“If I want to have a cookie, I’ll have a cookie.” —Laurie Hernandez Photo: Getty Images, BFA
It’s never been easy for women to deal with ever-mutating standards of female beauty. But in the golden age of social media, where anonymous troll armies roam the internet, body-shaming people on whim, dealing with these standards has reached a whole new level of crazy — and nobody understands the pressures more than those who live in the public eye.
Everyone from Olympic athletes to first daughters has been put through the wringer. In March, President Obama even commented on the issue, telling Time, “I mean when you’re a dad of two daughters you notice more … the enormous pressure that young women are placed under in terms of looking a certain way. And being cute in a certain way. And are you wearing the right clothes? And is your hair done the right way … it’s part and parcel of a broader way in which we socialize and press women to constantly doubt themselves or define themselves in terms of a certain appearance.”
But in the face of constant judgment, many celebrities choose to embrace positivity. Below, famous ladies like Tracee Ellis Ross, Hari Nef, and Serena Williams get real about body image.
Tracee Ellis Ross
“On Girlfriends I kept complaining to the costumer, saying, ‘The cleaners are shrinking all my clothes.’ Finally she said, ‘I know that’s what you keep saying, but I want to be clear with you: Your body has changed, and we need to buy you bigger clothes.’ It took me out for a minute. In the context of our world, sizes 8 and 10 are teeny, but not for Hollywood. I had to ask myself, ‘Do I want to be somebody who worries about what I’m eating? Or do I want to find a balance where I can be healthy and not consumed by that and maybe have to buy some larger pants?’ I bought new pants.” —Glamour, September 2015
“I do have body-image problems, for sure, but I don’t let them ruin my life at all. And there’s bigger issues going on in the world than how I might feel about myself and stuff like that. There’s only one of you, so why would you want to look like everyone else? Why would you want to have the same hairstyle as everybody else and have the same opinions as everybody else?” —SiriusXM Town Hall, November 2015
“I have sort of a Zen body philosophy, I’m sort of like: We’re one weight one day, we’re one weight another day, and some days our body just doesn’t even exist at all! It’s just a vessel I’ve been given to move through this life. I think about my body as a tool to do the stuff I need to do, but not the be all and end all of my existence. Which sounds like I spent a week at a meditation retreat, but it’s genuinely how I feel … I think, if I can do anything, as cliche as it sounds, to aid in the comfort of a woman accepting her form, then I want to do that. I think every girl that’s a little curvy can tell you it doesn’t stop you from having sex, it doesn’t stop you from doing anything, unless you decide you should hide in a shame pit because you don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel.” —Gothamist, January 2014
“In all of my modeling work, I just have to meditate on it. Like, really ask myself in the most objective way possible, ‘Why should I feel ashamed about my body?’ If I feel this body is different, unbeautiful, grotesque — if I feel that, can I really justify it to myself? I just kind of replay that confrontation in my head, over and over again when I’m standing in front of these people in a beige leotard and black hot pants. It’s like, here’s my body, what are you going to do about it? … I just try to manifest an acceptance and love of my body by accepting and loving it, and it works a lot … I still try to manifest normalcy and casualness, even if I feel super insecure inside … I have to manufacture this confidence a lot, but it helps me through … If I had a secret ingredient to my recipe, it’s not, ‘Fake it ‘til you make it,’ it’s, ‘Fake it ‘til it’s true.’” —Teen Vogue, February 2016
“Showing that I can execute and do all of these things — that it’s possible to have any skin complexion, to have a healthy body image — for the ballerina body, I think it’s given me more of a voice. And I think it’s forcing a lot of these top tier companies to address the lack of diversity and diversifying the bodies that we’re seeing in classical ballet. It’s really forcing that conversation to be had.” —Time, March 2016
“I was raised in the ‘50s. I was taught by my father that how I looked was all that mattered, frankly. He was a good man, and I was mad for him, but he sent messages to me that fathers should not send: Unless you look perfect, you’re not going to be loved … I wasn’t very happy from, I would say, puberty to 50? It took me a long time.” —Harper’s Bazaar, August 2011
“I grew up in a very naked world. I’m a very naked person. I just don’t think it’s a big deal …When people want me to talk about whether I think the bush is back, and if that’s great for feminism, I’m like, ‘You know what’s great for feminism? Respecting everybody’s own choice’ … I don’t give a shit if people want to wax everything off. If it makes you feel comfortable, by all means, do that. This is how I feel comfortable.” —The Telegraph, May 2016
“You see women all over magazines and Instagram, and they all have these flat tummies and you’re like, ‘Wow that’s great’! I don’t think I’m exactly flat — I have a big build, and I love it. It shows that I’m strong and that I’m able to wake up and eat healthy. But if I want to have a cookie, I’ll have a cookie, and it’s OK. But I do love the way I look. I love my build, and I love that I’m strong. It’s important to love yourself because no one can really do that for you.” —Shape, August 2016
“For young women, I would say, don’t worry so much about your weight. Girls spend way too much time thinking about that, and there are better things. For young men, and women, too, what makes you different or weird, that’s your strength. Everyone tries to look a cookie-cutter kind of way, and actually the people who look different are the ones who get picked up. I used to hate my nose. Now, I don’t.” —Time, April 2014
“Years ago, at the beginning of my transition, I would walk down the street and I would hear people yell, ‘That’s a man,’ and I would be devastated. It took me years to internalize that someone could look at me and tell that I am transgender. That is not only OK, that is beautiful. Trans is beautiful. All the things that make me uniquely and beautifully trans, my big hands, my big feet, my wide shoulders, my deep voice, are beautiful.” —The Daily Front Row’s Fashion Media Awards, September 2015
“I was young … Somebody told me I was fat, that I was going to get fired if I didn’t lose a certain amount of weight. They brought in pictures of me where I was basically naked, and told me to use them as motivation for my diet … They thought that because of the way my career had gone, it wouldn’t still hurt me. That somehow, after I won an Oscar, I’m above it all. ‘You really still care about that?’ Yeah. I was a little girl. I was hurt. It doesn’t matter what accolades you get. I know it’ll never happen to me again. If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet,’ I’m like, ‘You can go fuck yourself.’” —Harper’s Bazaar UK, November 2013
