Wow! It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a post. But today, I got inspired to write one based on something someone said to me. Now this is a fairly long post, but only because it has quite a lot of information in it.
So, I was talking to a new client and he said to me that between his job and other responsibilities, he doesn’t get much free time to dedicate an hour for a workout session. To which my response was simple. Do you get at least 15 minutes a day? To which he said, Yes.
And there it was. The solution to his problem. But he still seemed a little dubious about a session that’s no more than at least 30-60 minutes. Understandable. See, most when thinking about exercising, they have this notion that it takes an hour to get a proper workout. Now, while there’s some truth to that, it’s not entirely accurate.
I’ll add this one important thing. Most of the results you’ll get will come from your eating, sleeping and other lifestyle habits. For example, smoking, drinking, excessive fast foods, etc. are not gonna help you get anywhere, as far as muscle gain, fat loss, etc are concerned. No amount of exercise will get you anywhere close to being physically or mentally fit, if what your eating habits aren’t healthy and organized. It’s a fact.
Back to my point. Let’s say you do manage to do the above things and are able to succeed in making changes to the hardest part of the process. I.E. Your Lifestyle.
So, moving on to the workouts. These quick workouts take no more than 15-30 minutes. They will work your whole body, and provided you follow through with your program and are willing to stick with it, you’ll see some astounding changes in your body.
The following workouts can be done without the use of equipment. For those who don’t want to spend on weights, kettle bells, etc. But for those who are willing to invest in that, I’ll post workouts with equipment as well.
1 – Push-ups – This is the most basic yet most effective exercise you can do. Push-ups have different variations, but Military push-ups are the most common. They work your Pectorals, Triceps and Shoulders as your main muscles and Upper/Lower Back, Abdomen as secondary (if you do them elevated or decline/incline position). If you’re a complete beginner, you can work your way to them starting with knee push-ups.
2- High knee sprints – This exercise is good for improving your cadiovascular performance and your endurance. It doesn’t require much space either, since you’ll be doing it in place.
Reference video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nu9mJtBGnw
3- Mountain Climbers – This exercise is a combination of cardio and calisthenic type. It works your Core muscles, Quadriceps, Hip Flexors, Glutes, Hamstrings as your main muscles and Triceps, Shoulders and Pectorals as secondary muscles.
Reference video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBZHkGT0W5Y
4- Crunches – This is an exercise that is often mistaken with sit-ups. It is in fact a different exercise that activates different muscles than sit-ups. Crunches mainly activate the core and upper abdomen as the main muscles, as you come up 3/4 of the way, then slowly go back to start position without letting gravity pull you back down. This is great for isolating and developing your abdomen and core muscles (which also include obliques and back). Sit-ups on the other hand activates your arms, back, hips and chest as primary muscles, and activates the abdominal muscles as secondary muscles, while you come up the whole way, keeping your back straight.
Reference video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek2OvKMdvys
5- Plank – This exercise is the best one for developing and strengthening your core muscles. It actually is a full body workout and just doing 1 minute of it everyday will make a huge difference in your progress. Then you can move up to 2 or 3 or 4 minutes.
Tip – To make plank more challenging, try doing it at the end of your workout session.
So those were 5 simple yet effective no-equipment workouts you can do at home.
If you’re a total beginner, make sure to go about this via slow and steady progression. For example, push-ups, you can start at 10 or 12 and then increase one rep each week or every 3-4 days as per your capability and continue doing so until you reach your set goals.
Now for the workouts with equipment.
1- Deadlifts – This exercise is actually the most effective one as it works virtually the whole body. But it mainly focuses on your grip strength, glutes, hamstrings (including the adductor magnus), quadriceps, back, trapezius, core, abdomen, upper arms (biceps), lower arms (forearms) and hips.
Reference video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyJbvWAh6ec
2- Kettle bell Squats – Kettle bell is actually a pretty useful tool when it comes to working out at home. It is small, so it doesn’t take up much space. It comes in different weight varieties from 2-32 KG or 4.4-70.5 LBS. So you can choose one according to your capability and upgrade as necessary. Kettle bell squats are great for your Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes and core muscles (mainly your lower back). Doing these will also help you improve performance in your deadlifts.
Reference video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT6TuJlifto
3- Bicep curls – The classic exercise to develop the bicep brachii muscle. It can be done with a barbell or dumbbells. Mechanics will vary of course. But fundamental principles will remain the same. You can start by doing these with dumbbells at first, then proceed to the barbell bicep curls and try other variations, as you progress.
4- Dumbbell shoulder press – This exercise works mainly on your Deltoids, Supraspinatus (One of the Rotator cuff muscles), Triceps, Biceps, Pectoralis Major (Basically the upper chest), Traps (Trapezius) and Serratus Anterior (they’re basically over the side-ribs and help with scapular movement).
Reference video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEwKCR5JCog (This is the seated version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-aVuyhvLHU (The standing up version)
5- Dumbbell flys – The final one on the list is the dumbbell fly. This exercise works the Pectoralis Major (Pecs), Shoulders (specifically the Deltoid) and Bicep Brachii.
Reference video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwuUZ5wgQOk
So, there you have it! 10 different options for you to try at home. With or without equipment (and the only equipment needed are one kettle bell and/or a pair of dumbbells and a barbell). Working virtually the whole body in the process. Any of the exercise above, if properly planned and organized, can be done in less than 15-20 minutes. Don’t do them all in one session. Alternate them.
Combining a well-organized training program with a well-planned eating program, healthy lifestyle choices and a good night’s sleep, will get you results that you previously thought were ‘impossible’. But remember, it’s easier in writing and reading, than actually doing. Never think of this as a program. Make it a lifestyle. A conscious choice that becomes a sub-conscious need over time.
Some additional tips –
-Start with minimal reps and sets of these exercises, then slowly progress.
-Never rush into any program.
-Start slow, maintain a steady pace and progress smoothly. Then add just a bit more (weight and/or reps, depending on the workout you’re doing and depending on your goals) periodically as needed and as suited for your physical and mental capacity.
-Challenge yourself, but don’t hurt yourself while doing so. Injuries cause you to lose any progress you made.
-It is best to have some sort of supervision or a spotter, especially during weight workouts. Preferably a qualified professional.
-Get the form of your exercise correct. Proper form will activate the targeted muscles. Improper form will lead to injuries and sub-optimal or zero results, especially when you’re training with weights.
-Learn to breathe properly while doing an exercise. I’ve found that many get confused on how to breathe. So a simple thing to remember is when your muscles contract/flex, breathe out, when they expand/relax, breathe in. Another thing to remember is, generally, any movement that goes against gravity will require muscles tightening up/contracting to generate explosive power, best way to do that, is to inhale deeply and exhale firmly. Don’t hold your breath (Although there are certain exercises that do require holding the breath then exhaling after the movement).
-Practice diaphragmatic breathing.
-Along with the workouts, do some additional indirect exercises like taking the stairs, walking to work or walking a little bit farther to catch a bus, etc. Doing supplementary exercises like calf-raises can help as well.
–Always stretch before a workout.
-You can also slowly start waking up early on Sundays and holidays and go for a jog or a walk (initially). Little changes in daily routine, help make a big difference.
-Another thing you can do is to slowly start cutting down sweets and trans fats from your daily diet.
Well, that’s it. Hope you find this article useful and apply some of it in your life. It’s not a complete guide, but I have put enough in it to get you started. Write any comments/questions you have down below. Thanks for reading.