As the mercury rises to temps unseen since last summer, many who missed the chance to employ healthy New Year’s resolutions scramble to get in shape by beach season.
Late bloomers may feel intimidated working out at a gym with hardcore fitness fanatics, but there are many exercises you can do at home that target problem areas (stomach, thighs, arms) without the use of large equipment.
For under $15, you can purchase a jump rope and a set of dumbbells that can be used for numerous exercises right in your home.
Here are five exercises you can do at home using minimal equipment.
Sit-ups or stomach crunches
From my personal experience, your abdominal muscles are the easiest muscle group to exercise to trim away fat, tone and sculpt. While it takes as many as 1000 sit-ups to burn approximately 300 calories, sit-ups help you build essential strength in your core.
Sit-ups can be done in the privacy of your own home without any assistance. You can place your toes under the handle of your dumbbells for stability or simply use the edge of a couch. I recommend starting with sets of ten until you build enough strength and endurance to add more reps onto your set.
After a couple consistent weeks of doing sit-ups, you will feel and see results. The abdominal muscles have an incredible recovery rate, meaning you can do more sit-ups in one day than numerous reps of any other exercise.
Abdominal muscles are a great compliment for any other muscle group you exercise. But don’t take my word for it, start incorporating sit-ups in your workout and see the results for yourself!
Lunges are designed to strengthen the hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteal muscles. Lunges are the perfect exercise for people who believe their thighs are problem areas they want to sculpt.
Holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms rested by your sides is the correct starting position for lunges. Take one long step forward while the ball of your opposite foot remains in the starting position. Hold the position before stepping back into place to complete the exercise movement.
Lunges will not only trim unwanted fat from your thighs, they will also strengthen your hamstrings for jogging and running, which can burn even more calories!
Jumping rope is a great exercise to get your blood circulating. There are many benefits to this exercise, including:
- Toning muscles
- Gaining athletic coordination
- Increasing cardiovascular fitness
- Burning calories
- Losing weight
Jumping rope should be done immediately following stretching, completing your warm up before doing more strenuous exercises.
Push-ups can be extremely effective if the proper form is employed.
Whereas push-ups indirectly exercise many muscles in the upper body, they directly strengthen the following areas:
- Upper Arms
If push-ups become dull and repetitive after constant reps, you can make a game out of your workout with a deck of cards. The rules are as follows:
- Pick ten cards from a deck of cards
- Flip one card over; the number shown dictates the number of reps of push-ups for that set
- All face cards are worth ten push-ups
- Repeat process until all ten cards are flipped
Yoga can be a great way to stretch before you work out, increase your range of motion, clear your mind and find inner peace. While all of the positions may not be able to be achieved during your initial yoga workouts, you can easily track your progress as your range of motion improves after each stretch.
Following the positions of a yoga instructor on television or DVD is a great option for those who can’t make it to a yoga class in person. However, if the instructor’s pace is too advanced, I recommend printing out the yoga poses listed on Yoga Journal to practice at your own speed.
Through yoga, participants are taught that your body is a metaphor for the issues in your life.
Keeping your body in shape can have a positive effect on your self-esteem and your general physical health.
Lack of a gym membership is no longer an excuse to avoid a healthier lifestyle.
I converted to a fitter and healthier lifestyle in grad school when my girlfriend bought me a pair of dumbbells. You can do the same today, if you employ some of the tips listed above.
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