Chances are that most of us are going to need to spend a couple of weeks at home avoiding contact with other people. With regular events like Parkrun being suspended around the world, sporting competitions on an extended break and gyms becoming a potential hotspot for spreading the coronavirus, it might be time to look at at home options for staying fit.
The good news is that staying fit doesn't require lots of equipment. But it probably requires a rethink. If you're accustomed to spending an hour or so at the gym using lots of equipment it's unlikely you'll be able to replicate your workout at home.
The Chris Hemsworth Exercise Hack
"Exercise snacking" is a simple technique that works a bunch of large muscle groups and helps break up a work day. Here's how it works.
At the end of each hour, do:
- 20 pushups
- 20 squats
Chris Hemsworth does this when he's shooting a movie. If you focus on the negative part of each movement (the bit where you lower your body) as well as when you push up then you'll give most of the large muscle groups in your body a work out.
That should take you less that two minutes and by the end of a work day you'll have not only moved away from your desk, giving your brain a break but you'll have knocked out well over an hour of exercise without feeling like you've taken a massive chunk out of your day.
Seven minute workouts
There are dozens of 7-minute workout apps in the Google Play and iOS App Stores.
They all rely on bodyweight and isometric exercises. You perform 12 different exercise for 30 seconds each (it's about time, not the number of repetitions you perform) with a 10 second break to transition between exercises. The exercises include pushups, squats, wall sits, step-ups (you'll need a solid bench, chair or step for those), crunches and variations. The apps include videos and animations to show you how to perform the exercises.
I'd recommend doing three or four of these each day to break things up and keep the blood and oxygen flowing.
I'm a fan of kettlebell workouts. While you do need to invest in some kettlebells, it's a pretty inexpensive way to equip yourself with the gear you need for a solid strength session.
I picked up a cheap pair of 7.5kg and a single 12.5kg 'bell on sale at Aldi a while ago but you'll find them at KMart as well as places like Rebel. Alternately, you could just put an old brick or two in a bucket to achieve a similar result.
My 'go to' kettle bell workout is pretty straight forward and takes about half an hour depending on how many sets I do. It combines a heavy low-rep movement with a lighter high-rep exercise. There are three combinations.
- Combo 1: Heavy - 10 squats. Light - 20 kettlebell swings
- Combo 2: Heavy - 10 deadlifts. Light - 20 clean and jerks
- Combo 3: Heavy - 10 bent-over rows. Light - 20 pushups with rotation
I repeat each pair of exercises three to five times depending on how much time I have and what other activity I undertake.
You can get a great resistance workout using heavy duty rubber bands of differing elasticity. I have a few at home, hooked under the legs of the couch so they're well anchored. But they can also be used in other ways.
There's a great list here of resistance band exercises you can do that covers your whole body.
If you don't have a treadmill, elliptical trainer or exercise bike at home, getting a regular cardio workout might be challenging. But if you can get outside in your yard, or have high ceilings and a safe open space in your home, skipping is great way to boost your heart rate.
I typically do three or four sets of three minutes of skipping between other exercise. For example, when I do my kettlebell routine, I do three minutes of skipping between each combo. This keeps my heart rate up so my cardiac muscles get a workout along with the rest of my body.
Mix it up
Our bodies are very adaptable so mixing things up is a good idea. You could use all these approaches on different days or combine them.
For example, you could make Monday kettlebell day, do some 7-minute workouts on Wednesday and a combination of resistance bands and skipping on Friday. That gives you about 90 minutes of exercise a week. Assuming you work out with some intensity, that gets you the Australian exercise guidelines for adults.