In today's high stress, high pressure, no free-time world, working out can be a bit of a logistical nightmare for many of us. Moreover, those of us with young children have even less time to exercise and stay fit. Every time I get ready to go to the gym, my wife, while happy that I'm trying to stay in shape, generally is disappointed that she is not going to get a break from our two and a half year old. After all, what about her yoga class?
This ongoing tug of war, prompted me to come up with a full body workout that can be done, right in your home in full eye shot of the kids, and it requires no equipment. Some of you may have a treadmill, stationary bicycle, or some weight equipment in your home and that's great. You may be able to come up with variety far beyond this bare minimum workout. The point of this one though, is that you will have absolutely NO EXCUSE not to do it - all you need is you and a carpeted floor or floor mat. If you have neither of those, take a couple of bath towels and lay them on the floor to create your own floor mat (make sure you wash them afterward).
Planks: this is a great exercise to start out with that not only works your abs, it also improves posture and strengthens lower back muscles. Simply get into push-up position, but instead of resting on the palms of your hands, rest on your elbows. Your elbows should touch the floor directly below your shoulders. Now, stiffen your mid section and hold your abdomen off the ground but remember to have your butt, back (upper and lower) and legs in a straight line essentially forming a plank with your body.
Your lower body weight should be resting on your toes or balls of your feet and upper body weight should be resting on the elbows. Now, just hold it. How long? As long as you can. When you start to tire, your muscles will begin to tremor and you'll feel like you can't hold it anymore. As you get better at this and your core muscles get stronger, you will be able to hold it for longer and longer periods. Thirty seconds is a good goal to start with for beginners and extend the time as tolerated. 3 sets of 30 second planks with 30-45 seconds of rest in between is a nice start. If you have no watch with a second hand, most cell phones have countdown timers built-in to them, which is what I use.
V-ups- are great for working both upper and lower abdominal muscles. Many abs exercises either work upper abs or lower abs but V- ups work both. Lay flat on your back and place your arms above your head so that your arms and body form one long straight line (i.e. your arms should not be perpendicular to your chest). Bend your knees very slightly. In one fluid but slow motion, bring your feet up over your belly button and lift your butt slightly off the ground. Keep your knees only slightly bent, while simultaneously, bringing your arms up so your fingers can touch your toes approximately 2-3 feet over the navel. Your arms should stay almost completely extended throughout the motion with no or minimal bend at the elbow. After your fingers touch your toes, release and bring your legs down so that your heels are roughly one to two inches off the ground and simultaneously bring your arms back down so your hands are also now around one to two inches off the ground. That is one repetition. Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions at first and increase the repetitions per set as you get better and stronger.
Good Luck! More tips next week!
Published On: June 05, 2008