Who Fancies a Workout?
I don’t know about you, but my dvd collection is full to bursting with workout dvds. I have Davina, Jordan, Jillian, that Bristolian one off Big Brother… do I do any of them? Do I bollocks.
Since S started doing an extra day at nursery though, I have found myself with marginally more free time – by which I mean I can juggle my crap a bit, and find an hour. Unless the weather is truly grotty, I’d rather take my workout outside than sit in the living room I spend all my bloody time in. So I go to the park over the road, and make a dick of myself on the equipment.
I thought it might be good to show the simple exercises I do, in case anyone else fancies doing a bit of exercise, but doesn’t know how to get going with it. You don’t need any equipment at all for this workout – except maybe a towel to put on the floor if it’s a bit muddy. I got together with Simon Anderson, who is a fantastic local trainer (you can also find him on Facebook) for help with technique on the exercises, and I blagged Chris Meany into taking photos for the purposes of illustrating what I’m on about (you can also find him on Facebook).
First up, the usual gumpf about consulting a doctor before you embark on a new exercise regime, blah blah. Also I’ve not included a warm-up or a cool down because we’re all grown-ups here and I find those things so condescending. Make sure you warm up before you start. If you really don’t know how to, send me a message. Or Simon. Ask Simon. He’s better at this than I am.
Please try to keep your face reasonably straight as you view these photos. I am not a fitness model. I’m just a mum who is a little more wobbly than she would like. Also, ignore the expression on my face. It’s a look that says “yikes, it’s Sunday morning and I feel like poop, I hope he gets a decent shot soon because I’ve already done a few of these and I want to stop!”
Here’s how it works: you do a set of 10 of each exercise. If you’re doing legs, then it’s 10 each leg. Then have a little rest, and do another set. Aim for three sets of each exercise. If you want you can split it so that you do all the leg exercises through in one go, then re-do them a couple more times, then do the same for arms. It’s entirely up to you.
Find a bench, or a smaller step if you’re feeling less adventurous. The bigger the step, the more you’re going to work your legs.
Stand facing the bench, feet hip width apart, toes facing forward, heels down.
Step your right foot up onto the bench. Lift your left leg so that your knee comes up in front of you at a right angle, and hold for a second before stepping back down to the ground. This counts as one rep.
If you’re a beginner/have poor balance/feel a bit lazy today, you can steady yourself on the bench with your left foot, or skip the knee raise. But ideally, you don’t want your left foot touching the bench at all.
Hold your belly in, pulling in through your belly button. This will help with balance.
Try to keep a “neutral” posture – so look forwards, don’t hunch your shoulders, etc. Focusing on something standing still in front of you (eg the slide) will help you to balance.
To make this a little more challenging: put your hands over your head as you step up, and thrust them down as your drive the knee up, as if trying to break something over your knee. You could also hold some weights or wear ankle weights. If you were mad.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Stay with your bench, and turn around to face away from it.
Rest one foot on the bench behind you. You want a slight bend in your back leg, as per the lovely picture.
As with all exercises, hold your core strong, belly button pulled in as if you were expecting someone to punch you in the stomach any minute. Keep your chest lifted and shoulders back.
Bend your front knee, making sure it bends forwards but doesn’t go in front of your toes. Hold for a second, then come back up. That’s one rep.
Always ensure your knee stays in line with your hip and ankle, you don’t want it wobbling out to the side.
If you’re feeling a bit less adventurous today, you can do a normal lunge without putting one foot on the bench.
To progress the exercise, put your hands on your head, rather than on hips or out to side. Or you can add weights.
Side Steps Ups
Ok, we couldn’t figure out what to call this one.
Put your right foot onto a bench or other step. As I’m in a park, I’m using one of the stepping stones meant for kids to play on; they come in differing heights so you can pick one that’s right for you.
You’re going to do a squat, so you want your feet more or less hip width apart, toes facing front or slightly outwards. Bend both legs, keeping back straight, shoulders down, tummy pulled in (you know the drill by now). Make sure your knees don’t bend past your toes!
Push through your left foot to lift up onto the step. Lift your left leg until your knee is at right angles, and hold for a moment before dropping back down. That’s one rep.
This is basically the same sort of movement as the first exercise, but you’re stepping sideways rather than forwards.
To make it easier, you can just remove the step.
To make it harder, put your hands on your head, or add weights to either hands or ankles.
Yep, you need the bench again.
This is basically the same as a normal push-up, which I’m sure everyone already knows how to do. There is no great mystery surrounding them, but here are a few pointers:
Hold your belly in. Having your body in this position means you are working your core as well. Keep your back straight also, and if you feel pain in your lower back then you need to stop and re-assess what you’re doing. The pain should be in your chest muscles.
Hands should be below elbows, in line with the chest. Try not to hunch your shoulders.
I have a personal issue with push-ups, in that I just can’t bloody do them. Doing them on the bench makes them easier as there’s less gravity involved.
To make it easier, stand on the other side of the bench, and have your hands on the back so that you’re higher up.
To make it harder, do a normal push-up on the floor.
This exercise works the backs of your arms – the bingo wings.
What I normally do is start off sitting on the bench with hands either side of my bum, then slide my bum off the front of the seat.
Lower your bum by bending your arms, then come back up. That’s one rep.
Don’t hunch your shoulders, or you end up working the wrong muscles. And don’t go so far down that you shoulders end up below your elbows, or you’ll be in for a world of pain. Keep your hands as close together a possible on the bench. If you let them go too wide, you end up working your shoulders and not your triceps.
To make this one easier, keep your feet closer to the bench. That will mean your legs are taking more of your weight.
To make it harder, move your legs further away from the bench so that your arms are taking more weight.
This one works your upper back. I us an underhand grip because I find it more comfortable. If you use an overhand grip, you’ll work your shoulder more than bicep, but either way you’re working both with this one.
Start off leaning back, holding onto a bar or net. To be honest, it’s easier to find a bar in a play park but the day we took these photos, the bars were in use so we improvised.
Keeping your body straight and shoulders down (core tight, remember!) pull yourself up to the bar/net. You’re aiming to have your chest come up to meet the bar. Then go back down in a controlled movement. That’s one rep.
To make this one easier, move your feet closer so that your body is more vertical.
To make it more difficult, move your feet out so that you’re more horizontal.
That’s it. You can finish off with a plank or some other ab exercises if you like. The first time you do it, it might take you a little time as you get used to what you’re doing – but after a while the whole thing will take you about half an hour or so. I find it a great full body workout that I can make harder or easier depending on how fit I’m feeling.
And the great news is that as of next week, I will be working out with Simon twice a week, and we’ll be putting together a post for an awesome new-year workout. He’s also going to try and sort my diet out for me so that I’m not living on prawn crackers and Coca Cola. Good luck with that one, Simon!
Simon has loads of free content on his website and a blog full of tips as well, so do check it out. Also, since we’re working together, here’s a link to get a free download of his “7 Day Belly Blaster” nutrition plan.