Whether you like to admit it or not, we live in a society where much of what we do is governed by a combination of time and/or money. Take time for example, if you’re anything like me then from the moment your alarm starts blasting in the morning, everything from that point onwards seems like a race against the clock.
From the rush hour traffic journey to work, through to the meetings and playing catch up during your dinner hour, back to the rush hour traffic and quick diversion to the gym for a weights session. Is this painting a familiar picture so far?
Now let us consider money. Money ultimately determines the lifestyle we are able to afford and lead. In today’s current climate, where bills seem to be going through the roof whilst your monthly pay cheque remains the same, many individuals are finding themselves having to cut back on certain luxuries and expenses which they didn’t previously have to.
Often when you pile up a combination of time pressures and money constraints on top of family, work and social commitments it all can become a little overwhelming and daunting. Something has to give and often it seems that this sacrifice is the activity you enjoy most – the activity that gives you a sense of well being and belonging. For the physically active amongst you, that activity is normally attending the gym.
Making The Most Of Your Situation
Individuals often associate the fitness with expensive gym membership fees and the hassle of having to get to and from a remote place. The truth is, you can make fitness as expensive or as cheap as you want to. The control really does lie with YOU. If you can’t afford to join the gym or simply don’t have the time, there’s no reason why your health and fitness should suffer.
Here at FashionBeans, we understand the stresses and strains of this modern day world we all live in. Consequently, we’ve put together our top five home-based exercises which target the majority of muscles in your upper and lower limbs – allowing you to workout effectively and efficiently away from a gym setting. What’s more, these exercises don’t require ANY expensive equipment and utilise your own body weight as a form of resistance.
Body weight exercises often don’t get the credit they deserve and can be viewed in a negative light against the use of weighted resistance and machines. The truth is, all exercise variations offer both positives and negatives. Body weight exercise has been proven to enhance movement, relative strength and reactive strength.
They can also be performed virtually anywhere, so whether you’re stuck in a hotel room or at home babysitting the children, you have the ability to bring about positive changes to your physique.
Top 5 Home Based Exercises
With all this in mind, and in no particular order, let us consider our top 5 home based exercises.
1. Press Ups
This upper body exercise not only targets the chest region but also recruits major muscles from your shoulders and triceps. Furthermore, your ability to hold your torso throughout the required movement will bring your core musculature into action, enhancing your stabiliser muscles as a secondary benefit.
To perform, lie face down on the floor with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Raise your torso off of the floor by extending with your arms whilst maintaining your body straight at all times.
To execute the movement, simply lower your body to the floor by bending at the elbows before returning to the start position.
Press Ups Demonstration Video
Here are some possible adjustments you can make to the exercise in order to increase the intensity or target different muscle groups:
- Adjust Hand Position: Move hands wider or narrower to put more emphasis on your shoulders or triceps respectively. In addition, try placing your hands on a raise object (such as your stairs or a low chair) in order to perform the press up at an incline angle.
- Adjust Feet Position: Move feet wider or narrower in order to increase intensity. You can also try placing your feet off the ground (again using the stairs, a chair or your bed) to perform the press up at a decline angle.
2. Pull Ups
Although, strictly speaking, you require something to pull up against, utilise your surroundings such as park apparatus, the overhang on your stairs or a tree.
This upper body exercise is an incredible challenge and will recruit your major back and bicep target muscles. This exercise is also highly versatile and can be altered simply through hand positioning.
For this example we have utilised an overhand wide grip variation. To perform simply stand underneath the surface you are to utilise and grasp this with a wide, overhand grip. To execute simply pull yourself in an upwards direction until your chin is level or slightly above. At this point slowly lower yourself by reversing the movement.
Pull Ups Demonstration Video
- Adjust Hand Position: Wide, narrow or shoulder width are all possibilities here and will recruit more of your back or biceps depending on position.
- Adjust Grip: Try an overhand or underhand grip (if possible on your chosen apparatus).
- Weighted: If you get particularly good at pull ups, you can try to grip a small dumbbell weight between your feet as you complete the movement. If you don’t own any dumbbells then there are probably other household objects that will work just as well – experiment and see what works for you!