“We are fixated on our own image, utterly deluded about our own bodies, about the whole realm of the physical. It’s perfectly normal to open a magazine and hear from an eighty-five-pound woman that starvation is her personal choice, from a woman about to undergo breast augmentation that major unnecessary invasive surgery is a dream come true, or from a prostitute that she loves her job, that she wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world. It’s a pretty extraordinary situation. And these are just the cosmetic struggles — there are women all over the world who live like medieval slaves. So — how to lighten up this answer — well, I guess the really interesting and difficult thing about writing women characters is that you have to deal with the idea of people who lie about themselves constantly and lie to themselves constantly and are maybe so deeply invested in that lie that there really isn’t anything resembling truth left. So that’s tricky. Also, there’s some bleak humor in the gap between women’s ideas of themselves and the reality of their actions.” —Penguin
“To some I’m too curvy. To others I’m too tall, too busty, too loud, and, now, too small — too much, but at the same time not enough. When I post a photo from a ‘good angle,’ I receive criticism for looking smaller and selling out. When I post photos showing my cellulite, stretch marks, and rolls, I’m accused of promoting obesity. The cycle of body-shaming needs to end …What type of example are we setting for young girls and their self-esteem if grown adults are on Instagram calling other women ‘cowards’ for losing weight, or ‘ugly’ for being overweight? … I refuse to let others dictate how I live my life and what my body should look like for their own comfort. And neither should you … My body is MY body. I’ll call the shots.” —Lenny Letter, August 2016
“I was very opinionated when I was young about women, and what was attractive in a woman. To me, it was your model look: The wide shoulders, no hips, and long, long legs. And, you could wear anything, right? … By the time I was 50, when I adopted , I’d already seen that we come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s really pretty spectacular. The curvaceous female form, which I used to consider contentious — now I just can’t believe how gorgeous it is. So, women come in all sizes and shapes, and I’m into all of it. Every bit of it, and I really mean that.” —Refinery29, May 2015
“Getting back into competitive shape after having my baby wasn’t easy, and I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. My post-baby body makes me feel both beautiful and strong. Sometimes I’m out running with my dog and my son in the jogging stroller, and I get double and triple takes as I run by with my prosthetic leg. Once someone yelled out the window that I was a ‘badass mom,’ and it stuck with me. The biggest compliment is when someone says I look like an athlete and that I look strong. To me, strong is beautiful.” —Shape, August 2016
“Pretty much everyone I know, no matter what size, is trying some system. Even when someone gets to looking like she should be so proud of herself, instead she’s like, ‘I could be another three pounds less; I could be a little taller and have bigger lips.’ Where does it end? … You just have to say, It’s pretty damn good. I am right here at the moment, and I’m OK with it. I’ve got other things to think about.” —Good Housekeeping, November 2012
“I get so worried about girls with body image stuff. And I feel like I have been able to have a fun career and be an on-camera talent and be someone who has boyfriends and love interests and wears nice clothes and those kinds of things without having to be an emaciated stick. And it is possible to do it. In life, you don’t have to be that way and you can have a great life, a fun life, and a fulfilling love life.” —Teen Vogue, February 2014
“Early on, my family really made me love who I was and what I looked like. My body was nothing out of the ordinary in my neighborhood … When I first started on television, people, and even my own manager at the time, would tell me I had to make all of these changes. But you have to stand up and say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me or my shape or who I am, you’re the one with the problem!’ And when you can really believe that, all of a sudden other people start believing too.” —Cosmopolitan for Latinas, Winter 2013
“We all focus on our bodies in our late teens and our early 20s, in a way that is just not cool or healthy. In your 30s, you become aware of staying fit. Now I view my physical self as an instrument that I have to keep going because I’m a mother, and I have to be as healthy as I can for those three people who need me — more than I need for myself to be in a fucking nude scene.” —The Wall Street Journal, September 2015
“Part of me is feeling extremely old now, and part of me is feeling extremely young. Because I look at these pictures and realize I worried about things that I shouldn’t have been worrying about. Like the fact that I had little marionette lines around my mouth when I was 29, and I was complaining about them. I wouldn’t go out to the beach without a sarong from my neck to my ankles. Now I see a picture of myself from that era in a bikini and I’m like, ‘You looked great. And you missed out on a lot of fun vacations, because you were so sure that you were fat … spend more time in a bikini! All the little girls in their 20s, they’re terrified of looking like they’re not 16. And I’m like, ‘Oh, just get ready for what’s to come.’” —Billboard, September 2014
“Most of us have these versions of ourselves that terrify us. We have these imperfect bodies we don’t quite know how to cope with. We have these shames we keep to ourselves because to show ourselves as we are, no more and no less, would be too much. In my closet, in the closet containing the clothes that shroud my cowardice, I have 40 or 50 pairs of dark jeans, an absurd number of black t-shirts, and six or seven nice dress shirts. These are the clothes I feel safe in. This is the armor I wear to face the world, and I assure you, armor is needed. I tell myself this armor is all I need. I tell the worst lies to myself. I suspect most of us do.” —GOOD, November 2015
“I guess my mom raised me right. She was very celebratory of her body. I never heard her once say, ‘I feel fat.’ Back when I was modeling, the first time I went to Italy I was having cappuccinos every day, and I gained 15 pounds. And I felt gorgeous! I would take my clothes off in front of the mirror and be like, ‘Oh, I look like a woman.’ And I felt beautiful, and I never tried to lose it, ‘cause I loved it.” —Health, July 2010
“Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.” —the Rumpus, February 2011
“I love my body, and I would never change anything about it. I’m not asking you to like my body. I’m just asking you to let me be me. Because I’m going to influence a girl who does look like me, and I want her to feel good about herself.” —Self, September 2016
“I swear to God, if anyone calls me fat one more time in my life, I’m going to kill them.” —the New York Times, October 2015
Losing weight is great, but what about feeling more defined and having strong muscles? Getting toned and strong is one of the main goals for many of my private weight loss clients.
Focusing on toning and strengthening muscles is a great fitness goal because there are so many muscle groups that you can target.
This five-day workout routine will focus on the upper body, arms and core so you can get in an efficient workout with fast results. It will have you feeling accomplished in no time!
The following routine is for day one, then you can repeat it on day three and day five.
On days two and four, 20 minutes of cardio would be a great addition to your routine. Though you don’t have to do it for this plan, cardio days can expedite your results because the heart-pumping exercises help with calorie burn and fat loss — both of which will make you feel stronger and more toned!
