Great Exercise Without A Gym

We have written previously about the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT). Most people naturally assume that this type of conditioning requires a gym membership, or at least a significant investment in home equipment. A recent report shows how an expert would perform HIIT at home without anything more complicated than a sturdy chair.

Brett Klika and Chris Jordan work at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida. They published an article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, describing how anyone can get a great workout without spending a lot on facilities or equipment.

HIIT is a great way to get a lot of cardiovascular training packed into a short time period. For most of us, time is our most precious commodity, so HIIT is pretty attractive.  In less than an hour, you can get a thorough work out and get back to your life. Boom! That’s a great way to get and stay in shape.

Klika and Jordan suggest that a great workout can be made up of merely twelve exercises. Each exercise lasts for about 30 seconds, with 10 seconds allotted for transition to the next repetition or the next exercise. That means that a complete circuit of the twelve exercises takes less than 10 minutes. They suggest doing three rotations in total, but you can adjust that to your own fitness level.

The various exercises target some or all of your body. For example, exercise number 1 , jumping jacks, is a total body workout. It’s also a great starter, getting your body warmed up, your lungs engaged and your blood pumping.

Exercise number 2 targets your lower body. It is called the wall sit because you assume a sitting position, but there is no chair under you. Instead, you are bracing your back against the wall. This sounds simple, but a few seconds in this pose will show you that it’s not!

Exercise 3 shifts to the upper body. This is your old-school push-up. Keep your back straight and don’t cheat yourself; go all the way down and all the way back up. We will know if you cut corners.

Exercise 4 hits your core hard: crunches. These dastardly half sit-ups will make you cry uncle quickly, but get that six-pack installed in short order.

Exercise 5 (total body again) is the first exercise to require equipment. You need a sturdy and stable chair that you don’t mind standing on. You use the seat of the chair as a step-up platform. Alternate legs and try to keep stepping for 30 seconds.

Number 6 (lower body) is a favorite: the squat. Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart, then bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground. If you want to look cool, extend your arms in front of you. This also keeps you from falling over as fatigue sets in.

Exercise 7 (upper body) gets the chair involved again. It is called a triceps dip. Stand facing away from the chair, with your hands on either side of the seat and your legs straight. Keep your body straight, so you are dividing your weight between your feet and your arms. Now bend your arms, lowering yourself to the edge of the seat, and then straighten again. Sounds easy, but just wait until you try it.

Exercise 8 (core) is the plank. Just lay on the floor, body straight, with your torso resting on your forearms. That should put your body a foot or so off the floor. Now hold that pose for 30 seconds. Yes, a mere half minute.

Exercise 9 (total body) is running in place, but with a high leg raise for every stride. This will really get your cardio moving.

Exercise 10 (lower body) is the lunge. Stand with your feet together, then take a step forward with one foot while keeping your other foot fixed. Go forward enough that your back leg nearly touches the ground. Repeat with the other leg. Again. Again.

Exercise 11 (upper body) is a bit flashy, but you can do this with a little practice. You start out in a standard push-up position. Lower yourself as normal but when you push up, rotate your body so that one arm goes straight up. This will take quite a good push-off. Best of luck.

The final exercise (core) is side plank. As the name suggests, this is done by laying on the floor, on your side. Support your body with your foot and your forearm, keeping your body straight for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. My, my, can you feel the burn?

So after less than 10 minutes you have used and abused nearly every major muscle group, plus your cardiovascular system is completely angry with you. And all you needed was a chair. If you have 20-30 minutes, you can have a great workout!

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