Can fitness ever really be free?

L&G have conducted a study and found one of the first things people give up when faced with financial difficulty is their gym membership.  Surprising? Not for me. Yes, I now live further away from my gym than when I signed up, but I found that financial stress meant I had less willpower to go to the gym at all – let alone pay for it.

fitness

So, in a bid to continue to save myself money whilst not adding to an expanding waistline, I devised an at home fitness routine, and some pretty tasty smoothies for a quick Yummy Hit.

I tend to work out groups of muscles/parts of my body on separate days, rather than working out my whole body every day. That way, I can focus on areas of my body I want to improve, and don’t devote time to limbs that don’t need any more encouragement (I don’t require extra muscly legs anytime soon, thanks very much!)

Check out my routines below, and keep an eye out for an upcoming blog on healthy eating recipes you can do at home.

Amazing Abs.

Pesky abs, eh? No matter how many sits, countless crunches and planks, these will always be a work in progress. Regardless, I have still seen progress with this really easy to follow program, and it only takes 10 minutes – enjoy! (The idea is to increase the reps of these exercises over time, as your muscles will get used to it. Try starting at 10 reps, as mentioned below, then increase by 5 or 10 reps each week, or as comfortable as you can take it).

Sit ups. Try to secure your feet under a bed, low sofa or in the hands of a trusting companion. Keep your back straight, and keep your knees bent. As you sit up, keep your hands behind your head, but don’t put extra pressure on your neck – you don’t want a serious injury. Sit up till your elbows meet your knees, hold for one second, and return to the first position. Repeat as required.

Crunches. Ah! But what’s the difference between crunches and sit ups I hear you cry! Well, crunches are like half sit ups in the sense that you are tensing your stomach muscles as you sit up, and only arch your back just off the floor – rather than making your elbows reach your knees. Start in the same position as your sit up, but only go through half the stage of the sit up. You should really be able to feel it in your core (stomach and abs). Hold this for a second, and return to laying down. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Plank. Think less pirate, more pain. Well, not pain – but, it can be pretty hard-core the first couple of times you attempt this move. It’s a full body workout for sure, but it definitely works on your core too, so don’t worry about that. Rather than doing the plank in reps, you extend the length of time you hold this position for. Try starting at 15 seconds, and build it up once you get comfortable with it. On a, preferably carpeted or fitness matted floor, get on your front, knees bent, hands on the floor shoulder width apart, directly down from your shoulders. Then move from resting on your knees to extending your legs out, resting on your toes, and placing your forearms beneath you. It’s really important to keep your back straight, with your bum down. I also prefer to keep my head down, as looking straight forward can give you a bad neck – but it’s up to you.

Russian Twists. Initially I called these ‘twisty sit up things’, and was then also upset when I found out a Russian Twist didn’t involve a glass and vodka. Anyway. Back to sit ups, but this time instead of holding your elbows at your knees for one second, you’re going to twist your body slightly to the left, moving from your belly button, twist back to facing forward, and lay back flat on the floor. Second step is to repeat, but twist to the right instead. This will work a different set of muscles, still in your core, but also your waist – helping you to define your curves. Eat, sleep, twist, repeat.

 

Luscious Legs.

As any child of the nineties knows, bums, legs and tums were big business in the big hair, bright colour world of fitness tapes. Now, we have better hairdressers, like to think we have a slightly refined dress sense, but would still like to nail down the leggy, toned look. Fear not, as these 3 easy exercises will help you do just that. No, you’re welcome – really.

Squats. Yes, they don’t exactly sound sexy, but they do work. Trust me on this one. Stand with feet just less than shoulder width apart, arms either out in front of you parallel to the ground (it will help your balance if you’re new at this). Bend at the knees, and stick your bum out – don’t lean forwards. The aim is to focus the movement on your glutes, so don’t be afraid to shake what your momma gave you. Hold for a second, as your legs are at a 90 degree angle and stand back up straight. Repeat it, you know you want to.

Step ups. Again working the same muscles as your squats did, just quicker. Quick stat attack – lifting heavier weights for a few reps builds muscle – lifting lighter weights for several reps creates tone. So, doing a few more step up reps than squats is definitely ideal. You don’t need a fancy gym step for this, just a regular back door/indoor house step for this exercise. Start off slow, with you left foot first stand on the step. Then with your right foot on the step. Simple as that! Now return to your first position, off the step, left foot then right. No biggie! No need to start jumping about or running on the step – build up to that later. For now, just stick to those reps baby. Maybe 20 to start, unless you’re feeling pretty adventurous following your squat endeavour.

Wall sit. The bane of my gym existence. The dreaded wall sit. Just thinking of it makes me shudder. But it doesn’t have to! The initial problem I had is I tried to sit on the wall for too long. My eyes were bigger than my sitting power and I crumbled. Whilst it sounds so preachy, you really need to ‘listen to your body’ (I told you it sounded preachy) – but It’s true. Don’t go all in, thinking you have to attempt 60 seconds straight away, it can be something to build up to. I’ve been practicing my wall sit for a few months now, and I still struggle with 60 seconds, especially after some pretty rigorous squats. Find a wall – easy enough. Stand with your back against said wall, keep your back against the wall and bend your knees until the top part of your leg is parallel to the ground. Hold for 10 seconds to start, but feel free to hold for less or more if you feel comfortable. If you want to add an extra element, try lightly bouncing your knees for a further 10 seconds – not for the fainthearted, but you will see results. Repeat, goddammit!

Competition time!

Want to enter to win £350 worth of fitness equipment to help you work out at home? Enter L&G’s competition here! (T&Cs apply)

So there you have it! 2 sets of exercises you can do at home, save money and get fit in the process! Plus, you don’t need to stick on any fancy gym kit; just stay in your PJs and get stuck in to some sit ups.

Happy exercising!

Alice x

Read my previous blog post here.

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