With the Christmas holidays being a distant memory (along with the majority of our New Years’ Resolutions, guilty!), February brings with it a fresh wave of fitness motivation. After all, January was just a warm up, right? With Spring just around the corner, we want to focus on feeling good, fit and healthy.
We spoke with Chris Wharton, Co-owner and Director of the Better Body Group and an expert in body transformation. Having delivered over 10,000 hours of personal training sessions we put Chris to the test and asked him to put together a workout routine exclusively for Belle Magazine that you can follow cheaply at home, with exercise equipment you’ll have in your cupboard.
“Being a keen boxer, the skipping rope is one of my favourite pieces of kit” says Chris, “Most people haven’t tried skipping since primary school so the first attempt can be humbling. Stick with it, as it’s a great way to burn calories and get the heart and lungs pumping. Begin by finding a 4×6 ft area with at least 2 ft of space above your head. For beginners, I would suggest adding a soft mat under your feet where possible, as the activity can be quite stressful on the knees and ankles.”
What to do
1 min on 1 min off intervals
- Start skipping by jumping with two feet off of the floor for every rotation of the rope
- Try to use your wrists to rotate the rope rather than your arms
- This involves a bit of trial and error so stick with it!
- Use intervals of one minute on and 30 seconds off for 5 minutes to start with.
“The yoga mat is ubiquitous in studios and gyms all over” says chris, “It is great for any floor and body weight exercises so should certainly not spend its life stored away under the stairs. As well as providing great padding for knees, elbows and tailbone during workouts, it can also double up to provide extra padding for certain isometric exercises like the front plank. I would certainly say it is a tool worth adding to your kit list, as comfort and convenience are key components to adhering to a workout plan.”
What to do
- Lay on your side on the yoga matt and prop your upper body up with your elbow
- Lay both legs out straight with your top leg laid just in front of the bottom leg
- Now drive your hips up off the floor and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute
- Be sure to maintain a straight line from ankle to shoulder
- Lower the hips to the floor and repeat on the other side.
Single leg hip thrust
- Lie flat on your back with your hands on your hips, legs bent, with the soles of your feet flat on the floor
- Straighten one leg and let it hover just off the floor
- Thrust your hips up as high as you can go and pause, squeezing the glutes
- Lower back down to starting position, then repeat 20 times for each leg.
“Stretch bands (and other variants) are often used for prehab and rehab exercises and stretches, which help to prevent injury” says Chris. “They can fit into your pocket with ease, are incredibly inexpensive but often go unused as they can seem limited at first glance. But with a bit of imagination, they can help increase the difficulty of a range of familiar bodyweight exercises. Consider adding them to squats, press ups etc.”
What to do
- Loop the band around both feet and both hands
- Cross the band over between hands creating an ‘X’ shape that increases resistance
- Keeping your hands at belly button height, take a big step to the side
- Now bring the trailing foot to within shoulder width distance of the lead foot
- Repeat for 12 steps in each direction
- Be sure to keep your trunk tight and spine neutral.
- Hold the band at either end, with your arms out straight in front of you at shoulder height
- Contract your glutes and trunks muscles to maintain a solid core
- Pull the band apart as far as you can by squeezing your shoulder blades together whilst keeping you arms straight
- Slowly return the band to its starting position.
“Perhaps the most useful item on this list, dumbbells are great for both strength training and circuit training” says Chris. “They are, however, also the biggest dust collectors on the list. They are right up there with the ‘cross trainer clothes horse’ for getting in the way and not really being used.”
“However, if you are really short on time or have no access to a gym, I would certainly add these to your home workout plan. Certain dumbbell exercises are also safer and more joint-friendly than their barbell equivalents”
What to do
- Hold two dumbbells at shoulder height with your palms facing one another
- Perform a full squat whilst keeping chest proud and eyes facing forward
- Drive up from the bottom of the squat into a standing position
- Simultaneously press the two dumbbells overhead and straighten your arms
- Slowly lower the weights back to your starting position.
Exercise ball (Swiss Ball)
“The exercise ball has become far less popular in recent years” notes Chris. “However they are still bought and then relegated to the gym gear graveyard. I personally think there are dozens of great exercises it can be used for, especially those involving trunk and core stability. They also benefit from being lightweight, durable and cheap. Ultimately, the exercise ball is a good addition to a traditional strength training workout, but not a replacement for it!”
What to do
Laying ball squeeze
- Simply lie on your back with the ball between your raised knees and hands
- Drive your lower back into the floor and squeeze the ball as hard as you can for 10 seconds
- Release the tension for 5 seconds then repeat a further 5 times.
To get (even) more value from your exercise ball, use it in place of your office chair. It will force you to sit with proper spinal alignment whilst increasing the number of calories you burn at your desk.
There you have it, a simple and quick workout you can complete in 20 mins in any room of the house. So bring your workout kit out of the cupboard and feel fit and healthy.