- The Workout Routine:
- The Science Behind Body Fat
- Getting Rid of Subcutaneous Fat
- Why Explosive Exercises Work
- Here Are Some Explosive Exercises: Perform at a High Velocity with Weight at 3-4 Sets of 5-8 Reps
- Here Are Some Strength Exercises: Use a Challenging Weight (70-90% of 1RM) with 4-5 Sets of 3-8 Reps
- Dumbbell standing shoulder press
- Dumbbell squat
- Farmer’s walk
- Lateral raise
- Dumbbell calf raise
- Bicep curl
- Dumbbell step-up
- Side plank
- Dumbbell floor press
- Bench dips
- Lower back curl
- Calf raises
- Shadow boxing
- 10 Best Exercises To Do At Home For Men
- Get fit in 2020: further studies
- Better be safe than sorry
- Our top tips to get in shape in no time
- Best exercises for (complete) beginners
- 1. Wall push-up
- 2. Side lunge
- 3. Squat/squat hold
- 4. Seated resistance band rows
- 5. Walking
The Workout Routine:
1. Flat Bench Barbell Press
This upper body exercise works the chest and shoulders. The standard flat bench barbell press requires a barbell and one of my private weight loss clients calls this a very intimidating exercise! You may have seen people at the gym with with someone spotting their presses.
Step It Up with Steph
Modification: Instead of doing it with a barbell, you can simply hold onto dumbbells to do this exercise. I recommend starting with 5 pounds and then working your way up to 10 pounds.
Hold onto the dumbbells and sit down onto a flat bench. Slowly lower down onto your back and keep your feet on the floor. Pull your abs in as you bring the weights up to a 90 degree angle at your chest. Exhale as you press the weights up to the center of your chest (make sure you don’t go too far and bring them over your face; keep them over your chest!) Then inhale as you lower the weights back down to the starting position.
You can start off with three or four sets and eight repetitions. After a couple of weeks, you can build up to 10 repetitions or increase the weight or sets!
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One of the most well-known workout moves is a push-up. There are many modifications if you’re looking for a less intense version of this. But, for a visual, start in a plank position. Make sure your back is flat and your abs are pulled in. Bend the elbows out to the sides and then exhale as you press back up to plank.
Step It Up with Steph
Modification: As a personal trainer for women, one of my favorite modifications of this is on hands and knees. Simply walk the knees back a few inches behind the hips and then lower down into the push-up.
Step It Up with Steph
You can also do an even less intense push-up against the wall. Place your hands chest-high on the wall. Walk the feet back — the further you walk back, the more challenging this will be. Bend the elbows out to the sides and lower your chest towards the wall. Then, exhale as you press the hands into the wall and press yourself back up to the starting position.
Step It Up with Steph
You can start off trying to do just 10 repetitions in your workout. Build up to two sets, three sets, and ultimately four sets of 10 repetitions in your workout!
3. Cable Crossovers
This is a fantastic exercise to start with on the cable machine. Lift or lower the cable to chest height, and then hook the handles onto each side. Start the weight at about 5 pounds on each side. Hold onto the handles and face away from the cable machine. The handles will be at shoulder height, and then you can step one foot forward and one foot back. Hinge slightly forward at your waist and exhale as you pull the handles towards the center of your body at your belly button. Inhale as you release the cables back to their starting position.
Step It Up with Steph
Modification: If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you can do this same motion with dumbbells!
Hold 3 or 5 pound dumbbells, one in each hand. Hold them up to the sides at shoulder height. Keep the arms straight as you press the arms and weights together at the center of your chest. Then, bring them back to the starting position.
Step It Up with Steph
Start off with three sets of 10 repetitions, and then you can work up to doing three sets of 15 repetitions.
4. Incline Dumbbell Flyes
This exercise is similar to the above exercise, except you’ll be using the workout bench again! Grab a pair of 5 pound dumbbells. Raise the bench up to about a 45 degree angle. Then sit on the bench and hold onto the weights over your chest. Open them out to the sides and exhale as you press them up towards the center.
Step It Up with Steph
Modification: Repeat the modification for the above exercise! It is working very similar muscles.
Start off with three sets of 10 repetitions. Then work your way up to three sets of 12 reps, and then four sets of 10 reps!
5. Barbell Biceps Curls
This exercise usually requires a barbell, but, again you can easily get similar results by simply using dumbbells.
Step It Up with Steph
Modification: Grab a pair of 5 pound dumbbells. To mimic a bicep curl with a barbell, hug your elbows in tightly to your sides and keep the grip on your dumbbells nice and firm. Curl the weights up towards your shoulders as you exhale and then inhale to lower the weights down to the starting position. Feel the contraction through the bicep during the entire exercise.
Perform three sets of 10 reps, and then work your way up to three sets of 15 reps.
6. Alternate Arm Hammer Curls
Similar to the above modification, you’ll use 5 pound weights to perform this exercise. But instead of the palms facing up, you’ll face the palms towards your body. Hold your upper arm stationary as you bring your right weight up to your right shoulder, then release down. Bring the left weight up to your left shoulder, then release it down. Alternate arms to perform this exercise and exhale as you bring the weight up.
Step It Up with Steph
Start off with three sets of 10 repetitions. Work up towards 12 reps and then 15 reps per arm.
Stephanie Mansour is a health & fitness expert and weight-loss coach for women. Join her complimentary health and weight-loss challenge here!
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This article is part of the “Body Toning Series,” which comprises of 5 articles. Read part 1, part 2, part 4, and part 5 for more information.
As a fitness professional, I hear “I want to tone” as one of the most common answers when assessing a prospective or current client’s goals. Other synonyms I’ve heard for this goal are to “cut”, “trim up”, “chisel” or “get lean”. In most cases, the client would like to tone specific areas of their body. It is important to know that if you want to look toned, you first must have a low body fat percentage. Maintaining a low body fat percentage (a big part of which is dietary) will allow you to achieve greater overall muscle definition (a.k.a. getting “toned”). You may think it’s just for those on the covers of fitness magazines or professional athletes, but I’m here to tell you that you can DEFINITELY achieve it for yourself! Later, we’ll talk about some toning exercises for women, but for starters, let’s get the facts straight on fat:
The Science Behind Body Fat
Burning fat can be tougher for women than it is for men. The reason for this is because the major hormone in a woman’s body, estrogen, negatively effects lipolysis (1). Let me explain: the cells in our bodies contain fat along with both beta and alpha receptors. Beta receptors speed the process of fat release into your blood stream, where the fat can then be burned as energy. In contrast, alpha receptors slow the process of fat release. In order to stimulate the fat burning process, we must trigger the beta receptors via our fat releasing hormones: catecholamines. The major fat releasing catecholamines are dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline; these increase during exercise. These hormones bind to the beta receptor, releasing the fat held inside the cell. The issue for women is that estrogen increases the influence of alpha receptors, which (as previously mentioned) attenuates the process of fat burning (1).
