Tips To Sneak in A Workout Without Hitting the Gym
With so much research and hundreds of reports out there supporting the fact that exercise not only helps achieve the physique we want, it also improves cardiovascular health, reduces risk of many diseases and boosts your mood to manage stress. Yet according to the Center for Disease control, 2/3 of adults over the age of 20 in the US are overweight or obese. This alarming statistic makes for a pretty compelling case that many of us need a little help finding ways to fit getting healthier into our busy schedules. I understand that having a demanding job and family life can make fitting in a dedicated daily workout challenging. If finding the time is keeping you from taking steps to being healthier, then maybe cut out the to-and-from travel time to the gym and spend more time working your body in more creative and fun ways! Here are some quick tips to get you moving at home, at work, or in your car:
Straight Arm-Shoulder/deltoid lifts -This is a favorite of mine. It is simple to set up and also a good addition for anyone who spends a lot of time texting or typing. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, however, even though there is a lot of flexibility in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, those muscles still can get tight and shortened. Think of how much time people spend looking down over their computers and their cell phones these days and for moms, looking down at our babies. This continued action of rounding our shoulders reinforces a “hunched” look in the body, lengthening and weakening our upper back/upper trapezius muscles and tightening the chest, pecs, and shoulders. This exercise strengthens and sculpts the front of the arms, shoulders and deltoids, but also helps to counter-act the “rounding effect” in the upper body from habitually gazing down into screens.
For this exercise, I recommend 2 or 3 lbs. hand weights.
1. To set up, bring your feet to hip distance and parallel. If you are using weights, have your weights in your hands, with the head of the weights facing the ceiling.
2. Extend both arms out in front of you to shoulder height, your palms will be facing each other, and your arms will be straight. While doing this exercise, It is very important to have stability in the upper back, so the key is to focus on drawing the shoulders away from the ears and squeezing the shoulder blades towards each other ( think of the drawing down and inward of the shoulders as an opposite action to rounding in the shoulder). Also, important to draw in and activate your core muscles to support the lower back. Keep the strong connection in the upper back as you start to move the arms.
3. Lower your right hand down towards your right thigh, keeping your left arm at shoulder height. Engage your core muscles, as you lift, your right arm back to shoulder height, while at the same time lower the left arm to your left thigh. You will be alternating lifting and lowering your arms while trying to keep the arms straight and shoulders squeezing back and down. Try to cross your arms at the mid -way point between your shoulders and thighs. Repeat 20 times, and work up to three sets.
Side-plank Triceps dip – I absolutely love the triceps dip because it is such a great exercise to get your arms toned and summer ready. The triceps dip also never seems to get easier so you can feel them working as you are doing them.
For a fun and effective twist on a triceps dip, I am sharing my new favorite variation of this exercise: Triceps press in a side plank.
They are also easy to do at home and require no equipment, so there is no excuse not to do them!
To set up, lie down on your left side on the floor or on a mat.
1. Extend your left arm out in front of you flat on the ground. Make sure that your left wrist is in-line with your left shoulder.
2. Bring your right arm out in front of you and across your chest. Place your right palm flat on the floor. Your right fingertips should be facing your left arm
3. Begin to press your weight into your right hand and then press away from the floor until your right arms is almost straight. This movement is going to lift your torso off of the ground, activate your oblique’s for some bonus core work. You should immediately feel your triceps and the back of the right arm engage. Try your best to keep your feet and legs on the ground. Bend your right elbow lowering your body back down to the ground. And then repeat again, by once more pressing your right palm into the floor or mat and lifting your entire body off the ground by using only your right arm.
Try to start with 10 repetitions and then switch sides
Core work: I find so many of my students are conditioned to believe that crunching is the key to flat abs, but that is not necessarily the case. In fact, I have really moved away from traditional core work that rounds the upper body (again reinforcing that hunched shoulder position) and shortens the abdominal muscles. My favorite go-to abs exercise primarily focuses and exhaling to really engage and move (even if it’s a tiny, tiny movement) the abdominal muscles so they can be activated and strengthened.
For this exercise, I recommend using a small playground ball, bolster, or pillow to support the lower back.
