Tip of the Week
We have all been dealing with added financial stress over the past year, so it's not surprising that some of us have been watching our expenses more carefully even when it comes to exercising.
Gym memberships are declining because fitness related expenses are often perceived as a luxury. While we should always incorporate healthy fitness activities in our daily lives to help improve our quality of life, we don’t need to join a gym to accomplish just that. In-home workouts using more affordable fitness equipment, or just our own body weight, are indeed time-effective, they can fit in everyone’s busy schedule and can help us reach our healthy goals. Remember, where there is a will there is a way…
On the positive side, it is very easy to get a great workout at home with minimal fitness gear. Here are some ideas for your inexpensive at home workouts:
1. The Step Aerobic Step
A step can be used for more than one activity. It can be used for cardio activities, such as step aerobics, but also as a weight bench. Just get enough risers and you can change your step to become an incline, decline or flat bench, to vary your weight training.
Step-ups with dumbbells:
Butt/Hips, Legs – Thigh muscles
Start by standing with your feet parallel to each other, at about hip width apart while holding dumbbells in your hands with palms facing inwards. Pull your shoulders down and back. Do not shrug your shoulders upwards. Slowly step up to place your right foot on the Step placing your foot firmly on top of it while keeping your torso upright and aligning your knee over your second toe. Push off with the left leg to raise your body onto the Step placing that foot alongside your right foot. During this transition, try to avoid excessive forward movement. Slowly load the weight of your body into your right foot, step backwards to place the left foot on the floor in its starting position. Allow your body to lean slightly forward during the step-down movement. Load your weight into your left foot and step off the Step with your right foot, returning to your starting position. Repeat the exercise with the other leg. Perform 20 steps on each leg before switching to the other side. Repeat 3 times. Initially hold 2lbs dumbbells and successively increase the weight as you become stronger.
2. Dumbbell sets
2lbs, 3lbs and 5lbs they can be used alone or in combination with the equipment listed below.
Chest press on the Step:
Upper Chest muscles
Lie down on your inclined step and begin by holding your weights (initially use 2lbs dumbbells and successively increase the weight when comfortable) in each hand straight up over your chest, with your palms facing out. Bend your elbows and lower your arms down until your elbows are just below your chest (elbows bent at 90 degrees). Press the weights back up without locking your elbows and bring them close together. Repeat for 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. Keep your abs contracted throughout the movement to protect your back. Move slowly and in a controlled way without using momentum.
3. Resistance Bands and Tubes
By using bands you can get a full body workout, no matter where you go. They are small enough to fit in your suitcase and versatile enough to use in any room. They also provide an increased negative resistance so that your muscles get a more engaging and more challenging workout.
Walking side squats with Bands:
Strengthens all lower body muscles; spine extensors and abs stabilizers.
Loop a medium resistance band around your ankles or around your thighs, then stand with hands in front of your chest, feet wider than shoulder width apart, torso and chest up, feet parallel to each other. Legs are bent at the knee at 90 degrees. Step to your right with your right foot, toes forward and feet wider than hip-width apart. Bend your knees into a squat position, keep your body weight towards your heels while pressing out against the band. Keep your legs in a squat position, bringing your left foot in towards the right. Continue stepping to the right with your right foot for 25 times. Perform 3 sets of 25 steps on the right side. Repeat the sequence, stepping to the left. Take a wide enough step to ensure that both your outer and inner thighs muscles control the tension of the band.
Tip of the Week
The functions of the muscles of the outer thigh are for knee extension and hip flexion. While toned and strong legs with nice side dimples at the glutes are desirable, spot reduction by exercising alone is not realistically achievable. Spot reduction is the idea that you can lose fat from a specific area of your body by performing exercises targeting that particular area. Unfortunately, you cannot spot reduce (with the exception of liposuction!), but you can: follow a healthy nutrition, incorporate regular cardiovascular exercise such as running, swimming, bicycling and kickboxing, and complete a circuit strength training program 4-5 days a week to reduce your overall body fat and eventually reduce the adipose layer deposited on top of your Outer Thigh Muscles.
You can also incorporate the following strength building and sculpting exercises in your daily routine...and always remember to stretch after a workout for increased flexibility.
Build your strong outer thigh muscles
Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, bending your knees to 90 degree, keep your chest up by looking straight ahead of you and keep your back in a neutral position. Do not curve your spine. Engage your core muscles and contract your abdominals. Now jump up and land softly again in the squat position. Use the strength in your legs and butt to jump up explosively and use your core muscles for balance and stability. Remember to land as softly as you can with your knees bent; keep your weight back, over your heels. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
(Photo courtesy of mybodybeats.com)
The Single-Leg Circle
Begin by lying back on the mat with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down. Point with your left foot, as if reaching out with your toes toward the ceiling, and rotate your leg slightly outward. Inhale, and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving your whole leg, but keeping your hips still. Don't lift your left hip off the floor. Trace the circle on the ceiling 10 times in a clockwise direction. Repeat in a counter-clockwise direction. Switch legs and repeat 5 times.
(Photo courtesy of athleta.net)
Lying-down leg lift
Begin by lying on your left side, flat against the floor. Rest your head on your left upper arm. Rest your right arm on your right hip. Keep your legs straight. Using outer thigh muscle (abductor), lift right leg 6 inches off floor. Keep right toe in flexed position (not a pointed position). Exhale (breathe out) as you lift your leg. Using resistance with the outer thigh muscle (not gravity), slowly lower your leg. Inhale (breathe in) as you lower your leg. Repeat exercise for 3 sets of 25 repetitions. Then, switch leg and repeat the entire sequence on your right side. Remember to breathe regularly throughout the exercise keep your body straight and your hips aligned (one on top of the other).
(Photo courtesy of womenshealthmag.com)
Stretch your outer thigh muscles
Crossover sit leg stretch
Sit on the floor with legs stretched out forward and together. Feet should be flexed. Bending at the knee, cross the right leg over the flat left leg. Slip your left arm across your chest and touch your left elbow to your right knee. Fingers should be touching the floor with a straight arm. Use the resistance created by your elbow pressing against your knee to stretch your outer thigh muscle. Hold this stretch for a 15 count. Perform 5 reps on each side.