Just because you struggle to get to the gym everyday, cant afford the membership fees or just simply hate being there, that doesn’t mean you can’t get in a good workout with the absolute minimal amount of equipment. I’ve devised a quick program that you can use in your own home using very simple pieces of equipment like an exercise ball, skipping rope, hula hoop, mini trampoline and resistance bands or dumbbells if you have them. I would start off doing one full body workout and two cardio sessions a week to start then you can alter it to suit your progression as you go along.
Do the following in a circuit fashion moving quickly to each exercise for extra cardio benefit. Do each exercise 2-3 times using a rep range of 8-12 for each. Remember to keep your movements slow and controlled and never let your technique get slack. Adding extra weight to most of the exercises can increase the difficulty.
Squats – use the exercise ball & place it behind your back so its sandwiched between you & the wall, place feet shoulder width apart & squat down rolling against the ball until thighs are parallel to the floor & rise up again keeping your head up throughout the movement. Weights can be held if desired.
Lunges – can be alternated with glute raise for variety. Hold an old broom handle across your shoulders, two weights of some sort in your hands or with no weight at all & do alternating lunges making sure your leading knee never overreaches the leading toe, lower until thigh is horizontal then rise up again. Variations include walking lunges, stationary lunges, backward lunges where you step backwards instead of forwards (obviously) or using a low bench to step on/off.
Glute raise – lie on the floor & place both feet on the exercise ball, keep knees bent at 90 degrees & with upper body on the floor. Lift your hips & glutes off the ground so you create a straight line from your chest to knees, squeeze & hold for 2 secs then lower down to the ground & repeat. Keep arms on the floor either alongside the body or perpendicular for balance. Variation includes resting only one foot on the ball & keeping the other leg straight throughout
Hindu squats – stand up straight with arms bent so that fists are at shoulder height, squat down so that the back of your legs touch your heels which have simultaneously risen off the floor so you’re balanced on your toes. Your hands have swung down during this phase so that at the bottom of the movement your arms are straight & slightly behind you for balance, return to starting position & repeat.
Calf raise – use a stair & hold on to something with one hand, balance on one foot with just the ball of your foot on the step, tuck the other behind the working calf. Lower down until you feel a full stretch in the calf then rise up as far as possible. Repeat for each leg. A weight can be held in one hand to increase difficulty.
Press ups – any variation can be used ranging from the easiest being hands on the exercise ball, normal version on the ground or with knees bent or to increase difficulty put legs up on the ball & hands on the ground.
Shoulder press – put the ball against a wall so it doesn’t roll then with your hands on the floor tuck your legs under & rest them on the ball so your shins are resting on it & you are sort of kneeling on it sideways if that makes sense! Then slowly lower down towards the ground then press back up again until arms are straight. This is essentially a shoulder press just upside down.
Tricep press – using either the ball, a small raised object like a block or just the floor, place hands very closely together so they’re touching then perform a normal press up movement. This will target the triceps. Alternatively you can do dips using a chair or similar edge – simply keep your upper body close to the object & lower down as far as is comfortable but no farther than a 90-degree angle then straighten your arms again. Resting your feet on a bench opposite can increase the difficulty.
Arm row – lean one hand on the exercise ball & do a small lunge to get a flat back, hold an object in the other hand like a can of food or anything else convenient. Using a rowing movement raise your elbow up as far back as it will go until it’s higher than your back, squeeze the shoulder blade area then lower back down again. Repeat for other arm. If you have resistance bands you can sit on the floor with legs straight out in front of you, holding both ends of the band, loop it round your feet then pull back simultaneously with both hands feeling the contraction in your upper back.
Bicep curl – find a suitable weight, anything ranging from a broom handle to two cans of food or any similar weight then keep elbows to your side & curl the weight up using your biceps, then lower back to start. A similar exercise can be done using resistance bands anchored under your feet.
Abs – for upper abs do a crunch using the exercise ball, to hit the obliques add a twist on the end & for lower do a reverse curl on the floor bringing your knees closer to your chest by contracting your lower abs only.
Hyperextensions – lie over the exercise ball & place hands behind head. Raise torso until it forms a straight line with the rest of your body then lower down again.
For cardio I’d do at least 2 days a week, one day go for a run in the park building up length & speed as you progress and alternating periods of walking/jogging/sprints in any combination that is comfortable for your fitness level. Remember to always continue challenging yourself by making it a little bit harder each time you go out. Warm down and stretch properly upon completion.
For the second day you could make a fun circuit to do, here are some suggestions:
Bouncing on the trampoline & doing tuck jumps, star jumps, pike position, twist from side to side, bend legs to touch ankles to hamstrings, punching the air and seeing how many ‘reps’ you can fit into each bounce (if no-ones watching) etc
Find a step or bench & do fast step-ups changing the leading foot or jump on & off it.
Skipping – many variations including jumping side to side, twisting the body side to side with each jump, one leg, double jumps, crossing the hands over in front etc
Bounding – jump as far as you can from one leg to the next in an open area
Side jumping – put the skipping rope in a line on the floor & jump sideways over it from side to side, can also be done with one leg.
Hula hoop – you can buy them cheaply, see how long you can keep it up.
Running on the spot – lift legs up high in front or kick ankles back to touch bum.
Side lunges – start in a side lunge with your hands on the floor, lower back straight then stand up, sashay sideways then lunge to the other side. To increase difficulty put a low bench in the middle to step over and/or hold a medicine ball or other weight & bring to the chest in the middle of the movement.
Deck squats – use a soft surface like a mat on some grass, stand at the front of the mat then squat down & sit on the mat & throw your legs back so your toes touch the ground behind your head, as your legs are moving back bring your hands back so they are resting by the side of your head at the same time as your toes touch the ground. Forcefully throw your legs & arms back to get yourself back into a squat position then stand up fully and repeat. An easier version to start with is to use a low bench to sit back on & hold a counter weight in both hands, as you sit down on the bench your feet lift momentarily off the ground then you rock back up to standing again.
Work out a routine that you enjoy for example you could do each exercise for 1 minute then move on immediately to the next, rest for 1-2mins then repeat the circuit until you have preferably done at least 20 minutes. Warm down by walking for a few minutes then doing a few simple stretches.
These are just a few ideas you can use to create your own home workout and once you get started I’m sure new ideas and variations will present themselves so you can design an ever changing, progressive program to keep you challenged and inspired with hardly any cost to you at all.