7 easy exercises that bring big results
You know you need to work out more – but that doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or running a marathon. These seven simple exercises will help you build all-round body strength, and you can do them anywhere, any time! (No special equipment required, and no PT class push-ups or sit-ups, we promise.)
One small thing: Need to get from one end of your house to the other? Do walking lunges as you go.
Squats are incredibly simple (you do them without noticing every time you sit down), and hugely beneficial to your whole body, especially your leg muscles. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and – keeping your back straight – slowly lower yourself by bending your knees while moving your hips back. Try a few variations as you get stronger: continue lowering yourself until your hips are below you knees, or hold weights.
OK, so we know we said we wouldn’t make you do push-ups… but to do the plank, you’ll have to get into the familiar push-up pose. Place your hands directly under your shoulders, stretching yourself parallel to the floor with your back and legs nice and straight, like you’re about to do a push-up. Now hold that pose. And hold it. And… hold it for as long as you can. Aim for 20 seconds, then try to push for a minute or longer. Planking is great for building core strength (and for those killer abs you keep dreaming about).
You’ll want to do this one in the privacy and comfort of your own home. An old CrossFit favourite, it’s done by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat. Now place your hands on the floor directly in front of your feet, and jump your feet back to land in a plank position. Hold that for a beat, then jump your feet back, go back into the squat, and then explosively jump into the air. Land, and immediately repeat that whole merry dance.
4. Air swimming
Here’s another bodyweight move you can do at home – although you may feel a little silly doing it. Lie on your tummy, with your arms extended overhead. Now lift your chest, arms and legs off the floor and squeeze your glutes (i.e. your bottom) … and swim! Flutter your arms and legs up and down in short, quick motions while keeping them off the floor. You’ll target your back and backside, giving you great balanced strength.
5. Wall sit
Waiting for the kettle to boil or the Gautrain to arrive? Find a wall, place your back against it, and drop into a squat (see #1). Hold that pose until the water’s boiled or the train to Hatfield pulls into the station. The wall sit sounds very easy, but you’ll get jelly legs before too long – and that’s a sign you’re building strength in your legs and glutes.
6. Walking lunge
Need to get from one end of your house to the other? Do walking lunges as you go. Again, it’s easy: start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips, then step forward with one leg, bending your knees until your hips are in line with your front knee. Drop until your back knee is nearly touching the ground, and keep your back nice and straight. That’s one step. Carry on the rest of the way like that. You’ll build strong knees and quads (upper leg and thigh muscles) as you go.
7. Calf stretch
Here’s one that’ll strengthen your calf muscles. Stand at arm’s length from a wall or a sturdy piece of furniture (like the kitchen counter, for example), with your palms flat against it. Keep one leg back with your knee straight and your heel flat on the floor, then bend your elbows and front knee, moving your hips forward until you feel a twinge in your calf muscle. Hold that, then switch legs. Go gently, and your Achilles tendon (which connects your heel bone to your calf muscle) will thank you.
Disclaimer: Pick n Pay recommends that your consult with your doctor or a medical professional before starting any new exercise programme. An exercise regimen is best tailored to the individual and their unique health profile. Any exercise carries risk of injury – especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. The individual accepts sole responsibility for any loss or damage that may result.