Five Ways to Exercise at Home

28/04/2016 15:39 | Updated 03 May 2016

If the gym's not your thing and the weather outside is rubbish, it's no excuse for giving up and crashing out on the couch.

Here are five exercises you can rely on to get in shape that are easy to do at home. These exercises can help you tone up and burn calories. They will also help you feel and look fitter, as well as stronger, balanced and more energetic. Ten minutes is a good starting point, but if that is difficult, try just one exercise. You can increase the length of the routine as you get fitter.

To keep you motivated...
Plenty of studies show that playing the right sort of music can boost your workout. Try Spotify's The Ultimate Workout Playlist' - designed by sports psychologists from London's Music in Exercise and Sport Group to help you get the best from your workout.

Here goes...

1. Squat
Target areas: abdominals, hips, thighs
Equipment: hand weights or kitchen cans (optional)

Stand with feet apart. Place a ball between your hands. Gently draw in abdominals and slowly squat down, bringing knees to approx 80 degree bend. Then slowly stand. Repeat three sets of 10.

To make it harder
a) Hold weights in your hands. You don't need to have fancy weights - a tin from the cupboard weighing approximately 500 g can act as a small weight. You can increase the weight you carry as you get fitter, or use a back pack on your back with books in it to increase resistance.
b) Lift one leg a little off the ground and try and do this on 1 leg only.

2. Stationary Lunge
Target areas: abdominals, hips, thighs
Equipment: hand weights or kitchen cans (optional)

Step one foot in front of the other. Front foot flat on the ground, back foot up on your toe. Gently bend knees, then straighten. Bend your knee up to 90 degrees, but no further. The front knee should not go past the front toe: keep it centred over your foot.
Do for 30 seconds with one leg leading, then 30 seconds with opposite leg leading. Do this cycle as many times as you wish and according to your fitness level.

To make it harder
a) Hold weights in your hands.
b) Do the exercise slowly, pushing through the front heel more. This makes hip muscles work harder.
c) Try a 'stepping lunge'. Walk lunge forward, lunging with one leg then moving straight into a lunge with the opposite leg rather than returning to the starting position. Move forward for 30 seconds, then turn around and return to the start position. Now repeat.

3. Diagonal sit ups
Target areas: abdominals, trunk
Equipment: none

Lie on your back, knees bent, with one leg crossed on the other. Place hands on the side of your head. Lift the upper body and turn body to one side, then return to the midline. It is important to keep the neck straight and avoid bending the head forward. This targets the waist, giving you definition through the midriff. Start with between 10 and 20 repetitions each side.

To make it harder
a) Do the exercise slowly
b) Keep upper body off ground in between sit ups

4. Plank
Target areas: abdominals, trunk
Equipment: none

Place the elbows on the ground, directly underneath the shoulders. Rise up onto your toes so that your body stays straight and parallel to the ground. If you find it too difficult to raise yourself on your toes, try supporting yourself on bent knees instead. Gently draw in the abdominals. Clasp your hands together. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat five times.

To make it harder
a) Increase the length of time you hold the exercise for - up to 30 seconds is good, but make sure you don't lose your form
b) Keep hands clasped and lift hands off ground, coming up higher on your elbows

5. Arm toning
Target areas: shoulders, arms, postural muscles
Equipment: hand weights or kitchen cans

Stand tall. Place small weights in your hand, between 250 and 750 grams to start with. You can use tins from the cupboard to substitute if you don't have weights. Place elbows at 90 degrees and bend the arm up, then take it back to 90 degrees. Repeat three sets of 10 each arm. Be mindful of keeping an upright posture to get the most out of this exercise.

To make it harder
a) Put arms straight out in front of you level with your shoulders, palms with weights facing up. Bend elbow fully, then return to the starting position
b) Increase weight or do more quickly.

Phew, you're done...
Congratulations, you've given your body a home workout. These exercises can help get you feeling stronger and are a good base from which to build towards other fitness goals. Alongside eating well and leading a healthy lifestyle, they help you burn calories and achieve a healthy weight. Do this routine at least two or three times a week and you'll soon see and feel the difference - not just in your fitness levels, but in terms of looking more toned and shapely. There are many more free hints and tips on fitness, health and weight loss at