Our fantastic Sport Lancaster team present: Workout Wednesdays!
As the gyms close and we're in lockdown it can be all to easy to abandon any form of fitness regime and retire to the sofa for the foreseeable future. Yet, with all this extra time, now is the perfect time to ramp up that exercise routine, try something new and get those feel-good endorphins pumping. With this in mind, the students' union sports team brings you Workout Wednesdays!
Each week we'll be sharing a new group of exercises for you to try from the comfort of your very own home.
This week we're kicking things off with 4 upper body strength-building exercises. Let us know how you did over on the Corona Community page!
Need an exercise that strengthens a range of upper shoulder muscles alongside your chest… with no need for any equipment that you cannot find at home? Then dips are one of your best friends.
You will need some “equipment” for these. Given what is available in most households the best options are probably either: between kitchen counters, if your kitchen has them parallel to each other and well-spaced, and if not simply two dining chairs.
Whatever you use, your hands should be able to comfortably able to rest on top of both surfaces without being more than 15-20cm or so outside of your body. If using chairs it is advisable to get something heavy, such as books (or younger siblings!) to weight them down, otherwise your bodyweight could tip the chairs over when getting into the position for the exercise. Once they are stable, place the chairs back to back, and stand between them.
Then hold the top of the back of each chair, and raise your legs, supporting your body weight with your arms. Keep your back straight, and then bend your arms slowly until your biceps are parallel to the ground. Make sure your body is in line, from your head to knees, and try and keep your arms close to your body. Then push upwards until your arms are straight, before lowering yourself again. Then keep repeating. If you want to focus more on your chest then simply lean forward more during the exercise.
MUSCLES WORKED: Arms (triceps, hand extensors), chest (pectoralis majoris), shoulders (deltoids), back (teres).
Well, when I said “upper body” maybe I was slightly lying… tripods do focus a lot on upper shoulder muscles and triceps… but additionally have great benefits to some of the biggest muscle groups in your lower body, and your core. To be honest, outside of your chest and lats it works most of the major muscle groups over your whole body.
For this one you need, well, nothing at all! If you have an exercise mat, or a soft surface, it is advisable that you set-up to do tripods there, as it will be easier on your hands and wrists.
To start this exercise, sit on the floor, then put one hand behind your back, then make sure your feet are at a shoulder’s width apart. Then raise your bum off the floor until your knees are at approximately 45 degree angles to your body, supporting your body weight with one arm and your legs. Then with the arm that is not supporting your body weight, try to touch the hand that is supporting you, rotating your torso slightly. Then switch arms as your free hand comes back across your body. To do a more advanced form of this exercise try to do it at speed, ensuring only one hand is on the floor at a time, effectively “jumping” between hands.
MUSCLES WORKED: Arms (triceps), shoulders (trapezius, deltoids), back (teres, lower back), abdominal (obliques, rectus abdominus), lower body (glutes, hamstrings, calves).
Are press-ups getting too easy, or boring? Well why not spice them up while doing one of the best chest exercises you can do without any equipment, which also works your shoulders more than a standard press-up. Before you attempt this exercise, you should be confident with press-ups, and be able to do 10+ comfortably.
Now for the how… well… for this one you do actually need “some” equipment. Albeit things that every household possesses. Simply put, you need something to raise the level of your feet off the floor. This could be anything from a sturdy box to a chair. The higher your feet are off the floor the more difficult the press-up, and the more the exercise is shifted towards working your shoulders. Off 20-30cm? It will work more chest, off 60cm+? More shoulders. In terms of how to actually do the exercise once your feet are raised it is simple. Hands in the normal press-up position, and use your normal press-ups technique. As a rule of thumb with a decent sized decline expect to be able to do around 2/3 of the amount of press-ups you usually can on a flat surface.
To make this exercise even more well-rounded with one simple piece of equipment? If you have an exercise ball place your feet on that and do press-ups! This will activate your core even more as you have to manage balancing on the ball while also getting through the press-ups. Want to make it even more extreme? Try it with just one leg on the ball.
MUSCLES WORKED: Chest (pectoralis major, serratus anterior), shoulders (deltoids), arms (triceps), abdominal (rectus abdominus).
Not one for the faint hearted! The final step in the press-up ladder once you have taken decline press-ups to the extreme. Arguably one of the most difficult body weight exercise you can do. Before you even attempt this one you should be able to do at least ~30 or more decline press-ups from a decent height, or be able to over-head press close to your own bodyweight in the gym. As close to a complete upper body workout as you can get without equipment.
In terms of how? Find yourself a nice wall with at least 1.5m of clear space in front of it. It is also worth getting a pillow, or something soft, to position under your head. Put your hands around 10cm away from the wall and kick up into a handstand, using the wall to help balance you by leaning slightly against it. Then lower yourself down by bending your elbows until your head brushes against the pillow or soft surface beneath, then push upwards until your arms are straight again. Then rinse and repeat! A word of warning though… if you feel your arms buckle, or a lactic build-up, use your feet to kick off the wall straight away.
This is not an exercise to try and take to exhaustion, and not an exercise to do too many reps on, as it is effectively a bodyweight over-head press. If you can manage 5+ with okay form you will certainly be feeling it the next day!
MUSCLES WORKED: Shoulders (deltoids), back (extensor, trapezius, latissimus dorsi), arms (triceps), chest (pectoralis major and minor), abdominal (rectus abdominus).