We all live hectic lives and when we’re busy exercise can be the first thing to go -but adding some quick at-home workouts to your day can still have been results when it comes to toning up. Struggling to fit a whole fitness session into your day? We’ve got the answer to your workout woes and it comes in manageable pieces.
Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise five times a week; that’s what the experts recommend, and while the popularity of fitness is on the rise, there are still millions of us struggling to fit it in. And right now, when you’re dashing from one Christmas party to the next, have to do the food shopping and sort out last minute emergency pressies too, the holiday period can mean time is even more in demand. But help is at hand in the form of ‘exercise snacking’.
‘This is about breaking down your exercise into five-minute stints spread throughout the day,’ explains Everyone Active personal trainer Angela Loannou. ‘The science behind it actually shows that breaking longer workouts down into a few shorter bursts not only allows you to fit them into your schedule, but they can be more beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels, too. It has also been proven to reduce stress. When you work out for too long your body’s stress hormone, cortisol, begins to rise. This can actually encourage destruction of muscle tissue rather than growth.’
10 quick at-home exercises
Angela’s 10 exercises can all be done with limited space and next to no equipment. When done together they will work every muscle in your body and give you the same benefits as a 30-minute gym class.
These aren’t only great for your glutes and abs, but perfect for honing your balance, too. Remember to keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and chin up. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle before coming back up. Swap legs and repeat on the other side.
Heart-pumping Star jumps
We all did them back in school, and guess what? They’re great! Star jumps are the perfect exercise to get your heart racing, while also working your calves, glutes, abs and shoulders. Simply jump your arms and legs in and out as fast as you can, and try to get as wide as you can, too.
Core-working bicycle crunch
Strengthen abs and obliques without a bike thanks to bicycle crunches. Lie on your back, fingers touching your temples or behind your head. Crunch up, bringing your right elbow and left knee to meet, return and repeat with the opposite elbow and leg. Alternate in this way as many times as you can.
Strengthen your lower back and improve your posture with this superhero-inspired move. Lie on the floor face down with your arms stretched out in front of you either side of your head. Raise your arms and legs as high as possible so only your stomach remains on the floor, hold for a count of three seconds, lower and repeat.
Ab-toning Mountain climbers
These might be tough, but they’re hugely effective. Do them as fast as you can and they will work wonders for your abs, arms and glutes. Start in a press-up position on the floor with your hands shoulder-width apart and your legs out straight. Bring one knee up though to the space between your elbows and then straighten it out. Then do the same with your other leg. Alternate legs as fast as you can.
Shoulder-boosting shoulder bridge
This will help tighten and strengthen your glutes and lower back and also stretch the hip flexors and shoulder muscles. Lie on your back face up with your hands by your side, palms down. With your feet flat on the floor, move your heels as close to your bottom as you can. Next, push your hips up into the air and bridge as high as you can so only your upper back is touching the floor, using your hands for stability, then gently lower your hips back down to the floor and repeat.
Thigh-bolstering ski squats
This is another great move to strengthen those glutes and thighs. With your back against a wall, squat down so your legs are at 90 degrees and hold. To increase the difficulty, move away from the wall slightly and slowly ‘pulse’ up and down as you squat.
As the name suggests, these will target your glutes and legs. Kneeling down on all fours, kick one foot out, up and back behind you, squeezing your bottom as you do so. Have a slight bend in your leg and reach as high as you can with your foot before bringing it back down and changing legs. If you want to make it harder, add ankle weights.
Less intense than regular press-ups, work surface press-ups are still ideal for working your triceps, shoulders and chest muscles. Using a surface such as your kitchen worktop, desk or even a wall, stand about a metre away from it, hands a shoulder-width apart, place them on the surface, then bend your elbows and lower your body towards the surface before straightening your arms and pushing back up.
These work your whole body. They might be painful, but when done in short bursts they’re more bearable and just as effective. Squat till your bottom is parallel with your knees, then come back up – keep your back straight and try not to arch as you go back down. If you need support, place your hands shoulder-width apart on a work surface.
5-minute top-to-toe workouts
Try Angela’s exercises in five different combinations to be done throughout your day. The key is to go from one muscle group to the next to minimise risk of poor form or injury.
Angela recommends 40 seconds of exercise then 20 seconds rest before doing the next exercise…
- Workout 1 – Star jumps, mountain climbers, squats, surface press-ups, lunges
- Workout 2 – Star jumps, bicycle crunches, kickbacks, surface press-ups, ski squats
- Workout 3 – Mountain climbers, superman, squats, shoulder bridge, kickbacks
- Workout 4 – Shoulder bridge, surface press-ups, wall sit, star jumps, lunges
- Workout 5 – Lunges, bicycle crunches, star jumps, squats, kickbacks Total time: 25 minutes