What to do:
Do 1 bodyweight exercise a day for a week, for 5 minutes each day
Strength training is not just for macho bodybuilders. Although cardiovascular exercise is still a great way to have a workout, by adding strength training to your exercise regime you will enable your body to burn more calories throughout the day and even while you're asleep – here's how.
For every pound of muscle you gain via strength training, your body will burn around 50 extra calories every minute of every day. The research shows that regular strength training can actually increase your Basal Metabolic Rate by as much as 15%. Let's break that down – if you currently burn 2000 calories a day, you have the potential to burn an extra 300 calories everyday just by having an increased muscle mass.
Here's the great part, weight training is just as beneficial for women as it is for men. Women often shy away from resistance exercise due to the fear of an increased muscle leading to a masculine appearance, but fear not! Testosterone is a huge factor in the development of muscle shape, without it women's muscles develop differently from their male counterparts, meaning adding moderate strength training to their regime will not lead to a bulky, masculine physique.
The key is to perform compound (using more than one muscle group) exercises to make the most of your workout. Here are six exercises you can do at home to get you started, and they all don't involve any equipment.
1) Push Ups
One of the most effective bodyweight workouts and a safer alternative to the bench press. Predominantly works your chest, triceps and core. Place your hands and toes on the floor, ensuring your back and arms are straight. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and you should concentrate on tensing your abdominal muscles. Inhale as you lower yourself towards the floor, stopping as you reach a 90° bend at the elbows. Keep your body from touching the floor. Exhale and push yourself away from the floor. Try not to lock out your elbows or bend your back.
Great exercise as it uses big muscles groups in the legs and bum. Stand with your legs spread shoulder-width apart. Point your toes forward or slightly outward (however you feel most comfortable). Push your shoulders back and tense your abdominal muscles to maintain good posture. Place your arms in front of you, perpendicular to your body and bend at the knees in a sitting motion whilst exhaling. Hold for a few seconds and then inhale whilst returning to an upright position. Movement should be slow and intentional.
A tough full body exercise. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart. Squat down placing your hands on the floor in front of you and quickly kick your feet back so that you end up in a push up position. Bring your feet back towards your chest and push with your arms to jump high in the air resuming the start position upon landing. Try to land softly by bending your knee upon impact.
4) Tuck Jumps
A tuck jump is a simple exercise which improves power and agility. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Squat down and powerfully jump straight up whilst exhaling and bringing your knees toward your chest in midair. Try to land as gently as you can by sinking down into a squat to absorb the impact.
5) V-Sit Abdominal Exercises
This exercise focuses on all your core muscles. Start in laying flat on your back, contract your abdominal muscles and exhale whilst lifting your legs up to a 45-degree angle and reaching your arms straight forward towards your toes so that your head and shoulder are off the ground. Maintain the tension in your core whilst holding this position for a couple of seconds before returning to the starting position.
Another great exercise for your legs. Start with feet hip-width apart. Take a large step forward with either foot, planting the foot firmly on the floor and then bending the knee to a 90° angle with your back knee an inch or so from the ground. Ensure you back is straight by tensing your core throughout. Exhale and push yourself back up with your front leg to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
As always, stretch for a few minutes before exercising, and if you feel any discomfort, it's better to stop than continue.
About Luke Rose: Luke is a personal trainer. You can follow him in many ways. He writes a blog which you can read here. You can also follow him on Twitter or on Facebook. If you prefer email, you can contact him at lukerose.personaltrainer (AT) gmail.com.