Your genetics also play a big role in body fat distribution (2). Some people are genetically predisposed to accumulate adipose tissue in disproportionately specific areas, such as the glutes, midsection, under arms and inner thighs. This kind of fat storage is known as subcutaneous fat. In fact, our bodies store three kinds of fat: subcutaneous fat, visceral fat and Intramuscular fat. Each has a different structure, but for the purpose of this article we will focus on subcutaneous fat.
Getting Rid of Subcutaneous Fat
Why is subcutaneous fat so difficult to lose? As opposed to visceral fat, subcutaneous fat is significantly less effective at burning free fatty acids and is less metabolically active (3). Another reason is that subcutaneous fat has a higher density of alpha receptors, slowing the release of fat from that specific area (3).
This information could give the impression that “spot reduction” should be your go-to method. In fact, spot reduction is a method of training a specific body part or region that you want to burn fat from. For example, you might want to lose belly fat, so you only workout your abs. This is where we run into a problem. Although this methodology can be an effective part of your training program, it is important that you have first achieved what is considered a normal body fat percentage for your age and gender. You must first reduce your overall adipose tissue in order to uncover the lean muscle tissue underneath. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, healthy or “normal” body fat percentage for women is as follows: ages 20 – 39, 21 – 32.9%; ages 40 – 59, 23 – 33.9%; ages 60 – 79, 24 – 35.9% (4). The lower your number is within that range, the better chances you have that spot reduction will be effective for your problem areas.
Why Explosive Exercises Work
With all of this in mind, you should burn fat and tone your body as rapidly as possible. One of the most effective ways to get toned is by performing explosive exercises. This method of training will help you recruit a high level of muscle fibers during your workout, which will stimulate a higher metabolism. This style of exercise can also increase your level of growth hormone (HGH). HGH is responsible for increasing muscle tissue that will fight off the storage and production of adipose tissue. One study found that this kind of training over a period of time can increase growth hormone release by almost 45% (5); it should be noted, however, that the time span required for this increase has not yet been determined.
Another reason to perform explosive exercises is because it will improve your insulin sensitivity. As opposed to insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes, insulin sensitivity is a good thing. The more insulin sensitive you are, the less likely your body is to convert blood glucose into stored fat. Your body stores glucose in three places: the liver, your muscles or as fat. This method of training not only increases your muscles’ ability to store glucose (6) but also uses glucose as its primary source of energy, meaning there will be less of it to convert into stored fat. You can also add in high density strength training (say 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps each) at submaximal intensity, as this too utilizes glucose as its main energy source.
Here Are Some Explosive Exercises: Perform at a High Velocity with Weight at 3-4 Sets of 5-8 Reps
- Stand with your feet wider than should-width apart. Taking a kettlebell in both hands, lean down from your hips to place it on the ground a short distance in front of your body. Be sure to push your chest out and straighten your back.
- Keeping your back straight, lift the kettlebell off the ground and swing it gently back between your legs. Then from this position, thrust your hips forward and fully extend your body to press the kettlebell out in front of your body.
- Raise the kettlebell to shoulder height. Once there, lower the kettlebell back down between your legs so it’s ready to thrust forward again.
- Your arms should remain extended throughout these movements. Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
- To complete this exercise, just take the momentum out of the downwards swing until the kettlebell stops in its bottom position. Then lower it down to the floor.
- Stand in an athletic position, with your feet shoulder-width apart, at a comfortable distance from the box.
- Push through the floor (jump) to propel yourself onto the box.
- Land “softly”, allowing your knees to bend after your feet make contact with the surface (this should be relatively quiet).
- Pause and momentarily hold this position at the top of the jump to decrease injury risk.
- Carefully step off the box backwards and repeat for recommended number of repetitions.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart while facing a wall and holding a medicine ball at your chest. Hold your shoulders back and your chest up high. Stand three to five feet from the wall. This will be your starting position.
- Descend into a squat by pushing your hips and butt backwards. Continue down until your upper legs are at or just below a parallel angle to the floor. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.
- Push through your heels to ascend. As you begin to push upwards, eject the medicine ball up and towards the wall by fully extending the arms. Aim to throw the ball to a height of 10 to 12 feet.
- Catch the ball and return to the starting position. Immediately begin the next repetition.
- Repeat for recommended number of repetitions.
- Start by standing up into a fully extended position with your chest up and shoulders held back and down.
- Quickly move your hands down to the floor and jump your legs back to a fully extended position while lowering your body into to the lowest position of a press up.
- Bounce your legs forward while pushing up with your arms and then jump up fast and high.
- Keep your head in a neutral position throughout this sequence of movements and don’t allow your hips to drop below the point where your body is straight from ankles to head.
- Repeat for recommended number of repetitions.
And don’t forget regular strength training! These exercises are often slower and involve maximal or close-to-maximal strength, but the improved strength will help you even more with explosive exercises as well as rapidly improve your overall physique.
Here Are Some Strength Exercises: Use a Challenging Weight (70-90% of 1RM) with 4-5 Sets of 3-8 Reps
- Stand with your feet parallel at a comfortable distance apart and your weight evenly distributed between both legs.
- To add resistance, take a dumbbell in each hand and hold them up by your shoulders at the front of your body.
- Keeping your chest up, bend at your knees and then hips to lower your butt down towards the ground behind you.
- Go as low as you can while maintaining control – ideally your hips should go below your knees. Keeping your heels planted on the ground, push back up into the start position.
- Repeat for recommended number of repetitions.
Sumo Stance Deadlift
- Stand with your feet wide and toes facing outwards at approximately 45 degrees. Your weight should be evenly distributed between both legs.
- Keeping your chest up, bend at your knees and then yours hips to lower your butt down towards the ground behind you. Once you’ve done this, take hold of the dumbbells at roughly shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your heels planted on the ground, push back up fast to a standing position and lift the dumbbells towards your hips.
- Keep your hips, knees and chest fully extended at the top position.
- Controlling the dumbbells, slowly reverse the movement to the start position.
- Rest the dumbbells on the ground for a few seconds before repeating for your total reps.
- Grab a dumbbell in each hand and hold them shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the dumbbells just above your shoulders while keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Bend your knees and lower your body into a quarter-squat position.
- Press the weight over your head as you push through your feet to explosively stand tall.
- Pause and slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
- Grip a dumbbell in each hand. Bend at your hips and stick your butt back by making your torso nearly parallel with the floor.
- Make sure your back is straight and your core is tight.
- Bend your knees and keep your hips back while you slowly lower the dumbbells closer to the ground, keeping your arms close to your sides.
- Explode back up to your bent-over starting position as you pull the dumbbells back up, leading with your elbows slightly behind your torso.
- Squeeze your shoulder blade muscles together horizontally (not shrugging them up toward your ears).
- Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
In conclusion, by performing a mix of explosive exercises and strength training, your body will be a glucose burning machine, where you can store glucose in ways that help you reach your aesthetic goals. This is especially important if your goal is to reach an optimal body fat percentage where you can ultimately show off your beautifully toned muscles! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of my favorite compound workouts for better results; keep in mind that the idea of resistance training making women “big and bulky” is a myth. And finally, it is true that burning fat can be more challenging for women due to the effects of estrogen. However, implementing explosive exercises and strength exercises into your workout routine will help you to maintain muscle and burn fat efficiently – keeping you in shape for years to come!
Here are a few hand-picked articles for you to read next:
- 7 Best Arm Workouts for Women (At Home Alternatives Included)
- 10 Minute Full Body Workout for Women
- How to Lose Weight While Still Drinking Alcohol
- 8 Highly Effective Ab Workouts Using Just Your Body Weight
- How to Get a Bigger Butt with 7 Simple Exercises
- Pedersen, et al. Estrogen controls lipolysis by up-regulating alpha2A-adrenergic receptors directly in human adipose tissue through the estrogen receptor alpha. Implications for the female fat distribution. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. April 2004;89(4):1869-1878.
- Genetic determinants of regional fat distribution. Claude Bouchard. Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Quebec, G1K 7P4, Canada
- Ibrahim, et al. Subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue: structural and functional differences. Obesity Reviews. January 2010;11(1):11-18.
- Gallagher et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 72, September 2000.
- Craig, B W, et al. “Effects of Progressive Resistance Training on Growth Hormone and Testosterone Levels in Young and Elderly Subjects.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 1989.
- Way, Kimberley L., et al. “The Effect of Regular Exercise on Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Diabetes & Metabolism Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, 2016, p. 253., doi:10.4093/dmj.2016.40.4.253.
Exercising at home is, hopefully, something you’ve been thinking about while sat on the sofa, pawing at your doughy middle.
Of course, you could clear away the coffee table to create space. Sure you could get up 15 minutes earlier and squeeze in some exercise at home before work. Absolutely you could stock your new home gym with some muscle building essentials. But then what? With MH’s help, taking your first steps towards fitness needn’t be daunting.
Below is our collection of the best beginner’s exercise at home, coupled with an explanation of what makes that move useful. Have a read and use the exercises to create a bespoke workout that fits your nascent training goals without leaving the house. Enjoy.
How to do it: Get down into a press-up position with your hands placed shoulder-width apart and back flat, so a straight line forms from your head to heels, via your glutes. Lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms. That’s on rep.
Why: This move uses multiple muscle groups for maximum growth and strengthens your shoulder joints. Easily done as an exercise at home, this prepares you for progression to the more demanding shoulder exercises you’ll face in a gym, like the incline bench press.
Dumbbell standing shoulder press
How to do it: Stand holding two dumbbells at shoulder height with an overhand grip – palms facing forwards. Ensure your elbows are in front of the bar and don’t flare out to the sides. Press the weights up above your head until your arms are fully extended. Return slowly to the start position.
Why: This is a safer shoulder-sculptor than lifting from behind your neck. As a beginner the aim should be to keep strain off your joints and protect against an injury called shoulder impingement syndrome. Missed sessions this early in your lifting career are especially costly.
How to do it: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, position your legs shoulder width apart. Keeping your head up and back straight, sit back into the squat until the dumbbells are an inch from the floor. Focus on keeping your knees over your toes and chest out – don’t arch your back or lean forward as you drop down. Exhale, straighten your legs and return to the starting position.
Why: Squats are an excellent all-round exercise and one of the best moves for building overall strength. Dumbbells let you concentrate on technique and work on your range of movement at low weight. Only advance to barbell squats in the gym once you’ve got this nailed.
How to do it: Grab a heavy dumbbell in each hand – think half your bodyweight – and hold them at your sides. Stand up tall with your shoulders back and walk forward as quickly as you can using short steps.
Why: Super simple with no need to worry about technique, this move hits your shoulder stabilisers, upper traps and front deltoids. It also supercharges your grip strength, which will transfer strength to your other lifts too.
How to do it: Stand holding a light dumbbell in each hand. Slowly lift the dumbbells out to the side until they reach shoulder height – no higher – and resist the urge to cheat by swinging the weight. Pause, then lower back to your sides, slowly – you’ll build more muscle fighting gravity than letting it do the work for you.
Why: If you’re doing exercise at home, this is the best move for visible shoulder development. The lateral raise isolates your medial deltoid, the middle of three shoulder muscles, helping to develop your shoulder width and mass. Perfect for creating the V-shape that you covet.
Dumbbell calf raise
How to do it: Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with the balls of your feet on a step with your heels touching the floor. Raise your heels off the floor and hold at the top of the contraction. Slowly lower yourself to the starting position and repeat.
Why: Too many beginners are prone to skipping calves when it comes to leg day. Some guys are even getting surgery to fix it. Work this move into your workout to guarantee you’re hitting as many leg muscles as you would in the gym when it comes to exercise at home.
How to: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand and, keeping your upper arms stationary, curl the weights until the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Focus on keeping your elbows still – only your lower arm should move. Squeeze your bicep at the top of the contraction then lower slowly and repeat.
Why: This is the perfect move for developing those mirror muscles you crave. By keeping your upper arm stationary you hit the whole bicep for maximum growth.
How to do it: Stand in front of bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Place your right foot onto the bench, push up through your heel to lift your whole body up. Step down with your left foot and repeat on the opposite side.
Why: By activating all of your upper leg muscles (glutes, quads and hamstrings) it’s an entire leg day in one move. Plus, it’s low-impact, which is means you avoid the knee injuries associated with more explosive exercises.
How to do it: Get in a press-up position, but rest on your forearms rather than your hands. Make sure your back is straight and tense your abs and glutes. Hold without allowing your hips to sag.
Why: Endless crunches put pressure on your spine and, when done incorrectly, can give you a set of weird, distended abs. Planks are perfect for working your core in a way that keeps you injury-free and builds the flat six-pack you’re after.
How to do it: Lie on your back with hands above you and feet up so your knees are at 90 degrees. Straighten your leg until your heel is an inch from the floor and then return to the start position. Repeat with the other leg.
Why: By extending your legs and hovering your heels you work on your core stabilisers, not just your abs. That means you’re building muscle you can use on the sports field, not just see in the mirror.
How to do it: Lie on your left side with your legs straight and prop yourself onto your elbow. Brace your core and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line. Hold this position while breathing deeply. Roll over and repeat on the other side.