1. Sit on the floor, knees are bent, hip distance apart, and parallel. Feet are flat pressing into the ground. Have your ball or support behind your lower back. Imagine lifting up and out of your waist, the crown of the head reaching towards the ceiling, activate all the muscles along your spine so you are sitting up nice and strong.
2. Hold on to your upper things (not underneath the knees because we don’t want to round the shoulders).
3. Without changing your spinal position, and keeping the head in line with spine, start to un-hinge at the waist, leaning back about 3-6 inches towards the floor, or until you feel you core muscles star to quicker, this is your challenge point. Make sure you are staying nice and strong in the back, nice long spine. Stay here in this position, breathing.
4. Start to focus on breathing the belly into the spine, sharp exhales. I share this with my students all the time that when I first started doing this exercise, I could not get my belly button to move at all. I did not yet have the core strength and control to do it (even after years of crunches). After a few weeks of doing this core work, I had that exciting moment where my belly button actually visibly started to move, I almost jumped for joy!
5. Hold in this position for 30-60 seconds, taking breaks and coming right back into position, focusing on the exhale. Once you feel your lower belly able to pull in, you can progress by releasing one or both arms out over your knees. If you lose, that long spinal position, that is your cue to hold back on to your legs.
Here are few moves you can sneak it at the office:
Wall sits – Wall sits are known for strengthening the quads, but when done properly, this move also engages the hamstrings, lower back, and core. I am also going to offer the option to add in some bonus upper back and shoulder work.
1.Stand with your shoulders lightly resting against a wall, your feet you should be about a foot and half away from you, arms by your sides.
2. Start to bend your knees, slide yourself down the wall until your knees are about at 90 degree angles. Your thighs remain parallel and your knees are directly over your toes, so you may need to walk your feet forward or back to get this proper alignment.
3. Hold yourself in this isometric hold for 30-60 seconds. Activating your core, firing up the quads and hamstrings.
4. Option to lift your arms up into a goal post position by your head, keeping arms pressed against the wall, start by having your elbows shoulder height. You elbows are bent and your wrists are directly over your elbows. Start to feel your shoulder blades pressing into the wall. You can adjust the height of your arms to get a nice stretch to the upper back and shoulders.
Chair squats – Great for the booty and easy to do at your desk.
1. Start standing in front of your chair with your feet slightly wider than hip distance and feet parallel, arms straight out in front of you.
2. Sit your hips down and back until your booty taps the chair, making sure you keep a slight arch in the lower lumbar spine.
3. Press through your heels and come back to standing. Repeat 20 times, take a break and work up to three sets of 20.
Calf Lifts – You can fit calf lifts in at the office, while washing dishes, folding laundry, pretty much anywhere. Find a support, this can be a desk, stable chair or table, wall.
1.Bring your heels together and toes apart, your feet will be in a small V, while resting your hands on your support. Stack shoulders over your hips and hips aligned over your heels. Squeeze your heels together, and grip your glutes will give you some bonus booty work.
2. Lift your heels off the floor, rising up on to the balls or your feet. Try not to rock forward, using your momentum to lift, you want all the weight staying in your calves. Repeat lifting and lowering your heels off the ground 20 times, working up to 3 sets of 20.
3. To progress this move, you can bring one or both arms over your head challenging your core and balance.
In Traffic: As a Barre instructor, I often joke with my students that I “barre in my car” but I really do.. I started doing this after my second baby to wake up and strengthen my core muscles and improve my posture. It is important not to let yourself get distracted driving, so you can do this when you are in stand still traffic or parked:
1.To do this, hold the steering wheel at 10 and 2.
2. Sit with your back as straight as possible, ears stacked over the shoulders also allowing you to relax the back of the neck. Glide shoulder blades down the back and squeeze shoulder blades slightly inward.
3. Start to breath your belly button in towards your spine, towards the lower back, toning the core muscles. Focus on taking deep calming but forceful belly breaths.
You can do what I do to have fun with this and blast your favorite song, exhaling sharply to the beat!
*Always consult a physician before starting any new workout routine