Time to Get in Shape
As warm weather arrives, most of us start wearing lighter clothes that leave our bodies exposed in all their lumpy, wintery glory. Gym workouts and personal trainers are great for getting back into shape, but they can put a strain on your budget. Fortunately, you don’t need to hit the gym to tone your body. Using a few simple techniques, you can sculpt muscles for free, leaving you chiseled and ready for the beach.
This move targets those pudgy love handles. A side plank may look easy, but it really gets your abdominal muscles working. The idea is to get your body perfectly in line horizontally while using the side of one foot and one forearm for support. Once in position, hold it for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds and repeat. For an extra challenge, try straightening the arm that is not supporting the body. Do 10 reps at least three times a week.
This fitness move combines a push-up with a jump to work the whole body. Start with one push-up, then jump your feet forward to your hands while still facing down. Raise your hands above your head and jump up, then squat down and jump back into push-up position. Burpees can be quite difficult, especially at first, but just 10 of these a day should show results quickly.
This classic exercise is hard but produces good results. Even with access to state-of-the-art equipment, many personal trainers recommend simple push-ups. If you want to tone arms, shoulders, and back, all while engaging the abs, add this is move to the routine. Try three sets of 12 reps, five times a week.
Running is an excellent cardio workout that targets the buttocks and legs. Running outside provides a better view than running in a gym, and some people find that setting their own pace encourages greater speed and distance. If you have creaky knees or ankles, try running on grass or on a track that has some cushioning.
Squats will make you sore, but the pain of toning your thighs and buttocks is worth the gain. To do a proper squat, stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips and bend at the waist as if you are about to sit in a chair. Try to get low enough to form a 90-degree angle while keeping your knees in line with your ankles. Bring your hands up to shoulder level with arms pointing forward. Try three sets of 12 reps at least three times a week. Add hand weights for extra strength training.
Take the stairs whenever you have the choice. It’s often the faster option, anyway, especially if you keep up a good pace. A regular burst of cardio exercise will release endorphins and boost your metabolism all day long, and help keep legs toned and lean.
This popular yoga sequence combines strength training and controlled breathing for a slow but intense workout. There are many variations on this basic set of movements and plenty of good guides online. To get the blood pumping and whole body engaged, incorporate six sun salutations into your daily exercise routine. And remember, yoga is not about achieving the perfect pose. Simply use your breath to stretch as deeply as you can.
A flat stomach and strong abs are at the top of everyone’s fitness list. This popular Pilates move engages the abdominal core for a complete workout that will help flatten your tummy. Start on your back with hands above your head and knees bent slightly with feet on the floor. Use your arms to guide your body and roll up your torso into a seated position, keeping arms at chest height in front and legs bent. Roll back down very slowly — the slower the better for this move. Try three sets of 10 reps each, three times a week.
Household Weight Lifts
Nearly anything small and dense can be used as a weight for exercise, so there’s no need to buy expensive free weights. Use wine bottles or cans of soup to do bicep curls and tricep extensions, keeping wrists straight to avoid strain. When you need heavier weights, try bags of kitty litter, pet food, or jugs of detergent.
This move may remind you of your school days, but jumping jacks are highly effective and used by many personal trainers. They get your heart rate up quickly, which helps burn calories during and after exercise. They also get blood flowing to all parts of the body and help tone the arms and legs. Squeeze your abs while doing jumping jacks for a total body workout. Do three sets of 50 each, five times a week.