For all the exercises suggested below, please be careful to be as safe as possible. Remember that training should not be painful. If you do suffer from any pain, you’ve probably pushed your movement too far or you’ve moved in the wrong way. Take a minute to get back into your initial position and start again slowly. We don’t all have the same physical abilities (or the same furniture) so keep in mind that everything has to feel right for you.
Using the different parts of your home and furnitures
If you’re lucky enough to have stairs in your house (or maybe a staircase in your apartment building), they can become a great tool to work on your cardio. We don’t necessarily realize it in our day to day life, but if you walk up and down those stairs throughout the day, you will be stimulating your heart, your lungs and your legs.
You can use your stairs as a step. Simply put, step up and down on your first step as you normally would on a step. Keep up your tempo and repeat the movement 10 times on each leg, for a series of 4. If you want to increase your heart rate, why not get your arms moving too.
You could also go up and down your staircase a few times. Here are some training ideas to keep it interesting and fun:
Go up the stairs as fast as possible, keeping your knees high and make sure you don’t miss a step! Use your arms to balance yourself and keep your elbows high. Use the part going back down the stairs to recover.
Repeat this for 3 sets of 5 minutes each (the number of round trips will depend on the length of your staircase).
Step onto each step one foot after another. Once both feet are on the step, squat down. Repeat this until you get to the top of the staircase. Try to keep a steady pace throughout. When you’re doing a squat, make sure you’re pushing out from the back of your feet, into your glutes and keep your knees outwards. Your abs and back muscles should be active throughout the whole exercise.
Repeat this for 3 sets of 5 minutes each. You’ll not only work on your breathing but also your thigh muscles.
The Dining room and The Bathroom
Against a wall
Whether you’re brushing your teeth, watching television, or waiting for your turn in the bathroom, walls can be a great tool to keep you busy while strengthening your muscles.
Exercise 1 - The Invisible Chair
This exercise will focus on your quads.
Set your back against the wall, bend your legs until your knees are at a 90 degree angle (your hips should be at the same height as your knees, and your knees should be aligned above your ankles). Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat it 3 to 5 times.
Don’t forget to breathe. Keep your back straight and your core engaged throughout the exercise.
Exercise 2 - Standing Push-ups
As for regular push-ups, your pecs will be working out during this exercise.
Facing the wall, stretch your arms out. Place your hands at the same height as your shoulders, a little further apart than the width of your shoulders, fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Take a step back so your body is at a slight angle.
Inhale, bend your arms as much as you can without losing control. Exhale while pushing back to return to your initial position. Repeat this movement 20 times, during 3 to 5 sets (take breaks in between each set).
With a chair
Find a chair (without wheels) and place it in an area where you have a bit of space around it.
Exercise 1- Core exercises
The first exercise you can do is a core stability exercise. Face the chair with both hands on the seat and get into a plank position. Hold it for 30 seconds. Repeat this 3 times.
Having a chair to do planks makes it easier than doing them directly on the floor.
For the second exercise, you need to start by sitting on the chair. Grab the sides of the chair seat with your hands. Bend your knees (your feet should no longer be touching the floor). Exhale while you bring your knees towards your chest. Bring your knees back into the initial position. Repeat this movement 10 times for 3 sets.
Make sure you do the move slowly in order not to hurt your back.
For the third exercise, take a seat on the chair, put your feet on the ground and relax your body. Take a deep breath in while expanding your stomach. Exhale and pull your stomach in, as if your belly button was being sucked in towards your back. Then hold your breath for as long as possible, while contracting your abs. Repeat this 5 times.
Exercise 2 - Glute exercises
Lie down on your back with both feet on the chair. Your legs should be straight and your arms should be on the ground on either side of your body. Then bring your pelvis up. Your back will naturally come up, but the feet should stay on the chair. Once your body is aligned in the air and (arms stay on the floor), hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat this 3 to 5 times.
You can also adapt this movement into a more dynamic exercise by raising and lowering your pelvis 30 times. Again, repeat this 3 to 5 times.
Facing your sink
You can easily improve your balance while brushing your teeth. Stand on the right foot and bring the left one up off the floor. Hold it for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Then switch legs. There you go, you’ve just brushed your teeth for the recommended time of 3 minutes, all while strengthening your balance and ankles.
