The key thing to remember is that in order to attain optimal body composition levels you need a combination of strength training and metabolic training. Some people have some weights at home and some don’t, so we’ll stick with body weight exercises since they still have the best bang for the buck, and most people have trouble doing them properly anyhow.
I’ll share some key go-to exercises and ways to plan a workout with them.
Pushups – Do your best to do full-body pushups, but if you can’t, go from the knees with great technique and you’ll still get a training effect. Check out this video for some tips.
Plank Rows – From a pushup position, you are going to drive an elbow up until it passes your body, while trying to maintain a strong plank position. Alternate arms.
Squats – This is the king of all exercises. You need to be able to squat low and well. Movement is initiated by the hips moving back and down. Knees should stay in the same position they start in. Heels stay on the ground as your weight shifts behind you, not in front of you. Also, back is arched and chest is up.
Hip Bridges – Strong glutes look great and produce powerful movement. Make sure you are doing lots of bridges to keep the glutes active and strong until you can get back to the gym and deadlift!! On your back, you want knees bent, with heels on the ground, and toes slightly raised (dorsiflexed). Push your hips in the air until you get a straight line from your head to your knees. Make sure the movement is created by the squeezing of the glutes, not the arching of the back. For added challenge, put one leg straight up in the air, and bridged with one glute only.
Lunges – It’s important to remember with lunges that you never want the knees to track too far forward, it means you aren’t using your hips enough to drop down. Alternate between forward, backward and lateral lunges for best results.
Planks - Elbows positioned under the shoulders, forearms on the ground, you want a nice flat body. Do not let the hips sag or else your back will really hurt. If anything, have your hips SLIGHTLY higher than the rest of your body. If you have a strong core, you can do 2-3min straight!
Plank Rows – I already mentioned these in upper body, but they are a hybrid upper/core lift, so you could use it for either category.
Skipping - Jumping rope is one of the best pieces of cardio equipment you can use. You can play around with two leg singles, alternating feet, doubles, or any other tricks you know. Just keep the pace high and you’ll get great results.
Sprints – I know it’s getting cold, so nobody wants to run outside. If you are gutsy, go for it. If you have room in a basement to do some suicides, go for that too.
Stairs – This is one of my favourite simple tools to use for conditioning at home. You can either go up and down one stair for time or reps, or go up and down and entire flight. Walking briskly up the stairs is the goal.
Putting It All Together
Now you need to figure out how to design a workout.
You can try to focus on one section per day (Core, lower body, upper body, metabolic), or alternate exercises from a given section during your workout.
Try doing all of these exercises for time, not reps.
Beginners – Use a 1:2 work to rest ratio. This means try 20s straight of an exercise followed by a 40 second rest. Then either repeat, or switch exercises.
Intermediates – Use a 1:1 work to rest ratio…10, 20, or 30s on and the same amount in rest right after.
Advanced – 2:1 work to rest ratio. 40s on, 20s off, or 20s on, 10s off. This is killer, so if you are picking an exercise you suck at…you won’t last long.
Try setting yourself up for workouts 10-20 minutes in length. If you are only using one or two exercises, this will give you plenty of sets to get a good training effect!
Don’t let the holidays turn you into a bucket of goo…stay in shape so January 1st doesn’t feel like a do or die to prevent type 2 diabetes or restart your goals.