(A guest blog by Chris Taylor)
Let me start by asking you a question: when was the last time you went for a walk on your lunchbreak? Or did some sit-ups before heading off to work? If you’re already looking at this blog with unveiled derision, then I don’t blame you. We all know that it’s pretty difficult to incorporate an effective fitness regime into a busy lifestyle.
But sometimes the most significant improvements to your health can come from the smallest changes. You don’t need to spend hours sweating in the gym 5 days a week. And you don’t need to grudgingly adopt the latest gruelling diet. Here are a few simple fitness changes that could have a dramatic impact on your overall health. All you’ll need is an extra fifteen minutes.
- Jump squats
Not content with your regular squat? Then look no further than this challenging alternative. It’s pretty simple. Find yourself plenty of space and get ready to do a normal squat. Then, after your squat down, jump back up into the air. It’s that simple.You have the option of either keeping your hands above your head or parallel in front of you.
- Plank it out
No, we aren’t recommending that you plank over two tables and upload the video to Youtube. Planking is actually a really good workout – perfect for those who need to strengthen their core muscles, but can’t commit to joining the gym to do so. This exercise involves holding yourself up off the ground using your tip toes and forearms. It might look easy, but planks will do wonders for your stomach, back and shoulder muscles. And what’s even better? You can plank practically anywhere, so get creative and have fun.
- Lunge forward
Lunging is a great way to work your glutes and hamstrings – and it doesn’t require much effort either. It involves standing with one leg stretched it in front of the other, then bending your knee to a 90 degree angle. Then alternate as you see fit. Pro tip: To really feel the benefit of your workout, take your time and do lunges slowly – this will ensure you really work your muscles.
- Shoulder circles!
This might look odd, but shoulder circles will exercise your often-neglected deltoid muscle – located in the contour of your shoulder. Stretch your arms out and place them at a 90 degrees angle. Then move your arms in a circle, no bigger than a basketball. This exercise will help to warm up your muscles and provide your deltoids with some much-needed TLC.
- Spiderman push-ups
Think this sounds exciting? Well you aren’t wrong. Begin by assuming the standard pushup position. Then, as you push downwards, bring your left foot off from the ground and place your knee against the elbow. Once complete, return to the regular position and repeat the process using your other leg. This exercise will really work your abdominal and shoulder muscles – more so than the regular push up.
. Leg lift
Like squatting, the leg lift often inspires love or hate amongst the fitness conscious. It’s a very straightforward exercise, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel the benefits immediately afterwards. To begin, lie on your back and get comfortable. Make sure your back is fully touching the floor to ensure maximum support. Then, using your abdominal muscles, begin to lift your feet off the floor – starting with a few inches. Keep your arms in place throughout the leg lift, it will help to steady your body and keep you flat. You’ll quickly realise that this exercise becomes harder the closer your feet are to the ground. In order to prevent spine strain, focus on your back and abdominal muscles. If you feel excessive strain, then stop and take a break. Otherwise, continue this exercise for 30 seconds at a time. And remember to breath!
- Chair dips
Chair dips are a great exercise when you feel like burning some calories, but aren’t particularly excited about facing the gym. Grab your sturdiest chair and sit on the edge. Place your feet together and keep your hands close to either side of your thighs. Stretch forward, and using your arms for leverage, gently lower your body to the ground. This exercise is fantastic for arms and back muscles – and it’s extremely straightforward too.
- Do your stretches!
Once you’ve finished your exercises, whether it’s planking or lunging, it’s very important to cool down and stretch. In fact, some fitness experts would argue that stretching is just as vital as the actual workout. Stretching helps improve overall flexibility and posture, helping to keep your body in good shape in conjunction with your regular fitness plan. But it also helps to minimise the risk of injury and reduce the build-up of lactic acids – a common reason for cramping and that post-gym stiffness. To get the most from your stretching, it’s recommended that you target the muscles that have undergone the biggest workout during your exercises. There’s no touching your toes and bending over if you’ve been doing shoulder circles, for example. Instead, only work the ‘warm’ parts of your body.
Simple Fitness Plans
Rather than spending hours in the gym every night, some of the best exercise can come from small, consistent efforts. All of the exercises included in this blog will help to strengthen and support your core muscles – without all the fuss. So, take fifteen minutes out of your day and try some. The results might just surprise you.
This blog was written by Chris Taylor on behalf of <a href=“http://www.focus-training.com/”>Focus Training</a>, a provider of personal training qualifications.