In Home Workouts
Staying in shape isn't as simple as some magazines and fitness "experts" would have you believe. Most of us are on pretty busy schedules and fitting in a workout, or even a quasi-workout doesn't always land at the top of the list. For those who would like to have time every day to hit the gym but just aren't able to make it work, below is a short list of movements you can do at home that require little to no equipment, and can be done first thing in the morning. While I'm not a morning person by any stretch, setting my alarm for 15 minutes earlier than usual and throwing myself on the floor is a small price to pay to make sure I take care of my #1 asset - my body.
RISE AND SHINE!
I don't know about you, but years of lifting weights (initially improperly - hey, I was 16) led me to the exciting world of sciatica. While I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, I know plenty of people live with it every day. With that in mind, I like to start off by stretching for a minute or two. I also like to stretch because I can do it with my eyes closed, and that's a nice little transition from being sound asleep to being awake enough to move around on the floor.
Start on your back and pull your knees up to your chest. Wrap your arms around your legs so you achieve that summertime-at-the-town-pool-cannonball position. Slowly rock from side to side about 20 times. While I don't know the technical name (there has to be one - there is always a technical name), this one just feels good on my lower back and kind of massages the area affected by the sciatica. I'm no doctor, but years of doing this while tight/in pain really helped loosen my lower back up, and that's all I really cared about. When you've had enough of that, move on...
Laying on your stomach, extend your arms out in front of you and assume the plank position (if you're not familiar, Google will help). From the plank position, raise yourself up from your hips to make an inverted "V". This is also called the dolphin position. Then return to the plank position. You will be on your forearms the entire time. This is also a great warm-up for your abs, arms and shoulders. Repeat this for 30-60 seconds. Or if you're like me and a terrible counter of time, do this for 20 reps.
Now for the fun part...
Since you're probably a little more awake now, time for my favorite exercise: push ups. Ok, so maybe it's not my absolute favorite exercise to perform but I do love the way my arms look after a few weeks of doing them consistently, and that's enough for me. Push-ups work your arms, abs, shoulders and chest to help achieve that toned, lean look in your upper body. Start either in a high plank position or on your knees with your shoulders in line with your wrists, and your back straight. Bend your elbows and lower your body parallel to the floor. Push through your palms to raise your body back to the original position. Repeat this for as many times as you can. If you can only do a few, that's ok. Every morning, try to do more than you did the day before.
Next, since you're already there, move on to the plank position. Lying parallel on the floor and resting on your forearms, straighten your back out like a board. Try to keep your rear end down so that your body is flat and parallel with the floor, but not touching the floor. What's nice about this is there's nothing to do, really. Just hold that position for as long as you can. If you want to make sure you did this right, wait until the next day, and then try laughing. If it hurts, you're doing a great job!
Now that you're warmed up, switch to hip extensions. Same position as the plank, but instead of having both legs and both arms on the ground, support yourself on your forearms/elbows and one knee. Then lift the other knee slightly off the floor, then behind the other leg. Then fully extend the leg. Support yourself on your elbows and one knee, lift the other knee slightly off the floor and behind the other leg, then fully extend the leg. If the name doesn't give it away, that will help extend and stretch your hips. If your hips have ever been super tight, limiting your range of motion, you probably already know the value of this one.
Ok, you can stand up now...
If you've gotten to this point without skipping anything, you should be warmed up (and awake) enough to get on your feet. Anyone who has survived gym class knows this next one...jumping jacks. I hear your groaning, but this one gets your blood pumping and elevates your heart rate enough to get a little cardiovascular benefit as well. Bring your arms above your head and extend your legs simultaneously. Repeat for one minute.
I promise this is the last thing...
This is another full-body move called a jump squat. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and get in a squat position. Remember, and this is important, to make sure that your knee doesn't extend out over your toe. Doing this will help you avoid injury and should pretty much be used in any squat-position scenario. Never let your knees pass your toes. Once you get in that position, jump up from the squat, land returning to the squat position, and continue. Do this for 10-20 reps.
So that's it. It takes about 15 minutes from rolling out of bed and onto the floor to being finished. Of course, there are other ways to wake up in the morning and start your day. All of mine involve coffee and most of them involve what I just went over. Done regularly, you will feel and see a difference in your body, and hopefully your energy level! Happy exercising!
*Feedback is always appreciated. If there is a fitness-related article you'd like to see from TPO, feel free to reach out and let me know!