Gyms being out of bounds at times doesn’t mean your fitness routine becomes a non-starter. A simple, yet effective home workout with zero equipment will have you well on your way to your goals. Besides, it’s a great way to keep your mental and physical health in check during these difficult times.
Here’s your all-in-one guide to a well-rounded home workout, right from warm up to cool down from Fitness Expert, Spoorthi! Read on.
An easy warm-up routine
A pre-workout warm up is non-negotiable. It primes the muscles for the main movements and steadily increases heart rate.
- Stand straight on your mat
- Roll your shoulders up and back, and then to the front, creating a circle
- Continue for 15-30 seconds and reverse the direction of movement
Here's an alternative you can do to shoulder rolls:
- Stand towards the back of your mat
- Take a big step forward with one leg
- Bend both knees and lower down, until both knees are at roughly 90 degrees
- Continue for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side
Jogging Leg Lifts
- Start by jogging in place at a steady, slow pace
- After 30-60 seconds, jog while you lift your knees towards your chest
- Continue this for 30 seconds
- Return to jogging at a slow pace
- Get on all fours, with your palms under your shoulders and knees right under the hips
- Arch the back, with your elbows fully extended and look up - hold for upto 5 seconds. This is the ‘cat’
- Round your back, with your elbows fully extended. Protract the scapula and hold for upto 5 seconds - this is the ‘camel’
- Continue for 30 seconds
Exercises for the upper body
These cover your arms, chest, shoulders and upper back. A strong upper body improves strength and posture while protecting the lower back from strain.
Inchworm to shoulder tap
- Walk your hands out one ‘step’ at a time until you are in a high plank position
- Lift one hand off of the ground at a time and tap the opposite shoulder.
- Walk yourself back up (on your hands) to the starting position - that is one rep
- Stand or get on your knees
- Keep your back flat, lean slightly forward
- Extend arms out behind you, palms facing inwards
- Pulse your arms towards each other
Here's an alternative exercise:
- Get in a high plank position, with your palms flat and at shoulder width
- Lower your body until your chest is almost at the floor
- Stay for a moment and push yourself back up - that is one rep
- This can be done on the knees for beginners
Exercises for the lower body
Strengthening the lower body improves resistance to injuries, boosts endurance and improves quality of life.
- Stand straight with feet shoulder width apart, toes facing slightly outwards.
- Drive your hips back as you bend your knees and press them slightly open
- Sit back in a squat position (as though sitting on a chair) while pressing your heels and toes into the ground, keeping your chest up and shoulders back
- Straighten legs to return to a standing position - that is one rep
Here's an alternative exercise:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, place hands on your hips
- Take a big step out to the left
- Bend your left knee, hinge forward at the hips, and sit your butt back to lower into a lateral lunge
- Keep your chest lifted and core engaged - make sure your knee doesn’t move forward beyond your toes
- Push through your left heel to return to the first position - that is one rep
Exercises for cardio
Cardio workouts boost metabolism, improve Body Mass Index (BMI), and help control cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Stand with your legs together and arms at your sides
- Bend your knees slightly. Jump and spread your legs wider than shoulder-width, lifting your arms overhead
- Jump back in to the center - that is one rep
- Instead of jumping, step out one leg at a time for beginners
- Get into a high plank position and brace your core
- Lift one knee towards your chest and switch quickly, moving that knee out and bringing the other in
- Continue alternating legs
- Get into a high plank position with your feet mat-width apart.
- Hop feet together, then back to the starting position - that is one rep
- Instead of hopping, step feet out and in one at a time for beginners
Here's an alternative exercise:
Exercises for the core
A strong core is the foundation of most exercises - it helps improve posture, increases stability, and even strengthens the spine.
- Sit with your knees bent front of you, heels on the floor and feet flexed
- Raise your hands to your chest and lean back until you feel your core tighten
- Slowly twist your torso from right to left, keeping your core tight - that is one rep
- Add a dumbbell to level up this movement
- Lie on your back with your legs out in front of you, arms by your sides or hands tucked underneath your hips
- Keep legs together and raise slowly, as straight as possible
- Lower legs back down with control, don’t let them touch the floor - keep them hovering a couple of inches above. That is one rep
- Keep your back flat throughout the movement
Here's an alternative exercise:
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent
- Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight
- Stretch your arms out in front of you as you raise your feet off the ground with your legs together
- Extend your legs so they are straight and your body forms a V shape - hold for as long as comfortable
Exercises for your back and posture
Sitting in front of our screens for long periods of time could gradually weaken the back. These movements will improve back strength, which will help protect you from injuries and back pain.
- Lie face-down on your mat and place the hands on the floor next to the ears, elbows bent.
- Engage your core, lift your chest & legs off the ground using your back muscles
- Lower down slowly - that is one rep
- Get on all fours, place your hands directly under your shoulders and place your knees directly under your hips
- Extend your right arm forward and your left leg backward while keeping your back straight
- Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and then lower back to start - that is one rep. Repeat on the other side
- Get on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and fingers spread wide
- Tuck your toes and push your body up, keeping hands and feet firmly pressed to the ground
- Move your chest gently towards your thighs and your heels towards the floor, and hold
Exercises to relax your mind
The pandemic has resulted in increased anxiety and reduced social interaction, leading to higher levels of stress. These movements can help release tension in the body and have a calming effect.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
- Sit on the floor and bring the soles of feet together, with knees apart
- Lean back as much as you can completely with the help of your hands.
- Place your arms in a comfortable position and focus on relaxing the thighs and hips and breathe deeply
- Hold this for 20-30 seconds
Standing Forward Fold
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Straighten your legs out as much as you can without locking your knees and let your torso hang down.
- Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders, and extend the crown of your head toward
- Your hands will either touch the floor or dangle above - stay in this position or hold on to each elbow with the opposite arm
- Bend your knees if you feel pressure in your lower back
Seated/Standing Side Stretch
- Sitting or standing, clasp your hands straight up overhead - palms should face the ceiling
- Stretch up on your toes and then over to the right, feeling a stretch on your left side
- Hold for as long as comfortable and switch to the other side
A post-workout cool down routine helps your muscles recover and brings the heart rate down to normal levels.
- Lie flat on your mat, bend your knees and bring them towards your chest
- Hold the outsides of your feet with your hands
- Roll from side to side, come back to center
Knees to Chest
- Lie down on your back with your legs extended, lift shoulders slightly
- Hug one knee into your chest, hold for a moment, then return to the first position - that is one rep
- Come to a kneeling position on your mat, open up your knees into a ‘V’ shape
- Slowly fold your torso over your thighs, and stretch your arms out in front of you
- Let your forehead rest on the mat - stay as long as needed
Bonus: 30-minute full body circuit
Want to work your entire body without worrying about specific areas? We’ve got you with this 30-minute full body workout regimen.
This consists of 4 sets of 5 exercises each. Perform each movement for 30 seconds, and take a 10 second break after each. Take a 60 second break between each set. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after the workout.
Jumping jacks (as explained under the cardio exercises section)
Mountain Climbers (as explained above under the cardio exercises section)
Push-ups (as explained under the upper body exercises section)
Leg Raises (as explained under the core exercises section)
Lateral Lunges (as explained under the lower body exercises section)
We’re living in the midst of uncertainty, cut off from the things that would usually give us joy - such as going out, meeting friends, traveling, and so on. For many of us, it can be hard to find the motivation to workout even a few times a week. But hear us out - don’t give up. Use this as your guide and start small, in the comfort of your home.
Make yourself a priority, get that heart pumping, and we promise you - you’ll feel much better for it.