OK gang, here’s a circuit that you can do in the home whilst the kiddies are either asleep, in front of ‘the technology’, or trapped in the portacot with all of the toys whilst mummy gives to herself for 30 mins or so.
** Please ensure that you get a clearance from your GP prior to any exercise beyond a stroll if you are injured, coming back from an injury, or have a baby less than 4 months old.
Now, let’s just kill the rumours here and now that you must exercise for a minimum of 1 hour in order to ‘make it effective’. That’s just not true, in fact I’m declaring that if you go hard, and aim for the sweaty beetroot-faced look by the end of the session, then 30 mins is in fact enough time for a decent workout. That said, I’d prefer to time things based on 45 minutes, this allows for a decent 5 minute warm up, some Core work, then a 5 minute stretch at the end.
Ready to rock people?
You will need
A clear space to do your workout, with an even cushioned surface (i.e. try to avoid concrete). Inside or outside is fine, whatever you can use – at least a 5m diameter of free space or more is ideal. We will be making use of what we have though so keep in mind to stay pretty close to steps, stairs, and a bench or chair if possible.
Low bench, sturdy chair or coffee table
2 litre bottle filled with sand or pebbles, we are after making things a little heavy here!
Some sort of timer, there are plenty of exercise timer Apps for the Smartphones which I find very easy to use.
5 minute warmup
Gone are the days of the bending down, touch the toes style of pre-workout stretch. Think of the ‘unwarmed’ muscle as a cold rubber band, pull it as hard as you can – chances are it will snap as it hasn’t had a chance to limber up and get loose. The state of play these days is to perform ‘dynamic movement’ based stretching as a warm up. This means NOT standing there bending over and touching your toes. Start with a light jog – either around the block or on the spot for about 2 mins. For on-the-spot jogging mix it up by changing the pace, and/or lifting the knees high. Do some bodyweight squats. Windmill your arms 10 times one way, and 10 times in the reverse. Make a fist and circle your wrists 10 times one way, and 10 times in the reverse. If you have a low step then do some step ups, stepping up with the right leg leading for 10, repeat for 10 with the left leg leading. You get the idea, keep yourself moving – the aim is to have a light sweat up by the end of the 5 minutes.
The Circuit Workout
I like to program circuit style training based on time, so a set of 5-10 different exercises which are done for a certain duration, with a quick rest in between before moving on to the next exercise. If you have the room it helps to spread the exercises out into a circle. I even go so far as to make myself little signs, with the name of each exercise on bits of paper, so I don’t have to remember all of the exercises during my workout.
It’s important to remember you need to go at your own pace, working within your own fitness levels. Beginners should aim for a 30-45 second station, with a 30 second rest in between each station, Intermediates should aim for a 1 minute station, with a 20-30 second rest, Advanced should aim for a 1.5 to 2 minute station with a 15-20 second rest.
Make sure you space the exercises out so that different body parts are getting used between each workstation. For example don’t put two leg based exercises together. A simple way to remember this is to program a leg based station, followed by a ‘pull’ based station, followed by a ‘push’ based station, followed by a cardio based station. That way ensuring you mix it up, and keep your body guessing without fatiguing muscle groups too quickly.
Here’s a sample circuit, KEEP A STRONG CORE and repeat each exercise for the duration of the time you’ve set yourself for each exercise:
Bodyweight squats - Start with your heels shoulder width apart, toes tracking out slightly. Push your hips back, and lower yourself down until you’re knees are at a 90 degree angle at least, keep your chest high and your knees out, your weight should remain on your heels for the entire exercise! The aim here is to find an invisible chair with your butt. Make sure you squeeze the butt when raising yourself back up to standing, fully clenched butt at the top.
Bench dips – sit on the bench/chair/low wall place your hands on the bench just beside your butt, shoulder width apart, place your feet flat on the ground, knees at a 90 degree angle. Slide your butt off the bench, keeping your butt and back close to the bench, lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle, you should feel a good stretch in the triceps (bingo wing area of your arms). Push yourself back up until your elbows are straight but don’t sit back on the bench, repeat.
Single arm rows – Go into a soft lunge position with the knee of the front leg bent, rest your forearm on this thigh, the back leg is straight, up on your toes. Grab your 2 litre bottle, or a dumbbell if you have one (no heavier than 6kg to start with though) with your free hand and bending forward at the hips pull your shoulder blade back and lift the weight with your elbow tucked in close to your body. Pull the weight up until it is in line with your hip, concentrating on contraction of the shoulder blade, lower back down on the same path, repeat. Swap arms half way through the timed exercise.
Skipping – Grab that rope and skip like a boxer, feet hardly raising up off the ground, elbows down by your sides. Think of this as a wrist controlled exercise, not arms flailing out all over the place. No skipping rope? No problem! Just pretend you have a rope, and perform the exercise anyway. This may challenge some post-natal weak pelvic floors – but practice literally does make perfect in this instance. The more you skip, the stronger you can become in the pelvic floor area.
Alternating lunges - Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and head neutral looking straight ahead. Always engage your core. Step forward with one leg, lower your hips until both knees are at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, and your other knee is almost touching the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position. Repeat using the opposite leg at the front. Once you get good at these you can grab your 2 litre bottle and perform a Bicep Curl at the same time.
Push ups – determine what your upper body strength is like beforehand. Push-ups can be done on your feet, on your knees, or against a wall – depending on your own strength. Place your hands and feet slightly wider than shoulder width, keep your core and quads (thighs) tight lower yourself to the ground (or wall) and raise up. Breathe out on the way up!
Step ups – this simple exercise can be modified according to fitness and co-ordination levels. Start by facing the step, and simply step up using the right leg first, ensuring the entire foot is on the step, and the weight is transferred to your heel, at the top of the step your left foot should just be resting on the edge of the step. Step back down and repeat with your right leg leading. Swap leading legs halfway through the allocated time. This can be turned into a box jump, a running step up or even a high knee step up. Play around once you get comfortable.
Shuttleruns – if you are outside then simply sprint in a straight line for about 10-15 metres, touching the ground when you reach the end, and sprint back. If you don’t have the luxury of space, but have a set of stairs, then sprint up the stairs and jog back down. If you don’t have either, sprint on the spot or slow the pace but lift the knees high.
Simply keep the circuit going until your allocated time is up – like I said earlier, 30-35 minutes is plenty.
I like to incorporate at least 5 minutes at the end of a workout for Ab focused exercises. There are endless ones to choose from such as the basic ab crunch, plank, bicycles, elbow to knees just to name a few. Perform 20 reps of each exercise, and work your way up to a 1 minute plank or longer. Remember to keep a tight belly during all exercises!
Now is the time for those static (non moving) stretches, given you’ve just worked your entire body, it’s important to stretch your entire body!
Give yourself a pat on the back, go have a shower and go about your day with a smile on your face. Who says you need a gym to look like a beetroot?