Tip: Low Cost Equipment
Although this article is all about making the most of what you already have, a pull up door frame bar would be an extremely wise investment, which requires minimal cost outlay.
These hook onto the door frames in your house, turning any room into somewhere that you can complete pull ups and chin ups:
- Bodymax Doorway Pull Up Bar and Chin Up Bar
- Body Sculpture Total Upper Body Workout Bar
- JML Upper Body Workout Bar
This is primarily considered a lower body exercise but its overall benefits on the entire body can be considered phenomenal. Not only does it target the major muscles in your lower limbs – including your quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals – it also activates your core musculature. Furthermore, it can bring about enhancements in ankle, hip and spinal mobility.
To perform, stand with your arms extended and facing forwards. Initiate the squat movement by bending at the knees allowing your hips to bend backwards. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor. At this point reverse the movement and return to a standing position. Ensure your knees and feet are aligned at all times and your core is activated.
Squats Demonstration Video
- Adjust Feet Position: Adjust your feet position wider or narrower to put emphasis on different leg muscles. A narrow position is extremely good for developing your balance and core.
- One Legged: If squatting becomes to easy for you, try progressing to one-legged squats. An extremely difficult exercise, if you master this then you will develop legs that a rugby player would be proud of!
- Weighted: Holding heavy objects in your hands while performing the squat will increase the intensity of the exercise. Try tins of food, two litre bottles of water and the like.
This exercise offers a second opportunity to target the major muscles of your lower limb, especially the quadriceps region. Also brought into action are the hamstrings and gluteals, to a lesser extent.
As this exercise also requires a proprioceptive element, your core stabilisers will become recruited throughout the dynamic movement.
For this example we have utilised an alternate leg lunge. To perform simply stand with your hands on your hips and room in front of you to move into. Lunge forward with your chosen leg ensuring you initially land with your heel. Continue to lower the body by bending at the knee and hip until the rear leg almost touches the floor. Reverse the movement and alternate legs.
Lunges Demonstration Video
- Length Of Stride: Lengthening or shortening your stride will alter the emphasis you place on each muscle group.
- Weighted: Holding heavy objects in your hands whilst performing lunges will increase the intensity of the exercise. Again, try tins of food, two litre bottles of water and the like.
5. Abdominal Crunches
With two upper body and two lower body exercises it seems only fitting to end on an exercise that targets your torso region, with particular emphasis on your Rectus Abdominis and your obliques, which are recruited as active synergists. This exercise is highly versatile and can be easily altered to add variation.
To perform lie facing upwards on the floor with your knees bent at approximately 45 degrees. Place your hands at the side of your head close to your neck region. To bring about movement flex at the waist and raise your upper torso off of the floor. Maintain your lower back on the floor at all times. At the top of the movement pause before slowly lowering.
Abdominal Crunches Demonstration Video
- Adjust Leg Position: Straight legs, raised legs, legs placed on objects – the adjustments are endless for this exercise. Experiment and see what works for your needs.
- Adjust Hand Position: Again, place hands behind your head, flat by your side, crossed over your torso – each will alter the exercise ever so slightly, making it either harder or easier to complete.
- Weighted: Once you can complete multiple sets of crunches easily, you can increase the intensity by holding house hold objects in your hand. Using our favourite, the tin of beans, hold a can in each hand and keep your arms straight pointing towards the sky. The weight held above your head will not only increase the workload on your core/abdominals but will also give your arms a good workout too.
The purpose of this article was not only to introduce our top five home based exercises, but also to demonstrate that there is life outside of a gym setting.
As with everything, these exercises will offer numerous benefits over gym based activity but they will also have disadvantages. Hopefully this article has demonstrated how to make the most of the situation you face and how to utilise your surrounding environment to the best of your ability.
Time constraints and money restraints should not hold you back from both pursuing and achieving your fitness goals. Simply through completing the above exercises you have achieved a full body workout with minimal effort, other than that put in to the exercises of course.
We hope this article has provided you with some food for thought and got those creative juices flowing. Why not comment below and let us know about your own personal home exercise workouts, and which exercises you consider essential.
Remember, no obstacle is too big for you to overcome if you want it bad enough. Happy training!