Perhaps you are staying at a small hotel or visiting a friend and have no access to exercise equipment. Or maybe you don’t like to use exercise equipment at all. What’s the solution?
By using nothing more than your own body, you can get all the benefits of a well-rounded exercise program—stronger muscles, a boost in energy levels, better balance and improved mood…as well as reduced risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, cancer and osteoporosis.
How it started: The following workout was created for travelers who stay at hotels without gyms, but it also works well for people who don’t have much space in their homes for expensive, bulky exercise equipment. This workout is very simple, requires no equipment and works all your key muscles in less than 30 minutes. For best results, do the workout three times a week.
To add a cardio component to this routine: Do 30-second intervals of jumping jacks between each move.
If you have been sedentary or have not exercised for a long time: Start with fewer repetitions and smaller movements. You also can slow down the moves to half speed. And check first with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
For comfort and safety, wear exercise clothing and sneakers. A proper warm-up is also crucial to help prevent injuries.
The warm-up: Begin by rolling your shoulders back and forth while marching in place for 30 seconds. Then do the following exercises for 30 seconds each—light jumping jacks…hamstring curls (with your weight on your right foot, bend your left knee and kick your left heel up behind you, repeat on the other side and continue hopping side to side)…and shallow squats. Finally, lift and lower your arms for 30 seconds, bringing your fingertips over your head. Now for the workout…
CLOCK SQUATS. Purpose: Works the fronts of your thighs, quadriceps, or “quads”…calves…and gluteus maximus muscles, or “glutes.”
What to do: Stand with your hands on your hips and your feet together. Lunge forward with your right leg until your knee bends at a nearly 90-degree angle in front of you at the 12-o’clock position. Keep your knee over your foot. The back leg should be slightly bent with the knee close to the floor but not touching the floor. The back heel should be off the floor. Next, step back to the starting position and drop to a squat—imagine you are sitting in a chair with your knees bent at 90-degree angles. Stand tall, then lunge your right leg behind you so that your foot is in the six-o’clock position. Return to the starting position and squat. Repeat five times on the right side, then do the same movements on the left side.
Note: If you have knee problems, do calf raises (rise up on the balls of your feet, then lower your heels to the floor) instead of lunges and do a more shallow squat.
TRICEP DIPS. Purpose: Strengthens and tones the backs of your arms, or triceps.
What to do: While sitting on the floor with your knees bent and back against the side of an ottoman or chair, grasp the edge of it so that your fingertips are facing forward and down. While supporting yourself with your arms, carefully lift your upper body off the floor so that your arms are straight. Next, lower yourself slowly about eight inches (bend elbows at a 90-degree angle to avoid stressing the joints), then come back up. Do 20 repetitions.
Note: People with shoulder, elbow or wrist issues should avoid this exercise and do tricep push-ups against a wall—put your hands on the wall in front of your shoulders with your arms straight. Lower your body into the wall, bending your elbows but keeping them close to your rib cage. Straighten your arms to push away from the wall.
THE TALL SQUAT. Purpose: Works your quads, plus the glutes and calves.
What to do: Stand with your legs about hip-width apart. Squat down as if you’re sitting in a chair, then curl your arms as you stand back up. When you reach a standing position, extend your arms straight up into the air and rise up onto the balls of your feet at the same time. Start with 10 squats and work up to 30.
DIP AND RISE. Purpose: Strengthens your glutes and your abdominal and back muscles, or “core.”
What to do: Start with your feet hip-width apart with knees slightly bent and hands on your hips. Bend forward from your hips. Keep your back flat, and touch your knees with your hands. Squeeze your glutes as you bend and then rise. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions.
STANDING CRUNCHES. Purpose: Works the muscles (obliques) on the sides of your abdomen.
What to do: Start by balancing yourself on your left leg. Step your right foot out toward the right about 12 inches away from your left, then place the big toe on the floor. Raise both arms diagonally overhead to the left so that they are straight. Next, drop your arms down toward the center of the body with elbows bent as you lift your right knee toward your arms. Keep your shoulders and hips facing forward. Do 20 repetitions, then switch sides.
SPINAL EXTENSIONS. Purpose: Works your lower and upper back, core, chest, shoulders and triceps.
What to do: Get down on your hands and knees with your back straight. Put a mat under your knees if needed. Lift and extend your right arm in front of you. Hold for four seconds, then lower. Next, lift your left leg straight out behind you parallel to the floor. Hold, then lower. Repeat 10 times. Then do these movements with the opposite arm and leg. Inhale as you reach and extend. Exhale as you return to the resting position.
Once you can master this, try lifting the opposite arm/leg simultaneously.
For a video of cooldown stretches, click here.
Source: Nicole Glor, a New York City–based personal trainer. A group fitness instructor at Crunch NYC and a yoga instructor, she is also the author of The Slimnastics Workout (CreateSpace) and the host of eight fitness DVDs, including the “Fit Travel Workout.” www.NikkiFitness.com