A simple and effective home workout for beginners. No equipment required!
Strength training can be intimidating. I get it. I remember walking into the gym the very first time in college. I was terrified. The sound of the weights. The size of some of those guys. Everything. Plus, where do you even start? I felt overwhelmed. I had no idea what I was doing.
In this post, I will show you a simple 2 exercise workout to break down some of these barriers, build strength, and help get you started with fitness.
Squats will not just strengthen your legs, bum, and core but will also increase flexibility in your hips and ankles. So it’s an all-around great exercise. You get a lot of bang for your buck.
Here, you’re going to focus on a bodyweight squat.
How it’s done:
1. Put your arms straight out in front of you or clasp your hands behind your head.
2. Shoulder width stance, toes pointed outwards slightly.
3. Put pressure on the outside of your heels
4. Slowly bend your hips and knees, sitting back as you do so. Imagine there’s was a chair behind you that you’re going to sit down on.
5. Squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the floor.
6. Reverse the motion and stand up, pushing through your heels.
7. Once you’ve fully stood up, repeat steps 1-6 for the desired number of reps.
– Knees should track over your shoelaces. In other words, drive your knees outward, opening your hips up as you squat.
– Heels shouldn’t come off the ground at any point.
– Keep your abs tight and your back straight throughout
You’ve no doubt heard of planks. But did you know most people do these horribly wrong and miss out on all the benefits like improved core strength, reduced back pain, and looser hips?
Because proper plank is all about proper posture.
The big mistake most people make is holding planks for absurd lengths of time. But what if I told you it was better to hold a plank with perfect posture for 5 seconds than an imperfect plank for 10 minutes?
Because the goal of a plank is to train the core to keep the spine in its safest, strongest position. (http://www.ahs.uwaterloo.ca/~mcgill/fitnessleadersguide.pdf) This position is called neutral. Neutral is what most would describe as “good posture”: a slight arch in the low back with a slight round in the upper back and a slight arch in the neck, i.e., a normal standing posture.
Maintaining this position in a plank will do much for core strength. However, if you arch your back and stick your head forward too much, your lower back and hip flexors do all the work, leaving the abs behind.
The best way to figure out what neutral feels like for you is grab a broomstick or PVC pipe. Place it along the length of your spine. If your spine is in neutral, there should only be 3 points of contact with the broomstick:
1. The back of your head
2. Your upper spine (about in between your shoulder blades.
3. Your tailbone
How To do a perfect plank
1. Start on all fours with a mirror to your side to check your posture.
2. Still on your hands and knees, adjust your spinal position until you “find neutral.”
3. Once you get your spine in a good position, brace your abs HARD like you’re about to get a soccer ball to the stomach.
4. Hold onto that ab tension throughout the next step.
5. Watching yourself in the mirror, extend your legs one at a time into the plank position. As you do so, make sure you maintain the posture you established in steps 1-4. If you lose it, go back to step 1.
6. Hold the plank for about 5s.
7. Drop to your knees, not your tummy, because you want to kick the habit of arching your back too much. Plus, every time you start planning, you’re going to go through these steps to ensure you’re getting all the awesome benefits of the exercise.
Now, if you can’t do this on the floor yet, elevate your hands on something like a desk or couch. Progressively find lower and lower objects to place your hands on until you can do the exercise on the floor.
Gradually, as you get stronger, you’ll increase the time you hold the plank. But remember, don’t sacrifice good posture for added time on the clock. If you can hold an absolutely perfect plank for a minute, you’re ready for more advanced plank variations.
Using these two exercises, you’re going to have an awesome home workout. It’s simple. Really simple. That’s why it’s effective.
A1 Squat 5 x 10
A2 Plank 5 x 5s
That’s it. Set of squats. Set of planks. Set of squats. Set of planks etc.
Do this workout 2 or 3 times a week to start.
The first time you do this workout, give yourself lots of rest in between exercises. Then, as you get more fit, restless and less. Because doing this workout with zero rest is quite difficult. By that point, you’ll know how much more fit you are than when you first started.