So your local pool is shut, and your local sports shop is all out of home training equipment. Sound familiar? In recent weeks steepers, spin bikes, dumbbells, resistance bands and any other home gym equipments have been flying off the shelves at an alarming rate. But, you don’t always need all the latest gear and gadgets to get a good workout, infact, sometimes you don’t need anything at all!
So, before you resort to practicing your technique in the bath; take a look at our guide to 5 body weight only exercises brought to you by one of our very own, Megan, who is a qualified personal trainer and also a qualified swim instructor. These exercises are sure to help keep your fitness coming on swimmingly this year! So over to you Megan…
It has often been said that there is no elevator to success, but you might not have realised until now just how much taking the stairs can actually do for you.
As stair climbing forces your body to resist gravity and move in a vertical pattern; this is a very demanding form of exercise for the lower body. Stair climbing is particularly beneficial for toning the muscles in the calves, thighs and glutes. The climbing element of taking the stairs, also means that your body has to stabilise and balance; further increasing the workload of the lower body, and also working the muscles of the lower back, core, and abdomen.
Stair climbing is an excellent fat burning workout. 1 flight (10 steps), completed both ways, burns around 5 calories. Studies have even suggested that you can burn upto 1000 calories a hour from stair climbing.
Due to the high demands of stair climbing at a high intensity (a fast walk or jog), it can be a great way to cross train for running or cycling. The stairs are a great way to improve power, strength and endurance in the quads and glutes, both of which are major muscle groups for runners and cyclists alike. Due to the high aerobic demands, and benefits of stair climbing on the heart and lungs, it is also a great way to improve your VO2 Max, meaning that it can help you to train and race harder for longer.
Taking to the stairs doesn’t all have to be about hardcore, intense training though. Due to stairs being readily accessible in most homes or apartment buildings, they can easily be incorporated into your day, throughout the day, to simply get you more active.
As with most forms of exercise, it is best to start off small. When stair climbing, your body is subjected to less impact (particularly in the ankles and feet) than it is when running. However, it is important when undertaking any new form of exercise to listen to your body. Pay particular attention, when starting out with stair climbs, to any new feelings of discomfort in the lower body (especially in the hips, knees or ankles).
10 steps is considered 1 flight, so an easy way to start out is to break down your ‘climb’ into flights. For example you could start with 3 lots of 10 flights. Alternatively you could increase intensity with ‘stair intervals’ for example 2 mins of intense stair climbing followed by a 1 minute rest for 3 rounds.
To increase your daily stair climbing as a way of making your day more active is surprisingly easy. Even if you’re working from home, you can avoid the downstairs toilet by making extra trips on the stairs. It is also highly recommended to move around regularly throughout the day, to improve wellbeing and maintain good physical and mental health. So, you could easily incorporate a few stair climbs into your short movement breaks throughout the day.
So stairs are great for your lower body, but there are a number of exercises you can perform using stairs, or a single step, to give you a fantastic all over body workout.
An incline press- up is a great way to build upper body and core strength as you work you way up to a full press up. A decline press up is an advanced form of press up that increases the amount of body weight you are lifting in your press up.
Tricep dips are one of the most effective exercises for activating the triceps muscles in the upper arm. This exercise also requires activation of the core, as you hold your hips off the ground. Sit on the edge of a step, holding the edge next to your hips. Extend your legs out in front. Your feet should be about hip-width apart with heels touching the ground. Press into your palms and lift your body; moving forward slightly, so that your body can clear the edge of the step. Lower yourself down to perform the dip (elbows bent between 45 and 90 degrees).Push yourself back up to the start position, and repeat. To regress this move; perform your dips with bent knees, and extend the legs as strength improves.
Elevated lunges are a great way to focus on strengthening your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. They are an excellent way to focus on building power in the glutes and quads, while stretching out muscles that cyclist and runners tend to neglect (tight hip flexors and hamstrings anyone?).
Rear Foot Elevated Lunge – Begin with your rear foot raised foot on a step; keeping your toes pointed, your foot flexed, and your weight grounded though the ball of your front foot. Once balanced, lower your body with control until your right knee just about touches the floor and drive back up through your left leg to the starting position.
Front Foot Elevated Lunge – This is a great move for working on knee stability. Position your front foot, in front of you, on a step. The front foot should be flat on the step, while you should remain on the ball of your rear foot; this foot will bear your weight. Engage the abs and lower back, then drive forward so that the knee passes over the toes. The rear knee will lower, until it is just above the floor. Then, drive back up, through the front knee, to return to your starting position.
Calf raises are not only great for building strength and muscle in the calves, they are also superb for working on the stability and mobility of the ankles, which in turn, also helps with injury prevention. Performing calf raises is incredibly simple. Stand up straight on the edge of a step, then push through the balls of your feet and raise your heel until you are standing on your toes. Then lower slowly until your heels are below the top of the step.
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