from home is that you don’t need much space or equipment. Are you a busy beaver? Home workouts also don’t require a lot of time if your goal is to get lean and super fit.
Twenty-minute bursts of exercise can be just as effective as much longer cardio sessions; new research has proven that shorter bursts are actually more effective.
If you want to use some equipment at home, consider using the following:
• Exercise ball (65 cm if you’re an average-size male; 55 cm for females.)
• Jump rope (Unless you have "popcorn" ceiling and don’t know how to skip rope like Rocky.)
• Yoga mat (If you have hardwood floors.)
• Push-up bars (Don’t have bars but do have dumbbells? They can double as push up bars.)
• Foam roller (For core strengthening and massage.)
If you’re going to do a short home workout, you should pick exercises that challenge your whole body. Don’t waste your time just doing dumbbell biceps curls. If you absolutely must do them, at least combine it with a full-weight body squat.
You’ll also want to pick exercises that get your heart pumping. Those arm curls don’t tax your cardiovascular system nearly enough if you want to get in better shape in less time at home.
Because you lack the time to do a standard complete gym workout — warm-up, cardio, weights, cool-down, abs, stretch — your home workout exercises should also incorporate flexibility.
Ideally, you’ll want to find exercises that combine at least two of the following three benefits:
Which exercise combines all 3?
One of the best exercises that combines all three benefits is the downward dog/upward dog combo. Matt Furey, a former martial arts champion and collegiate wrestling champ at Iowa, is a guru on weights-free workouts. His program "Combat Conditioning" features the downward dog into upward dog.
Furey’s version of this exercise is called Hindu Pushups and Furey would no doubt be willing to admit that he didn’t invent this exercise; ancient strongmen of India did.
Many people are familiar with a downward facing dog. If you widen your stance by about a foot in the downward dog and then swoop forward into the upward dog and repeat 20 times (7-10 if you’re a yoga novice), you’ll strengthen your arms and core, stretch your hamstrings and core as well as your lower back and calves.
And oh yeah, your heart will be pumping as well.
For those who enjoy pushups — one of the best exercises to develop strength and get the heart rate up — you can perform a regular pushup and as you reach the peak of the pushup, push yourself into a downward dog.
Take a 30-second breather after doing several reps if necessary. Then do bodyweight squats, followed by core exercises like slow-motion/minimal movement (a couple inches at most) crunches either on the exercise ball or on the foam roller.
Don’t have either? Hook your feet under your couch and perform a set of 5-7 crunches that take 10 seconds on the return phase (the "lowering" or "negative" phase). You won’t be able to do 100 crunches, nor should you ever try to; abs are physiologically designed for short bursts.
Repeat 3-5 circuits of the Hindu pushups or regular pushups to downward-facing dog; bodyweight squats and core and you’ll get a highly effective, short home workout.
Do you have 5-gallon water bottles delivered to your home? Use them to do one arm deadlifts.
Use your imagination to come up with a home workout that suits your needs and interests.
Judd Handler is a health writer and coach. He welcomes feedback at CoachJudd@gmail.com.