Elly McGuinness gives us two simple bodyweight exercises to get you set for summer.
The days are warm; the evenings are light, and it’s the time of year when you may be looking to add something to your fitness regime to feel great for summer.
Whether you love playing summer sports, or just want to have more energy, strength and vitality for the season ahead, completing some simple bodyweight exercises on a regular basis can take you closer towards your goals. A few of the benefits of properly executed bodyweight-resistance exercises include improving sports performance, helping to increase muscle tone, and strengthening muscles and bones. The best thing is that these exercises can be done anywhere, with no equipment.
There are a number of progression options for each exercise, and ultimately the level that the exercise is performed at will be relevant to the person. If you have any injuries or are new to exercise, please refer to a qualified physiotherapist or personal trainer before trying these exercises.
Both of the following exercises are ‘super stars’ in terms of the benefits you can receive from them. They are exercises that reflect movements our bodies are naturally designed to do, and they work all the major muscles in the lower body. You may wish to compliment them with some upper-body exercises once you get into the habit of doing them.
Start with feet just outside hip distance and turn them out slightly. Sit back and imagine you are sitting on a chair. You may need to start with a small movement, to maintain your posture, and when you become more advanced, you can work towards getting your thighs parallel to the ground, or even lower. Always ensure you maintain correct postural alignment. From there, push up through the hips to the start position.
The chest stays lifted, heels remain on the floor, and knees are in line with feet throughout – if your knees drop inwards it normally means you need to squeeze your buttocks and/or tighten your abdominals more.
Variations can include narrow squats, wide squats, and one-legged squats.
Start with the feet directly under the hips. Keeping the feet hip distance apart for balance, take a big step forward with one foot and lower into the lunge position. Both feet stay facing forward, and the back heel is lifted. Lower until the back knee is just off the ground (or start with a small movement as needed). Then push off the front leg using the thigh muscles and buttocks so that you are back in the start position.
This type of lunge is called a ‘power lunge’. Other variations include stepping back or to the side into your lunge, instead of forward. You could also perform a ‘static’ lunge, where both feet remain fixed in the lunge position throughout (i.e. there is no stepping into the lunge).
• Warm up for 5 minutes (e.g. by going for a walk or a jog) before completing these exercises
• Keep your abdominals strong and breath continuously
• Start with 10-15 repetitions of each exercise. Repeat for two sets if you are feeling energetic
• Always refer to a qualified exercise professional for advice on technique and to determine an appropriate progression for your individual fitness level.