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Gym-less workouts: How to exercise with little space and equipment

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Standing tricep dips.2 / 5
Uoung couple prepare gymnastic exercises on the computer.3 / 5
Sportive Caucasian female athlete in black sports bra and leggings doing side squat exercise at home.4 / 5
Man in sports clothes performing stretch, pushing against door frame5 / 5

FARGO — With busy summer weekends filled with frequent out-of-town jaunts, fitness class schedules can seem so inconvenient.

A lack of space, equipment or even a gym membership can no longer justify those "I'll start tomorrow" mentalities.

"If you're wanting to start a general fitness routine or if you're new to exercising, there are many ways to improvise with everyday home items and turn them into tools for your workout routine," says Angela Lee, a local trainer and bodybuilder. "Items such as a soup can, table, chair and coffee table — even just a wall can be used for working out."

Stacey Allard, owner of Health Pros Personal Training, agrees. A person doesn't necessarily need expensive exercise equipment or a gym membership to maintain an effective workout at home.

"The good news of technology these days is that you can YouTube anything. Throw it in the search line and you can pull up a workout," Allard says.

Since 1996, Allard has focused on one-on-one and group training sessions at their training center. Today, she also offers 30-minute online training through her Skype session options.

"We do find that many people can figure out how to get their cardio in, but it's their strength training that they struggle with," Allard says.

Strength training reduces body fat and burns calories. As a person ages, strength training helps preserve muscle mass and bone density. While most are able to meet their goals for aerobic exercise, only 20 percent complete the recommended amount of muscle-strengthening activities to maintain muscle health according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Both trainers say if a person has the desire to get in shape, they can absolutely accomplish it without any equipment in any room of their home.

Shed the weight without 'weights'

Bodyweight exercises use the weight of a person's own body as resistance. Examples of these exercises include squats, lunges, jumps, planks, calf raises, wall sits and push-ups. Allard says using the body as resistance creates effective workouts at home, although she says to be mindful of techniques, especially if you have issues with your ankles, knees or back.

Some of Allard's clients only attend about one training session a month. Then they use the workout Allard creates for them at home. Others schedule more frequent workouts at the training center as it fits within their schedule, goals and budget. Allard says even if others cannot attend sessions regularly, they can still learn basic exercises that can be done — no matter the space available in their home.

To increase intensity of exercises, Lee says reduce the rest periods between sets.

Slide off the couch and try these exercises.

(See Lee demonstrate a modified squat in a short video on inforum.com.)

Tricep dips in the living room

Most often the open space in a living room is used for basic stretching, although "dips" — a pushing exercise that generally uses the chest, triceps and front shoulders — can be done with a chair or the couch.

"You can use any chair to do tricep dips, angled push-ups and challenging side planks," Lee says.

Using these steps, grab a chair and try a tricep dip:

• Place the hands behind the body, shoulder-width apart on a stable bench or chair.

• Slide your butt off the chair and extend your legs out in front of you. (Knees should be straight out in front.)

• Slowly lower your body toward the floor until your elbows bend to a 90-degree angle. Try to keep your back straight and as close to the chair as possible.

• Once you reach the 90-degree angle, press down on the chair to straighten your elbows and return to starting position.

• Repeat for desired amount of repetitions.

Note: Keep your shoulders down as you lower and raise your body. Modify this exercise by bending the knees at a slight angle instead of keeping the legs straight.

Soup can curls in the kitchen

The kitchen has a variety items that could be used in an at-home workout.

"A soup can easily be used for an overhead tricep extension, a bicep curl, lateral raises, bench press, bent over row or used while doing squats and lunges," Lee says.

Try a curl and grab a soup can, coffee can or even a gallon of water.

• Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.

• Grab the coffee can (or soup can) with a firm grasp.

• Position your elbows close to your torso and rotate the palms of your hands so they hang by your sides, facing forward. Keeping the upper arms stationary, lift or curl the can up until your biceps are fully contracted and the can is at shoulder level.

• Lower the can to the starting position, arms returning to the sides of your body.

• Repeat for desired amount of repetitions.

Note: Ensure each can is relatively the same weight when using two soup or coffee cans.

Overhead raises and squats in the bedroom

Even that crocheted pillow can be used to position shoulders correctly for squats — a basic strength training exercise that can be used to perfect more advanced weight lifting exercises. Try this combo move to work the core, quad muscle groups and arms:

• Grab a throw pillow, placing your palms on each side of it.

• Hold the pillow straight out in front of you.

• Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward.

• As you squat down, raise the pillow overhead, keeping the arms straight.

• Repeat for desired amount of repetitions.

There may not always be time for a full workout or training session but these simple exercises allow any person to maintain their workout routine even without the gym.

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