Weight loss exercises you can do at home
Exercise is an important part of any weight loss program, mainly because it increases metabolism while you’re exercising and for a while after. Also, more muscle means more fat burning, because muscle needs more energy to maintain than fat, so your body will burn more calories to maintain the muscle.Of course, a fit, healthy, toned body of any size looks better too.
If you’re on a weight loss program, remember that muscle weighs more than fat does, so if you are doing a lot of exercise, you may not see the shift on the scales you were expecting.
You will see a difference in size though, so measure as well as weigh yourself.
It’s difficult to start exercising after a long period of inactivity and the idea of joining a gym or sports club can be really intimidating. If there’s an activity you like doing, stick to it, whether it’s cycling, walking, Tai Chi or golf.
Just remember that experts recommend 3 sessions of 30 minutes a week to get any real benefit from the exercise. The best time of day to exercise for optimum benefit is first thing in the morning. We’re not all early birds or morning people though, and any exercise at any time of the day is better than none at all.
If formal sports or a gym are not for you, then exercising at home may be just the thing to get you started. Who knows, once you’re feeling stronger and fitter, you may join the local cycling club anyway!
We’ve divided the Home Exercises into Upper and Lower Body. Do Upper one day and Lower the next, or mix and match to do a few of both each day. When you start out, do as many repetitions as you can manage – you should be feeling them work, but not be so out of breath that you can’t talk.
Gradually work up to 10 repetitions, then do 2 sets of 10, then 3 sets. Let’s go!
Upper Body Exercises You can do At Home
1. Push ups
The classic push-up is still a winner, and you should aim for at least 10 repetitions. Remember to keep your back straight and your elbows in.
Once you’re up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions, wear a back pack with a few heavy books in it for extra weight. Men’s Health has a super variation called the T Push-up. Don’t try this until you’re comfortable with the classic push-up, and take it slowly – I got a little over-enthusiastic when raising my arm and swung myself right over onto my behind!
Do the classic push-up, and when your arms are straight, lift your right hand and rotate your body so you raise your right arm straight up over your shoulder to form a T. Bring your hand back to the floor, do another classic push-up and repeat on the left side.
Another variation specifically targets the triceps – those flabby arms are history ladies – called the ‘Close Grip Push-up’.
Start on your hands and knees, placing your hands about 6 – 8 inches apart (your thumbs should be able to touch if you extend them). Keeping your arms straight put your feet out and straighten your body. This is the starting position.
Now slowly lower yourself down until you almost touch the floor, then slowly push back up to the starting position. Visit www.etricep.com for more fantastic tricep exercises you can do at home.
2. Lateral and Front Raises
For the lateral raise, standing with your feet slightly apart and your hands at your sides, slowly raise your arms out to the side, to shoulder height, hold for a second, then slowly bring them down again. For the front raise, lift arms straight up in front of you until they are parallel with the floor.
Once you’re doing 10 of each 3 times, add some weight. Hold a brick, heavy book, bag, milk bottle filled with water – whatever’s handy!
3. Sit-ups and Crunches
Vary the normal sit-ups with side crunches (where you bend your left shoulder towards your right knee and vice versa), lateral stretches where you bend sideways, keeping your back straight, as if you’re trying to touch the side of your ankle.
Another good variety is to put your hands half way up your thigh, slide them up to your knees as you ‘sit-up’ and hold there for a few seconds (or as long as you can), then slowly lie down again.
Men’s Health has a V Up and Roll – again, probably better to try this one when you’re already managing the classic sit-ups.
Lying on your back with your legs and arms straight, fingers pointing towards the wall behind you, fold your body into a V, lifting your legs and upper body off the floor, stretching your arms towards your toes. Keep your back straight, pause, then return.
4. The Stick-up
I loved this one from Men’s Health – more difficult than it sounds! Stand with your back against a wall, feet slightly apart and 6 inches away from the wall. Put your arms up over your head in the classic ‘stick-up’ position.
Keeping your shoulders, elbows and wrists in contact with the wall, slide your arms down and tuck your elbows into your side. Return to the stick-up position and repeat. Anything you can carry can be used as a weight.
Try raising the laundry basket above your head and lowering it to almost touch your head, then raising it up again as you carry it to the machine.
Bringing the groceries in from the car can be a good workout too – try some bicep curls with a grocery bag in each hand! Raise your hand, inside arm up, bending at the elbow until parallel with the ground. Keep your elbows in, then lower again.
If the neighbours aren’t around, try lunges from the car to the front door carrying a bag in each hand.
Lower Body Exercises You can do at Home
Always good for the thighs and gluteus maximums, remember to keep your back straight as you bend your legs. A full shopping bag in each hand will add some weight for an even better workout – but maybe do this one once you’re inside the house!
2. Step Up
Great for the legs and behind, you can vary your routine to suit the stairs available.
a. On stairs or a low bench, keeping your feet on parallel lines, step up with one leg, down with the other. Repeat.
b. Walk on the spot for a minute to stretch, then step up and down the first step 10 times. Walk on the spot for 15 seconds. Walk up and down 2 steps 10 times, then walk on the spot – then three steps, and so on.
Try to get to the fifth step, but don’t go much farther than that. (And if you’re doing this at work, use the fire escape stairs so you don’t get funny looks). Taking the stairs instead of the escalator is always a good idea, and if you have to take an escalator, walk up or down it.
3. High Steps and knee raises
Jog in place for 1 minute, lifting your knees as high as you can. Try marching with your knees as high as you can manage while you’re washing the dishes.
4. Calf Raises
Good for the calves as well as strengthening the ankles, these can be done almost anywhere – at the sink washing dishes, in a queue at the store – anywhere you’re standing still. Standing with your feet slightly apart, lift up onto your toes slowly, hold for a second, then slowly lower again.
Once you’ve got the hang of it on both legs, try one leg at a time, holding the other slightly bent so the foot is off the ground.
5. Leg Raises
There are a number of different leg raises you can do to work on the thighs and behind. Lying on your side with your hips and ankles in line with your shoulders, slowly lift your top leg as high as possible, hold for a second or two, then slowly return to the starting point. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
For the inner thighs, lie on your left side in line as above, but with your right leg bent at the knee at a 90 degree angle. Slowly lift your LEFT leg as high as possible, hold, then return.Do 10 times, and switch sides.
Lunges are another great lower body exercise that can be done at home – when you’re picking up after the kids, or even vacuuming.
Exercise doesn’t always need to be about tedious, repetitive tasks though. Next time the kids are jumping rope, go out and join them. Play ball or tag, or take the dog for a walk. A weekend hike is fun and a super way to exercise in the fresh air and sunshine, and it’s something you can do with friends or family.
A really fun way to get a workout is to pump up the volume. Put on your favourite CD, and dance! 30 minutes will do the trick, you don’t have to be Fred Astaire – and you can do it on your own! Chores are a great way to exercise too, and the thought of burning some fat may give you renewed enthusiasm for housework and gardening!
Even having sex can burn over 300 calories in 30 minutes – now who said exercising to lose weight wasn’t fun??