Stay At Home Workouts: No Equipment Required
With gyms and other recreational facilities closed and supply line disruptions causing fitness equipment to become more expensive and harder to keep in stock, a lot of people are probably starting to feel at a loss as to how to stay active while observing social distancing. So, as a service to our readers, I've put together this short list of basic exercises that you can do at home without any fitness equipment. The exercises outlined below can be put together into a basic home routine by performing three sets of 10 repetitions of some or all of the exercises, as your level of fitness allows. Be sure to do these exercises to your comfort level using the regular, beginner, and advanced versions provided.
Start with your feet a few inches wider than shoulder-width apart, keep your back straight, your chest up, and hold your hands in front of you as if you were holding a basketball. Slowly lower yourself in a controlled fashion until your knees are bent 90 degrees. Breathe out as you push up through your heels. If lowering yourself to 90 degrees hurts or is uncomfortable, reduce the depth of the squat until you can perform the move safely and comfortably.
Beginner Variation: If you’re not ready to do a full squat, you can perform the same basic movement but shorten the depth by bending your knees less or by performing a box squat. Find a chair or other item of suitable height that can support your weight and position it behind you. Using the same form you would use for the basic squat, lower yourself to the chair while keeping your weight on your feet and maintaining your upright posture, then press up through your heels.
Advanced Variation: If doing a bodyweight squat doesn’t challenge you, you can add resistance by performing a goblet squat. To do a goblet squat, hold some form of weight, such as a gallon of water or backpack containing a few books, up to your chest and perform the basic squat as described above.
Start with your feet together and your hands shoulder-width apart or a little wider, as is comfortable. With your back straight, lower yourself until your elbows are bent 90 degrees, then exhale as you return to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows at the top of the push-up.
Beginner Variation: Rather than starting from your hands and feet, perform the movement from your knees to reduce the amount of resistance. You can reduce the resistance even further by standing upright and pushing against a wall or a counter. The more upright you are, the less resistance you’ll experience during the exercise.
Advanced Variation: You can make push-ups more challenging by elevating your feet 6-18 inches off the ground with a sturdy piece of furniture. This is known as a decline push-up.
Start with your feet together on the floor and place your hand on the edge of a low, sturdy piece of furniture, such as the edge of your fireplace or a chair, and point your knuckles toward your feet. Lower yourself until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees if you can. Exhale as you return to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows at the top of the dip.
Beginner Variation: Rather than placing your hands on a piece of furniture, place your hands on the ground and start with your core lifted off the ground. Point your fingers toward your feet as before and bend at the elbows to lower your hips. Don’t worry about getting a full 90-degree bend in this variation, just lower yourself to your comfort level.
Advanced Variation: You can make a tricep dip more challenging by placing your feet on another piece of furniture rather than on the floor. You can increase your resistance further by placing a weight in your lap.
Towel Bicep Curls
For this exercise, you’ll need a towel and a bag with a loop. Fill the bag with several books or similarly heavy items until it is heavy enough to provide a challenging level of resistance. Loop your towel through the bag’s handle and grasp an end in each hand. Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, your chest up, and your elbows at your sides, curl your hands up as you exhale. Lower the bag in a controlled manner.
Start by lying face down with your arms stretched out ahead of you. Lift your hands and feet three to six inches off the ground and hold this for five to ten seconds.
Beginner and Advanced Variations: The five-to-ten-second time mentioned above is a starting point. Use any amount of time that provides the right level of challenge for you.
For this exercise, you won’t perform any reps, but rather you will hold yourself in the plank position for a set amount of time. Consider that length of time, whatever it is for you, one set.
Start on the floor with your palms face down in front of you and your elbows under your shoulders. Your legs should be extended and your feet close together. Keep your back straight and flex your core to keep it engaged. Do your best to keep a straight line between your feet and your head through the duration of the exercise. Hold this position for a few seconds to one minute.
Beginner Variation: Rather than performing the plank from your elbows and feet, you can reduce the resistance by holding the position from your knees. Just as before, keep your back straight, your core engaged, and hold this position for a length of time that is challenging but not painful. If you find yourself arching your back or bowing in the middle, shorten the time.
Advanced Variation: If you want an even greater challenge, you can try the plank and shoulder tap. Begin on your hands and feet, as if you were going to do a push-up, and allow your feet to be about shoulder-width apart for this variation. In a slow and controlled motion, lift your left hand off the floor and tap your right shoulder, before replacing it and repeating this movement with your right hand tapping your left shoulder.
I hope this gives you some ideas to keep active at home on a budget. If you have any questions or other equipment-free exercises, please let me know in the comments!