Practising these simple exercises daily from the comfort of your home, you’ll be looking your best in no time.
1. Superman Extensions
Aptly named after Clarke Kent’s alter-ego, superman extensions are able to work out a wide array of muscle groups in double-quick time. Simply grab a mat/towel and get yourself on all fours. Then extend each arm and leg (alternative arms and leg – right arm/left leg etc.) to their full capacity, and bring back to the starting position. Repeat on each arm and leg for 30 seconds, before alternating sides. These will help to loosen and work out your core and lower back, whilst at the same time increasing hip and shoulder mobility.
Whilst push-ups are effectively used by the military as a form of punishment, they’re really not as bad as their reputation would have you believe, and will go a long way towards toning your chest and triceps. The great thing about push-ups is: you don’t need to do hundreds of them to see results. Simply allocate sixty seconds to this exercise, making sure to fit in as many as you can during this time.
3. Mountain Climbers
After the relative calm of push-ups, it’s time to move on to mountain climbers, which will serve to further work out your pectoral muscles, whilst at the same time extending your core and hip mobility. From the push-up position, extend your right leg forward to the side of your body, aiming for a position as close to the side of your head as possible. Repeat with the left leg and continue alternating as such for sixty seconds.
4. Rear Lunges
If you’re worried about the state of your backside, don’t fear – we’re getting to that. Rear lunges work out your hamstrings, quads and glutes, and will help you to tone and craft the perfect summer bum. They’re a variation on the traditional lunge - stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then steps backwards. The knee should be at 90 degrees and directly above the toes, not further (taking a shorter step can put added pressure on the knee). Continue the motion until the back knee is nearly touching the ground, and return to your starting position by driving upward with the back leg. Alternate between legs for 60 seconds.
5. Straight Leg Crunches
Chances are you’ll be looking for something less taxing after the rear lunges, so sixty seconds’ worth of straight leg crunches await you next. Lie down on your mat/towel, and extend your legs (heels on the ground and toes facing up), placing one foot directly on top of the other. Place your hands on either side of your head, and with slow controlled movement, lift your head until you feel the stretch in your abdominals. Remember these aren’t sit-ups – you don’t need to extend yourself all the way through the motion- your head merely follows your shoulders lifting up from the mat. These are designed to really work those abs – do as many as you can in the sixty seconds allocated.
6. Body Weight Dips
Now it’s time to work your triceps, and get rid of any excess underarm fat that might be holding you back from the beach this summer. You’ll need to find a sturdy window sill or raised area – you’ll be using this as the base for your exercise. Stand with your back to the window sill, and use your arms to lift your body weight up and down. Lower yourself until your bum is almost touching the floor, making sure that your arms are doing the work – this is the key to toning your triceps. Do this for sixty seconds – it’s going to be tough, but push yourself through it!
7. Body Weight Squats
Warning – these might hurt a bit. But for all the good work they’ll do for your quads, hamstrings and glutes, they’ll definitely be worth it. Start from the standing position, keeping your weight on your heels, and bend your knees to lower your torso as close to the floor as possible. As you lower your bum, extend your arms out in front of you to help you to balance, and to exert correct muscle pressure. Sixty seconds of these and you’re set to move on to…
8. Bicycle Sit-Ups
Another ab-focused work-out, this time in the form of sit-ups with a twist. Lie down on your mat or towel with your legs out straight. Put your hands at the side of your head, and push yourself into the sitting up position, ensuring everything but your buttocks are elevated off the ground. At the same time, curl your legs in towards you, bending your legs and using your arms to squeeze them into your body. Keep at it for sixty seconds, making sure you hold the stretch for at least 2 seconds each time.
Planking has become something of a cultural phenomenon of late, but at its heart, it’s an isometric core strength exercise. Planking is simple, but challenging, and involves holding the body in the push-up position for a period of sixty seconds, using your forearms, elbows and toes to carry your weight. Planking will strengthen your abs, back and shoulders, and, if you want to impress your Twitter buddies, you might want to try photographing yourself doing it in an exotic location.
10. Back Stretch to Cobra
Use this relatively un-strenuous exercise to loosen your muscles and cool down after your work-out. On your mat or towel, kneel down and sit with your bottom on the back of your legs. Lower your head and extend your arms in front of you to their fullest extent. You should, at this point, look like you are in a state of prayer. From there, extend your torso fully, resting on your hands and pointing your head toward the ceiling, stretching your body to its maximum. Repeat this process for sixty seconds.
For beginners, repeat the above series of exercises twice. Once you get a little better acquainted with them, try to push the number of repetitions to three. You’re sure to feel the difference in no time.
Summer should be for worrying about where your next cocktail-induced beach day should be spent, not what you look like in your bikini!
Paul Hammacott is the owner and personal trainer at Freedom Fitness SA. For more information visit http://freedomfitness.co.za and follow Freedom Fitness on Twitter.