Why: Excellent for targeting a small muscle in your lower back, the quadratus lumborum. Strengthening it is crucial for spine health and will help you avoid the notorious beginner’s back pain. Diamond-cut obliques are a bonus.
Dumbbell floor press
How to do it: Lie down on the floor with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend at the elbows and hold the weights above you. Press up and straighten your arms before pausing at the top of the rep and lowering slowly to the start position.
Why: By restricting your range of movement this moves helps you build a bigger chest, minus the risk of shoulder injury from over extension. Consider this your stepping stone to being a bench bro in the gym.
How to do it: Stand facing away from a bench, grab it with both hands at shoulder-width. Extend your legs out in front of you. Slowly lower your body by flexing at the elbows until your arm at forearm create a 90 degree angle. Using your triceps lift yourself back to the starting position.
Why: This is easy to do on a chair, stair or coffee table. It works the arms, chest and shoulders and is great if you want people to notice that you’ve started working out as it builds triceps effectively.
How to do it: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands on either side of your head. Push your lower back into the floor as you lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor – make sure your lower back stays in contact with the ground at all times. Tense your abs hard at the top point of the movement, then return under control to the start position.
Why: The first port of call for any abs workout this is a must-do. By lifting your legs you place extra weight on the stomach muscles and reduce the momentum that could make this easier.
Lower back curl
How to do it: Lie down flat with your arms by your sides. Slowly raise your chest upwards, with your arms down. Keep your head up during the move. Once you’ve reached the furthest point up, lower yourself back down.
Why: People often forget the importance of back workouts, but they’re vital to develop all other muscle groups. This curl is great as it works the whole back and also alleviates back pain from days at the desk.
How to do it: Stand upright holding the barbell, two dumbbells by your sides, or unweighted. With your toes pointing forwards, raise your heels off the floor and contract your calves. Slowly return to the starting position.
Why: Isolating the calves for a workout can benefit overall leg definition. It also helps hamstring and glute stength. Different foot positions target different muscles. Toes pointing in hits the outer head harder, toes out works the inner head.
How to do it: Adopt a fighting stance and bounce on your toes as you shadow box. Dip and weave to your heart’s content.
Why: This can help consolidate the rest of your workout as it benefits cardio strength, legs, core and arms. Jog on the spot between low- and high-intensity punching for a HIIT style cardio workout.
6 min read
Regular exercises offer countless benefits. It boosts your immune system, improves your bone health and lowers health risks like heart problem, diabetes and many more life threatening diseases. With the growing family responsibilities and demanding jobs, exercise takes a backseat in the priorities list. Most of us give brilliant excuses for not exercising regularly. Being too busy is the most common excuse one makes. But, with proper planning you can take some time out of your hectic schedule for your future own well-being. There is no doubt that regular exercise is the best path to live fit and healthy life. To begin with exercises, you don’t really need to hit the gym! You start at home! It may seem little confusing at the beginning to start the exercise without an instructor. Begin with short session of easy-to-do exercises. Here are 10 easy-to-do beginners’ exercises that every man can do at home. Basically these exercises need too little or no equipment. You can use your body weight itself as an equipment.
10 Best Exercises To Do At Home For Men
1. Jumping Jacks
This exercise targets the whole body. Jumping jacks are the best cardio exercises. There are various benefits of including it in your everyday exercise program. It makes your heart stronger, builds muscles stronger, helps in weight loss, builds stronger bones and uplift your mood instantly and helps relieve stress. It makes you stronger, flexible by improving your stability and stamina.
How to do: Stand straight with your feet together and hands on your sides. Jump along with raising your arms above your head and bring your feet apart. Reverse the movement immediately and come back to the original position. Start doing it faster.
It’s the best exercise for rock hard abs. A simple exercise for beginners for stronger abs and to strengthen your shoulder, arms and back. It can be done in many variations.
How to do: get into pushup position with elbows bent in 90 degree keeping your body weight on your forearms. Ensure your body forms a straight line from your head to feet. Hold on to the position as long as you can.
3. Cross Crunches
It’s more effective and easy exercise for abs and the oblique muscles. It strengthens the core and strengthens your abdominal muscles.
How to do: Lie flat on your back. Bend your knees with feet flat on the floor. Place both the hands loosely behind your head. Now, bring your right shoulder and elbow across your body and at the same time bring up your left knee towards your left shoulder. Try to touch your knee with elbow. Go back to the original position and repeat the same with the left elbow.
4. Side Plank
It strengthens oblique and helps your build stronger abs.
How to do: Start on your side with feet together while keeping forearm below your shoulder. Now slowly raise your hip until your body form straight line from head to feet. Hold on to the position and repeat on the other side too!
It helps you get in better shape when included in daily workout plan. Strengthens lower body muscles for men. It can be done in many variations.
How to do: Start with the hips back with back straight, chest and shoulders up. Bend your knees and squat down keeping them in line with your feet. Start with 25 squats a day and then increase.
A very good work out on the core that helps you strengthen your lower body and mobility in your hips.
How to do: Lower your hip until both keens bent in 90 degree angle. Step forward with one leg while keeping your upper body straight and relaxed. Come back to original position keeping the weight in your heels.
Basically, push-ups are effective exercise for strengthening chest and arm muscles.
How to do: Get down on the ground setting your hands shoulder-width apart. Ensure your body forms a straight line. Begin to lower your body keeping elbows close to your body. Push back to starting high plank position.
8. Russian twist
It’s an effective workout for whole abdomen. It improves body balance and helps you keep in shape.
How to do: Sit with your torso leaning back at about 45 degree, knees bent, feet elevated a bit as if it should look like imaginary v shape between upper body and thighs.
9. High Knees
It helps you work on inner thighs and outer hip areas. It’s good belly fat burning exercise too!
How to do: stand straight with feet hip-width apart. Raise your right knee as high as possible while raise your left arm. Reverse the move. Continue pulling knees up quickly.
10. Dead Bugs
A great exercise for abdominal wall that improves your body flexibility and balance along with strengthening muscles.
How to do: lie on your back keeping your legs and arms extended towards ceiling. Extend your right arm behind your head while lowering your left leg. Come back to original position and repeat it with switching sides.
Pro Tip: Before you startup, don’t forget to warm up for at least 5 minutes! It’s important to properly warm up before exercising to prevent any injuries. Loosen up your muscles and joints of every part. Jog for a minute or march on to get your heart pumping. Stretch yourself and then start with the daily exercise!
Remember, health is wealth. It’s never too late to start! Make a work out plan. Be determined, take out some time from your busy day and start these simple exercises at home. Eat healthy, shed some calories and stay happy and healthy!