Stretching in the Living room
Against a wall
Lie on your back and put your buttocks against the wall, with your legs stretched in the air against the wall. How close your legs and buttocks are to the wall, will depend on how flexible you are. Once you’re in position, flex your toes towards you, stretch out your arms behind your head and breathe in and out deeply. Stay in this position for at least 1 minute. It will help you stretch your glutes and your back.
Stand up. Grab your right ankle with your right hand. Pull your heel back towards your glutes. Be careful not to arch your back. You should feel a stretch in your quads. Breathe slowly and hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other side. If you need to, stand close to a wall and use it to stabilize yourself with your free hand.
Place both your hands against the wall as if you were trying to push it back. Flex your left leg and straighten your right leg. Your right foot and heel should be flat on the floor. You should feel a stretch in your calf. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
With your sofa, coffee table, or a chair
Find a place (could be the arm of your sofa, a chair…) where you can put your leg up. The back of your foot should be lying on the chosen surface. Stretch that elevated leg and feel it in your hamstrings. Hold it for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Sit down on your sofa or in a chair with a straight back, both knees bent and your feet on the floor. Put your right ankle on your left knee. Slowly try lengthening your lower back. You should start feeling a stretch in your right glute. Stay in this position for 30 seconds and then try it on the other side.
This should help release any tension you have in your lower back as well.
Again, sit down with your back straight, knees bent and feet on the ground. Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee and twist your upper body. With your right hand, grab the back of the chair you’re sitting on. Inhale and then on the exhale, try to relax your shoulders and twist even further. Keep this position for 3 breaths and then repeat it on the other side.
Using objects from your daily life
Look around yourself. You can probably see books, cushions, scarves, water bottles, milk jugs. All of these can become fitness accessories or weights.
Strengthen your muscles with water bottles
We say water bottles, but it could be milk jugs or even wine bottles (be careful not to drop them!). Whatever you chose, they’re now your new dumbbells.
Strengthen your arms
Exercise 1 - Biceps
Hold a bottle in each hand, arms extended alongside your body, palms facing in front of you. Curl up your arm towards your shoulder and bring it back down. You can either curl both arms at the same time, or one after the other.
These are classic bicep curls. Make sure your body is straight and your muscles are tight; and your elbows stay straight. Do 3 sets of 20 reps on each arm.
Exercise 2- Triceps
With the bottles in your hands, place your arms slightly bent and behind you. Then extend both arms towards the ceiling, as far as you can, and come back to the starting position. You should feel your muscles at the back of your arms (your triceps). Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
Strengthen your shoulders
Grab a bottle in each hand. Stand up straight with your arms stretched along your body. Your feet should be at the same width as your hips.
Raise your arms to the side, palms facing down. Bring your arms up until they’re at the same height as your shoulders and parallel to the floor. Bring your arms back down along your body. Repeat this movement 20 times for 3 sets.
You can do the same exercise by bringing your arms up in front of you instead of up on either side.
Strengthen your back
Stand up and take the bottles in your hands. Your feet should be the same width apart as your hips. Stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms facing inwards, facing each other. Recreate a pull movement, bringing your hands towards your chest by bending your arms. Your elbows should remain close to your chest. You should feel the contraction of your back muscles, especially between your shoulder blades. Inhale while you pull your arms close to your chest, and exhale as you get back into your initial position. Repeat this movement 20 times for 3 sets.
Stretch with a Scarf or Belt
If you’re not very flexible, it can be difficult to hold certain stretching positions. The scarf or belt will help you hold and stretch deeper muscles.
Stretch the back of your legs: your hamstrings and calves
Lie on your back. Bring your right leg towards you and place the scarf behind the sole of your foot (as a strap) and then stretch the leg out towards the ceiling. Hold it for 30 seconds at least.
Then repeat the movement with your left leg.
Each time you exhale, you should be able to stretch your leg a bit further.
Stretch the front of your thighs: your quads
Lie on your belly. Bend your right leg and place the belt behind your ankle. Pull on your leg and try to bring your heel as close as possible to your glutes. Hold this position for 30 seconds and do the same on the left leg.
Be careful to keep your pelvis on the ground and not to pivot upwards or outwards.
Staying at home does not mean being inactive, quite the opposite! Even if you don’t have all the fitness equipment available, you can easily repurpose rooms of your home, furniture or simple objects to help you train and recover.