16 Dec 7 bodyweight exercises you can do at home this festive season
Bodyweight exercises are a great way to stay in shape over Christmas. They’re effective, don’t require equipment and you can do them anywhere, making them a perfect solution for the chaos of the festive season!
The festive season is a time for family, fun and for most Australians, food! It’s also a time where travel and numerous social events can get in the way of your fitness routine. If you’re struggling to get to the gym, or just want to work off your Christmas pudding, we’ve got your back. Here are a few simple bodyweight exercises you can do at home to keep fit this this festive season.
The squat is a staple of any bodyweight program for your legs! Anyone can squat, and you can make them harder or easier depending on your level of fitness. Here’s how to do the perfect squat:
Start with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your arms crossed over your chest. Your weight should be evenly distributed in your feet. Next, slowly move your hips back and down until there’s roughly a 90-degree angle at your knees. You can make squats easier by not going down as far.
Make it harder – Want to add some intensity? Try adding a jump at the top of your squat to make it a plyometric exercise that really lifts your heart rate.
2. Dynamic Lunges
The lunge provides a great opportunity to challenge your strength and balance once you have mastered the squat. Start standing with your feet hip distance apart. Next, take a big step forward and bend your knees until both front and back knee are at a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the lunge. Make sure you stay balanced and controlled by keeping everything moving in a straight line. Next push off your front foot and bring your front leg back to a standing position. Repeat the process by stepping forward with the opposite foot.
Make it harder – Rather than stepping forward when changing legs, you can jump to alternate legs. These are called “plyometric lunges” and are really tough, so if you’re new to lunges, stick with either static or dynamic lunges.
3. Push Ups
The push up is one of the best bodyweight exercises and is a tried and true method of developing your chest and arms. Start with your hands a little wider than your shoulders and your feet hip width apart. Lower yourself under control until your elbows reach 90-degrees and then press away from the ground. Make sure to keep your core tight to keep your lower back from arching.
Make it easier – Feel free to perform push ups from your knees if necessary.
4. Triceps Dips
Keep those arms in shape with triceps dips. The triceps are the muscles in the back of your arm between your elbow and your shoulder. To do a triceps dip, sit on a chair with your hands either side of your bottom. Move your bottom off the seat and slowly lower your body down until there is a 90-degree angle at your elbow. Remember to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders away you’re your ears.
Make it harder – Moving your feet further away from your hands will increase the difficulty of this exercise.
There are so many bodyweight options to train your chest and arms, but often your back muscles get left out. A fantastic way to make sure your shoulders stay healthy is by making sure your back is nice and strong. Supermans are an awesome way to work your back without weights.
Start by lying face down with your arms out in front of you. Next, activate your glutes and back muscles to slowly lift your arms and legs a few centimetres off the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and focus on your mind muscle connection. Hold this for a couple of second and then release your arms and legs back to the floor.
Make it easier – If this is too tough or you feel pain in your lower back, try lifting just one arm and the opposite leg, then alternating to the other side.
6. Glute bridge
There is no better way to undo all the sitting around over Christmas than the humble glute bridge. Start on your back with your feet close to your butt and about hip distance apart. Push your heels into the ground and raise your hips ensuring that the weight is evenly distributed between each leg. The key with the glute bridge is to ensure your hips remain in the correct position by bracing your core throughout the movement. Slowly lower your hips back down to the ground and repeat.
Make it harder – Want to make it more challenging? Try doing a glute bridge with one leg. Lift one foot off the ground and keep your leg straight up in the air (foot pointing toward the ceiling). Then squeeze your glutes and lift your hips. Remember to try and keep your hips level as you lift them.
A strong core is crucial for maintaining good posture and reducing your risk of injury. Planks are an excellent way to build up your core strength and you can make them easier or harder depending on your fitness. Start on your belly with your elbows underneath your shoulders and your feet hip width apart. Draw your belly button in towards your spine and lift your hips so your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels. You shouldn’t feel any tension through your lower back.
Make it easier – If you struggle to hold a plank on your toes, drop your knees to the ground to lower the intensity.
Want more advice?
Remember, the festive season doesn’t have to be about having the perfect exercise program but rather finding the time to complete improvised exercise sessions with friends or family. Once the festive season is over you can get back to your exercise routine feeling refreshed and recharged.
If you want some more advice about home exercise programs, chat to your local Accredited Exercise Scientist. They can help you to make sure you’re using the right technique and will prescribe exercises that are individualised to your specific needs and fitness level.
Written by Mitch Finn. Mitch is an Accredited Exercise Scientist, Member Development Officer at Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) and also manages a PCYC gym.