Health Coach Corner by Maria Hicks
I know a lot of folks that would rather not workout at the gym – maybe it has to do with working out in front of people, or the cost of a gym membership, or not wanting to lift weights or use equipment. Whatever the reason… There is no need to go to the gym to get a great workout! Personally, I don’t have a gym membership, I like to workout at home or a park. I also train others in their homes or in the great outdoors. Here are some of my favorite exercises that you can do at home – without a single piece of equipment. These are called “body weight” exercises, because you are only using your own body to perform them.
One of the best exercises is also one of the most natural (just watch a baby sit). This movement works all of the muscles in the lower body including the quads, glutes and hamstrings. It also provides an extra kick for the core as you need your deep abdominal muscles and back to perform correctly
This is one of the best upper body exercises because it works everything from your chest to your back, your arms and even your abs. Make sure your shoulders line up with your wrists and you tuck your elbows towards your sides (and don’t flare out your elbows wide). Try to get your chest and hips as close to the floor as possible without touching.
The bridge (also called a hip raise or extension) will strengthen your glutes and hamstrings, while also working your abdominals, back and inner thighs. For a fun variation, lift your hips with your feet flat on the floor and slowly extend one leg long into the sky.
Start with feet together and arms resting comfortably by your sides. Step forward with your right foot and lower your body until your front knee is at 90 degrees and your knee is not touching the floor. Then, to complete the exercise, push off of your front right foot while straightening your left leg keep your RIGHT foot off of the floor and balance with your right thigh parallel to your hip.
The plank has become one of the key go to exercises to define your core. If you are struggling to maintain the arms straight position try this exercise on your forearms and be sure to align your elbows and shoulders and keep your hips, heels and shoulders at the same height.
This exercise targets the muscles on the back of your upper arms. If you find that you have wrist discomfort, try turning your hands to the side slightly to the side and or taking breaks to roll out your wrists. In order to target the back of your arms correctly be sure to have your hips as close to your arms or the edge of the chair as possible, otherwise your legs will do the work instead of your arms.
Single Leg Deadlift
This is one of the best hamstring, glute and core exercises, and it works the muscles on the backside of your body that are typically ignored. Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent and without changing the bend in your knee, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s parallel to the floor. Pause, and then return to the start. Do all reps, and then switch legs and repeat.
Bicycles create fire in the core because they require deep abdominal stabilization and rotation. They also have been proven to activate more muscle fibers in the rectus abdominus and obliques then a standard crunch.
Sometimes jumping gets a bad rap but when it comes to increasing bone density it is a great thing. A jumping jack is one of the best plyometric exercises out there and it is a fantastic cardiovascular drill. If you’re looking for a way to improve your quickness, this is the exercise.
Grand Plie’ Squat Heel Drag
Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed outwards. Lower down into a squat until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. As you push back up to a standing position slowly drag your left heel across the ground until it touches your right heel with your toes still turned out, slowly step out with your right foot returning right back to the squat position and then drag right heel to left. Repeat alternating the heel drags with the squat.