First of all: well done you! You’ve made the right decision by trying to get fit in 2020, whether it’s because you are concerned about your overall health or it’s a new year’s resolution based on five weeks of over-eating while sat in front of the TV or in a succession of bars and house parties. Either way, we would like to offer you the best exercises for beginners below, the ones that are best suited for people who haven’t done much exercising before and/or recovering from an illness, for example.
If you are trying to start exercising to lose weight fast, doing more exercise is only half the battle, but it is very important nevertheless. Exercising regularly can improve your cardio-vascular system (your heart and lungs) and kick-start your metabolism. Having a faster metabolism means you can burn off fat quicker, and you will feel fresher over time.
You won’t need excessive amounts of equipment to start exercising regularly; in fact none of the below exercises for beginners require any fitness equipment.
We recommend only three pieces of gear: a decent running watch, a resistance band and if you would like to maximise comfort during exercising, a yoga mat.
A running watch can help you better understand heart rate zones since many of them has real-time heart rate tracking feature, making it easier to keep your heart rate in the fat burning and cardio-training zones. Resistance bands are extremely cheap, simple and easily stored and can be used for numerous workouts. And working out on a good mat is just common sense. Hard floors will hurt you, and your deep pile carpets won’t really benefit from you sweating all over them.
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Better be safe than sorry
If you are even slightly concerned about anything related to your new exercise regime, please consult a medical professional – and not an Instagram celebrity – before you begin.
If you have any concerns at all about your overall wellbeing or starting to exercise, please speak to your doctor or a medical professional before you start your new exercise regime.
This is especially true for people who are trying to build up some strength after being ill for elongated periods of time. As much as we tried to collect the best exercises for complete beginners, if you had a knee-surgery, for example, than any exercise putting pressure on your knees is out of the question.
Always be safe and sensible and mindful about your body, before, during and after your workouts, too.
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A healthy diet is essential if you want to be healthier and slimmer sooner
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Our top tips to get in shape in no time
Start with a good diet
Unfortunately, there is no way around having a healthy diet, either if you want to lose or maybe gain weight. Before you make any major changes in your diet, it’s best to start logging your food intake to see what food items contain too much fat or sugar, with free apps like MyFitnessPal it’s very easy to do so. Once you have a good idea, you can start swapping bad foodstuff for more healthy ones.
Another obvious thing to do if you want to kickstart your metabolism is to drink plenty of…water. Not fizzy drinks, not coffee/tea, water. Having enough water in your system will help your cells to regenerate quicker, toxins to be emptied out of your system more efficiently, and just in general, for you to be more healthy.
The worst thing you can do is to introduce five days of exercising in your life and cut back on your calorie intake by swapping pizza dinners out for leaf salads. That will put a tremendous amount of stress on your body and will curb your enthusiasm very soon. Start off by adding a couple of days of light exercising and introduce more healthy food in your diet.
You can swap calories for calories, too. So, instead of having five Jaffa cakes (~250 kcal), you can have 50 grams of rice with two falafels, which is roughly the same amount of calories. By doing this, you will naturally eat less because you will feel fuller for longer.
Consider a class
Humans being social animals, we enjoy being in company more than being alone. Working out home is convenient, but by going to a class, you mentally separate a place of relaxation (home) from the place of exercising (wherever the class is).
Attending an exercise class is also a great way to keep yourself motivated on the long run. You want to build a habit a start a healthier lifestyle, not lose weight in a week. By being more mindful about your diet and your exercising, you will shed excess fat pretty soon anyway.
Just be persistent
Remember: it is all in your head. You want to transform your life and for that, you will need to form new habits that will stick around. It might sound like a big overtaking to be healthy but it really is not. Changes will take place gradually and you by the time you’ll notice the change in lifestyle, you will already have established them firmly.
It will take only a couple of weeks to start seeing weight loss results but it might take up to 12 weeks to see the effects of muscle growth. By the time you’ll see the results, you will already be making good progress and more likely to stick to your new lifetsyle.
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Best exercises for (complete) beginners
Drink a big glass of water around half an hour before you exercise and have another another one in arms reach as you do the exercises. Stretching before and after exercising a bit is also beneficial, get a foam roller or a massage tool and relax your tense muscles.
Try not to eat an hour before the exercising takes place and have a protein shake or a protein snack after you finished exercising. This will help muscle regeneration and will keep you full, too.
You can go as vertical as it feels comfortable
(Image credit: Getty Images)
1. Wall push-up
Muscles worked: pecs (chest muscles), arms (mainly triceps), delts (mainly the front shoulders)
Wall push-ups are excellent alternatives to regular push-ups and put less stress on your joints and muscles. As you get more comfortable with the exercise (and your muscles get stronger) you can gradually go into more of a horizontal position, as it is pictured above.
To perform a wall push-up, stand completely upright, arm-length distance from the wall, legs shoulder width apart. Place your palms on the wall then slowly bend your elbows so your head gets closer to the wall. Go forward as much as it feels comfortable, then push yourself back to the starting position. Be careful not to lose balance as you extend your arms.
One things to be mindful about as you do wall push-ups is to keep your back straight. Treat wall push-ups like regular push-ups and don’t let your hip sag, either forward or backwards.
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Side lunge will stretch your legs as well as strengthen your bum
(Image credit: Future)
2. Side lunge
Muscles worked: glutes (bum muscle), quads (thighs), hamstrings (the back of the thighs)
Side lunges are great because as in the case of wall push-ups, you can adjust it to your skill level by making the steps bigger or smaller. Regardless how far to the side you can step, side lunges will stretch your hamstrings and strengthen your glutes, too.
As you progress with the exercise, you can consider holding smaller weights, like a small dumbbell or a kettlebell, to increase resistance. This will also make you use your arm muscles more as well as your core.
To perform a side lunge, stand with your legs roughly shoulder width apart, body fully upright, with your hands in front of your body – just like on the picture above, but without holding a weight.
When ready, step to the side as far as it feels comfortable, then bend the knee of your supporting leg slightly. Don’t try to overdo it and go all the way down when you are in the side step position. Especially if you haven’t exercised much before, you might find it difficult to push yourself back up from a deep squat position.
After the squat, extend your leg again and step back to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
- Best leg workouts: this leg exercise will build bigger, more toned legs. Do NOT neglect leg day!
Squats are probably the best way to strengthen your whole lower body
(Image credit: Future)
3. Squat/squat hold
Muscles worked: glutes (the biggest muscle in your body), quads (thighs), abs/core
Squats are amazing exercises because they work the whole entirety of lower body. And your lower body needs all the love it can get, if for no other reason, because it houses the biggest muscle on your body, the gluteus maximum, the muscles responsible for keeping your body upright as you stand.
