No time to exercise? Start off with a few minutes of these basic exercises and calisthenics, just a couple of times per week, and watch your fitness routine grow over time and your body fat shrivel away.
This page was designed for people like me.
People who want simple – not to be confused with ‘easy’– exercises that will tone their body’s primary muscles and build strength for endurance sports without any fancy equipment.
I had to give up my weight bench years ago when my ‘Me Room’ became our son’s nursery. Today, I don’t miss the weight equipment at all. I can do my strength workouts almost anywhere and exercise almost every muscle in my body.
Most of these exercises are probably familiar to you, but I’ve included explanations and pictures to guide you through the motions. I’ve also listed the muscle groups (layman’s terms) that you’ll be working with each exercise.
These basic exercises will really tone your body and build more muscle. Add them to your weekly routine and stick to them. If you can start doing some push-ups and crunches just 3 times a week, this will greatly enhance your fitness plan. As you become comfortable with that, add another exercise in a month.
If you prefer going to the gym, by all means, use the weights and machines. These exercises can enhance your gym workout, or provide for a good substitute when you can’t get to a gym.
These exercises will burn calories both in the workout themselves and in the raised metabolism you’ll gain with more lean muscle. I log this activity on my workout log under calisthenics.
Push-ups are a great resistance exercise, which primarily build your chest and shoulders. The triceps and back also get a fair workout.
Start with your hands shoulder-width apart; keep your back straight (i.e. don’t stick your butt into the air); and lower yourself towards the ground until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Push up and exhale as you do.
Do enough to ‘feel it’, but don’t push yourself to exhaustion.
Remember: You’re building long-term habits.
There are numerous variations of crunches, each targeting a different part of your abdominal muscles (abs).
I like the crunches with my feet of the ground (either straight up, or knees bent – as shown).
Raise your upper back a few inches off the floor while slowly exhaling. You can take your right elbow to left knee and vice-versa to target the oblique abdominals (side of your abs).
The key with these is to make sure that your abs are doing the work. Don’t pull your neck – your hands should be placed on the side of your head. Tuck your chin to your chest, if you find yourself pulling your neck.
Like all of these exercises, you will get used to doing them with time. We’re shifting your comfort zone, one step (or crunch) at a time!
Slowly raise yourself up on your toes and lower heels back down.
Do enough repetitions to ‘feel it’, but don’t over-due it or the stairs will be an obstacle tomorrow morning.
As these get easier over time (and they will as you keep doing them), do one leg at a time with the other leg bent at the knee and behind you.
The Squat is an important basic exercise and works a large muscle group that we often overlook. Squats workout your hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles.
Keep your back straight, hands at your side and slowly lower your weight by bending your knees. Raise yourself and exhale. Feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart.
As these get easier over time, do them on one leg (put the other leg straight out in front of you, suspended in the air).
PULL UPS / CHIN UPS
For pull-ups and chin-ups you may need to install a bar or improvise – not your pipes at home, though!
This basic exercise works out your back, chest, and arm muscles. It also strengthens your grip. The wider grip will work more back and lat muscles, while the narrow grip will work the tricep muscles.
Start with a few sets of a manageable number of repetitions.
Chin-ups (palms inward) will also build the bicep muscles.
These basic exercises are a great foundation to a solid strength-building plan. A strengthening program can really be enhanced with a proper stretching routine, as well.
To calculate the calories you burn during the above basic exercises and other workouts, check out the calories-burned calculator.