BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES TO DO ANYWHERE
ESTELLE LOW shares her favourite basic yet very effective no-equipment exercises.
Bodyweight exercises are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to a growing trend in highintensity interval training, yoga and pilates. They can be done anywhere, and don’t require anything but a willing mind and body, and just 2m by 1m of space.
After attending a gazillion gym classes and working with trainers, I’ve learnt that these nine exercises are non-negotiable, because they are so good at burning and firming you in the right places. They may not look fancy, but the results are fantastic! 1 SQUATS You saw this coming. Targeting the major muscles – glutes, quads, core – it’s no wonder that squats always get called for in gym class. Big muscles, big burn! To start: Lower body and push hips back as if you’re sitting down. Shift body weight to heels and make sure tailbone is tucked. Knees should not go beyond ankles. Not feeling much? Turn the squat into a full-body workout by adding bicep curls or overhead presses with a dumbbell. Or add cardio by doing squat jumps. 2 BANANA You’re familiar with crunches and sit-ups. Now do the banana, another treat for the core. Lying face up, lift legs off ground and keep them as low as you can possibly hold. Lift upper back and extend arms overhead. Keep neck and shoulders relaxed. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. To dial down the intensity, bend knees and lift legs higher. 3 PUSH-UPS Love or hate them, push-ups are a must for building upper body strength, giving you toned arms, chest and shoulders. Plus, they fire up your whole body in a jiffy, and are the stepping stone to doing burpees. Start with knees on floor and graduate to man push-ups when you are stronger. Always make sure hands are directly under shoulders, and eyes are looking about 30cm ahead. Keep elbows about 45 degrees back; not flared out or tight to your ribs. Another way to train: start face down with chest touching floor, and then push up into plank position as smoothly as you can. 4 PLANKS The mother of all core exercises, planks are so popular for good reason: they activate all parts of the body – arms, shoulders, back, butt, abs and legs – that you want to tone. To do the classic forearm plank, get onto forearms with body lifted in straight line. Elbows should be directly under shoulders, and hips in neutral position (not lifted or sagging). All muscles from shoulders to toes should be activated. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.