Stay in, workout!

03 April 2020 | Healthy living

With the ongoing COVID-19 situation, almost all of us will be spending lots of time at home, which can mean sitting down more than normal. So it’s especially important to find new ways to keep moving.

The good news is that there are lots of practical things you can do to keep active – you can bring the gym into your home – and all with no equipment! My wife has kindly demonstrated them for you.

The all-over-body workout

The following exercises not only help to strengthen and tone your muscles; they also give your heart and lungs a workout. Remember to start slowly, and don’t over-exert yourself, especially if you haven't done the exercises before. If any of these exercises cause discomfort, please stop.

Warming up

Before starting, aim to spend five minutes walking or lightly jogging on the spot to get your body warmed up. It's also a good idea to do some light stretching before you start. Go into each stretch slowly and hold for 15–20 seconds. 

How to warm up

Rest for 30 seconds–1 minute after each of the below exercises.

Squats – works front of thigh (quadriceps) and bottom (glutes)

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and keep your core (stomach muscles) tight
  • Bend your knees and push your hips back as you slowly lower down into the squat. Keep your core engaged, chest lifted, and back flat
  • Keeping your back flat, push through your heels to stand back up to the starting position
  • Repeat 10–20 times

How to do squats

Wall push-ups – works chest, shoulders and back of upper arms (triceps)

  • Facing a wall, stand an arm’s length away and feet shoulder-width apart
  • Lean forward and put your palms flat against the wall at shoulder-height and shoulder-width apart
  • Keeping your core tight, slowly push yourself back until your arms are straight
  • Repeat 10–20 times

How to do wall push-ups

Lunges – works quadriceps and glutes

  • Stand upright, and keep your core tight (stomach muscles)
  • Take a big step forward with your right leg
  • Keeping your back flat, slowly lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor
  • Push through your heel so that your right leg is straight, keeping your back flat
  • Repeat for both legs
  • Repeat 10–20 times

How to do lunges

One-arm rows – works the back muscles

  • Place one arm on a chair, keep your back flat and look ahead
  • Hold a can or full water bottle in your free hand, letting it hang straight towards the floor with your elbow loose
  • Keeping your chest and head up, slowly lift the can towards your hip. Your upper body should be parallel to the floor, and your elbow pointed towards the ceiling
  • Slowly lower the can under control back to the starting position
  • Repeat for both arms
  • Repeat 10–20 times

How to do one-arm rows

Presses – works the shoulder muscles

  • Hold a can in each hand, stand with your feet firmly on the floor about hip-width apart (or sit down if more comfortable) and keep your core tight
  • Bend your elbows and raise your upper arms to shoulder height so the cans are at shoulder level
  • Push the cans up overhead, keep a slight bend in your elbows, your core tight and your back upright
  • Slowly lower the cans back to shoulder level, keeping your core tight and back upright
  • Repeat 10–20 times

How to do shoulder presses with water bottles

Curls – works the front of the upper arm (biceps)

  • Hold a can in each hand, stand upright (or sit down if more comfortable), keep your core tight and shoulders back
  • Hold the cans to the side of your legs, arms fully extended, and palms facing forward
  • Bend your elbows and curl the cans up to your shoulders, make sure you curl all the way to the top, keeping your arms tucked into your sides
  • Slowly lower the cans, making sure to straighten your arms until they are next to your legs where you started
  • Repeat 10–20 times

How to do upper arm (bicep) curls

Kickbacks – works the triceps

  • Using a chair, rest one arm on the chair, keeping your back flat and head facing forward
  • Bend one arm at the elbow while the other arm stays on the chair
  • With your elbow against your side, straighten the arm out behind you keeping the elbow in place
  • Bend your elbow again so that the can comes back slowly to the starting position
  • Repeat for both arms
  • Repeat 10–20 times

How to do tricep kickbacks

Crunches – works the stomach (abdominal muscles)

  • Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Place your hands on your thighs
  • Slowly curl up towards your knees until your shoulders are about three inches off the floor
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and lower down slowly
  • Try to keep a gap between your chin and chest on each repetition
  • Repeat 10–20 times

How to do sit-ups (stomach crunches)

Once you can get through a circuit (one of each exercise) comfortably, build up to two circuits. You can make the exercises harder by increasing the repetitions or performing each exercise more slowly. Try to do these exercises twice a week. When you feel ready, increase this to every other day.

Cooling down

When you've finished, spend five minutes stretching. Go into each stretch slowly and hold for around 30 seconds. 

How to cool down after exercising

  • Our resources page has lots more activities for you to try during lockdown, including how to stay flexible.
Matt Lambert | 03 April 2020