To perform a squat is pretty straightforward and we won’t go into much detail here. There are a couple of things you need to careful with, though, like keeping your back straight all the way through the movement. In order to be able to do just that, you will need to stick your bum out in the lowermost position, to keep your centre of gravity above your feet, and it can also help if you extended your arms in front of you.
As with side lunges, make sure you don’t go too deep with the squat, you don’t want to put too much pressure on your knees. For added muscle activation, you can try squat holds, where you stop and hold the halfway point in the squat for a couple of seconds. This will help tremendously, even without any extra weights, to add resistance to your training.
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Seated rows can be performed sitting on the floor, using nothing but resistance bands
(Image credit: Future)
4. Seated resistance band rows
Muscles worked: lats (large muscles on the side of your back), biceps, forearms
Lay down your yoga mat and sit down on it on the floor. Grab the resistance band and hook it around your feet, then extend your legs in front of you. Be very careful with the resistance band and for the best results, wear a pair of workout shoes for added traction.
Keep your feet vertical so the band won’t slide off your feet, hitting you in the face. Pull the band backwards and not upward. As you pull the band, concentrate on your back muscles, as much as you can.
As you let the resistance band go forward, don’t let your body lean forward too much. You are trying to work your lats and biceps here, no need to rock back and forth as you row. You will lean slightly forward and backward nevertheless, but try to keep the rocking motion to the minimum, to avoid lower back pain.
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Start with walking and gradually work your way up to jogging then running
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Walking is one of the best way to introduce exercise in your life. Walking with a brisk pace – not strolling but not power walking either – can bring your heart rate up and therefore burn calories effectively. Let’s say you weigh 220 pounds (100 kilos), by walking 5 miles, you can burn more than 600 calories! How great is that?
Even better, you don’t even have to go out of your way to start walking, you only need to swap some of your car sessions to walking sessions instead. So, you can walk to the city centre to do a little window shopping and then walk back home, and burn calories. No need for any special gear either. Wins all around.
Of course, you can get a nice pair of walking shoes if you would like to treat yourself, but it’s not essential.
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It’s the eternal question: How can I get fit fast? We present to you… the lazy girl’s guide to getting fit.
Because exercise sounds great and all, but when it comes to actually having to do it, that’s another story. Most of the time, if you’re lazy, you can’t be arsed. And there’s always an excuse. It’s either too cold to run outside, too hot to run outside, too windy to run outside, or you can’t afford a gym membership.
That just about covers all seasons.
When you’re just starting off your pursuit to being fit, your stamina doesn’t tend to be tip top. It takes some getting there. So here’s how to get yourself fitter, without it feeling like the most painful thing in the world.
1. Stick to 10s
Try to do just 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups every day, even if they aren’t consecutive. Because something is better than nothing, and after a while, when you feel yourself finding the sets of 10 too easy, you can up it at your own pace.
2. Stand up at least every hour
We’ve all read the reports about how sitting all day is bad for you, being hunched over a keyboard and not even getting out for lunch because we’re too busy. But enough is enough! Make a conscious effort to get up at least once an hour – go to the toilet, make a round of tea, or even just go and say hello to a colleague. Better still, buy an Apple Watch and it’ll buzz at you every time it hits ten to the hour if it hasn’t detected you standing up at all.
3. Walk for at least 20 minutes a day
Whether it’s the bleak mid-winter or not, there are no excuses to get public transport literally everywhere you go. Use the legs you were given and get moving; even just 20 minutes a day will be an improvement for your health. It’s easy to fit it into your daily schedule, and won’t have you gasping for breath. Jump on the bandwagon started by charity Living Streets, which is encouraging people to #Try20 by walking for just 20 minutes per day for a month to see how much difference it makes to both health and happiness. This is the perfect excuse to get a dog, really.
You could walk, or you could STRUT Giphy
4. Don’t even leave the house
Yup, you read that right; you don’t even need to leave your house, or even the sofa, to get a solid workout in. There are many accessible exercises and home workouts you can do from your living room, that won’t require you to make the commute to the gym. Do some tricep dips and some lunges, and work those abs – all from the comfort of your own home. Check out some more ideas here:
5. Use Tabata
If you only have five minutes, download the Tabata timer app for a super speedy work out. Guiding you for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off makes for a great high-intensity workout that has both fitness and weight-loss benefits. Run for 20 seconds and then walk for 10, or skip for 20 and lay down for 10. You can do burpees, mountain climbers or even the plank (if you’re brave enough), Tabata training will raise your metabolism and heart rate immediately and you should start seeing the benefits in no time.
6. Switch off
It’s not all about exercise – our daily lives have a real impact on our health and wellbeing. Getting enough sleep is crucial to being fit, and the 4628482 devices you own which distract you on the daily aren’t helping. So power down all the technology you’ve got coming out your ears at least an hour before going to sleep, and you should find you start to have a better rest.
7. Don’t worry about how long your work out lasts
The quality of your workout doesn’t depend on how long it is, which is quite frankly music to our ears. Any exercise is great and the most important thing when first starting out is to just get moving in the first place. Don’t try and climb a mountain before you can even walk, if you know what we mean. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t do a full hour, or if you couldn’t run for as long as you wanted (ahem, only managed to run round the block once). The fact is, you’re doing something, and that’s what that matters.
8. Run for just one song
Instead of being too ambitious and then feeling awful when it doesn’t all come together, tell yourself to run just the length of one song. Make it a good one and you won’t even notice when the 3.5 minutes are over. So basically, download Ariana Grande’s album and you’ll find yourself volunteering for the marathon no problem.
9. Spend time in bed
Let’s face it; some forms of exercise can be fun and sex is one of them. Research conducted by scientists from the University of Quebec in Canada found that sexual activity can be just as effective at burning energy as moderate intensity exercises. GREAT stuff. Women can burn up 90 calories during a sex session, which is just under half the amount you would burn in a 30-minute jog. We know which one we’d rather pick…
10. Work out during the adverts
Lazy people like to watch TV. So why not combine this with exercise, and time your mini-work outs to be just as long as the ads. Unless you’re watching Netflix, of course, where there are no adverts. If you do a five minute circuit of lunges, burpees, jogging, skipping and squats during the ads, then you can reward yourself by lounging on the sofa and finding out if Britain really does have talent. Leave the Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer, though, if you want to make any kind of difference.
Related Story Catriona Harvey-Jenner Digital Features Editor Cat is Cosmopolitan UK’s features editor covering women’s issues, health and current affairs.