Firstly thanks for waiting for this! In Part 1 I spoke of overall fitness comprising, in my opinion, 4 main elements: 1. Cardiovascular 2. Strength 3. Core 4. Flexibility.
So how do we fit those into our busy lives? The best answer is you make it a lifestyle choice. There’s 168 hours in a week so find the time… make the time, just as you do for other things in your life. At the end of this post there will be a workout you can try that will take you around 15 minutes. Not much out of the10080 minutes available in the week!
Elements 1-3 can be nailed with 4 simple exercises… if done intensively. Flexibility will be a separate post. There are many other exercises, but I’ve chosen these as they work a lot of muscle groups. More muscle groups being worked = more calories being burned. Here they are:
- The Squat
- Press up
1. The Squat deserves capital letters because in my opinion it’s the The King of exercises. It can be a body weight one for beginners, or a weighted version for intermediate / advanced. Proper squat form is essential to prevent injuries to knees and back. I could write an entire blog on squats, so I will just say this.. if it feels wrong, then it probably is! Ideally get someone qualified to show you how to squat correctly. Want to see a perfect squat? Watch a 2 year old child pick a toy up off the floor!
- How many to do? Enough to feel it, silly!
2. Press up. Firstly I’ll dispel the myth that females cannot do ‘full’ press ups. I once personal trained a lady in her 70s to do full press ups, so no excuses! Start on your knees in a modified position if you need to and build from there.Fact: press ups tone your abdominal muscles as well as chest and shoulders. Another reason to do them.
- How many to do? See 1. above!
3. Lunges. Also known as a split squat. Again, keep it simple with body weight only lunges if you’re a beginner. Because the lunge is a single leg strength exercise it is good for addressing muscle imbalances (most of us have a weaker side). You can step forward or backward into the lunge – which ever you do, keep your knees at 90 degree angle. Lunges improve balance and coordination as well as toning your legs and butt.
- How many to do? Twice the amount of squats, assuming you have 2 legs!
4. Plank. Many variations to blitz your core (abdominal) muscles. Start with a basic static version if you’re new to them. Support yourself on your forearms, or on your hands like a press up position. Your lower body can be supported from either your knees or your toes, the latter is more challenging.
- Maintain plank position for 15-60 seconds, depending on your ability.
Short Circuit Workout
(Equipment needed: a timer, water, floor space, *free weights if using)
Get your timer. You will do each exercise for 50 seconds. After 50 seconds you will rest for 10 seconds before going straight to the next exercise. The 10 second rest includes having a drink of water if you need it!
Squat for 50 seconds, 10 second rest…
Press up for 50 seconds, 10 second rest…
Lunges alternating legs for 50 seconds, 10 second rest…
Plank for 30-60 seconds, depending on your level.
Those exercises only take 4 minutes! Repeat the sequence 3-4 times through depending on your fitness level.
If the circuit is done intensively i.e. fast but with good form, you will be breathing heavily. *Beginners – use no weight. Performing the exercises with weights e.g. barbell, kettlebell will add intensity.
Finally… Read this! If you cannot do 50 seconds of an exercise, e.g. full press ups… then do a modified, easier version. That way you are still getting the benefits of the workout rather than stopping.
Next time it’s the 4 element, flexibility, in relation to stretching and injury!