There’s only one key to an effective exercise program: simply doing it … consistently! Everything else is really peripheral. The choice for many of us is whether to join a gym or to exercise at home. (But, really, it doesn’t have to be either/or. You can do both!) Most of us today are pressed for time, with a hundred different competing duties and obligations pulling us in different directions. So for a lot of us, it’s just easier (and cheaper) to exercise at home than it is set aside time to drive to the gym across town.
At home, you can exercise when it’s convenient, whenever you can snatch an extra fifteen minutes. And besides, it may actually be more beneficial to exercise in brief intense bouts, rather than grinding away at the gym for an hour and a half. Here’s what you need to know about exercising at home to lose weight.
Do what matters most first
If you’ve elected to exercise at home, your chief motivation is most likely to save time. If that’s the case, you should always try to do the most important things first. And those most important things are the exercises that use the biggest muscles in your body — your legs.
If your goal is to lose weight, working those big muscles will do a lot more than, say, calf raises or shoulder exercises. You will burn more calories while exercising, and your metabolic rate will be elevated — and will stay that way for hours after your exercise session is over.
Working your legs, especially with squats, will also promote the release of testosterone in your system. Certainly, this is a bonus for men, but women need testosterone, too. And women who have been leading a sedentary life are usually low on testosterone. It’s the right balance of hormones that is key.
A missed workout is NOT a failure
Consistency in any exercise program is important. But things happen in life: kids get sick, cars break down, you have to work late. So you may miss an exercise session or workout from time to time. The trick is not to get discouraged, and just pick it back up the next time. The only failure in exercising is quitting completely. In fact, a missed workout can be a good thing because your body may need the rest. Almost nothing can stall your progress quicker than exercising too much or too often for too long.
Exercises to do at home
People often assume that intense cardio is the best exercise for weight loss. And while cardio is great for your heart health, when it comes to weight loss, you’re better off focusing on strength training. Why? Strength training builds muscle, and more muscle means a faster metabolism. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, even at rest — which means your workout will continue to deliver calorie-burning benefits long after you’ve finished exercising.
Let’s take a look at a few of the exercises you can do at home to achieve your weight-loss goals and get a stronger, healthier body. We will concentrate on legs for the metabolic benefits, the midsection (core) for back and spinal health, and upper body for functional strength and aesthetics.
Often called the king of exercises, squats work your quadriceps (the big muscles on the front of your legs), hamstrings (on the back of your legs), and glutes (butt) — all of the biggest muscles in your body.
Begin with feet about shoulder width apart, and then initiate the movement by sitting back while bending your knees. Keep going down till the tops of your thighs are parallel with the floor. Then return to a standing position and repeat. Extending your arms in front of you will help you maintain balance. Also, try to keep you shins near perpendicular (at least without letting your knees go forward past your toes) while looking straight ahead and keeping your back arched and chest out. Keep your core engaged to avoid injuring your back
Start with three sets of ten repetitions. As they get easier, you can add weight to increase resistance (hold a five-pound dumbbell in front of your chest), or do jump squats: From your squat position, jump into the air and then lower back into your squat.
Walking lunges are another great leg exercise, but it does take a little practice to learn how to keep your balance. Again, begin with feet about shoulder width apart and arms at your sides. Step forward with your right foot and lower the knee of your left leg towards the floor, keeping your right shin perpendicular and your right knee bent at a 90% angle. Then push back up, bring your feet back to the shoulder-width starting position, and repeat the process by stepping forward with your left foot.
Start with three sets of ten lunges on each leg. As they get easier, try adding weight: hold a five-pound dumbbell in each hand.
Done correctly, sit ups can be the best ab exercise around — and strong abs support and protect your back. Lie flat on your back, with your knees slightly bent and your feet hooked under a heavy object like a couch. Cross your arms over your chest, tuck your chin, and then curl your chest up toward your knees. The key here is to curl up so that you use only your abdominal muscles and not your lower back. With a little practice, you can feel the difference.
This is also a great exercise because it works not only your abs, but your hip flexors as well. And strong hip flexors, especially the psoas muscle, are critical for good posture and hip and back health.
Again, lie flat on your back with only a very slight bend in your knees. Then raise your legs as high as you can, making sure to initiate the movement with your abdominal muscles, not your lower back. Lower your legs and repeat. In time, as you get stronger and more flexible, you’ll be able to raise your legs up and over and bring your ankles nearly to your forehead.
If you could do only one upper-body exercise ever, it would have to be push ups, because you get so much upper-body bang for your exercise buck. Push-ups work your pectoral muscles (chest), front delts (shoulders), triceps, and even your forearms a little — and it’s not hard to learn proper form.
Begin in plank position, with your arms extended and your hands just slightly wider than shoulder width. Then, keeping your body rigid and your elbows close to your side, bend your elbows and lower yourself until your nose and chest touch the floor. If you can’t go that far down under control in the beginning, that’s okay — you’ll get there eventually. Also, be sure not to flare your elbows out to the side. Then just push back up and do it again.
This exercise will keep you from having that wiggly flesh on the back of your arm, where the triceps muscle is located. Tricep push-ups are done just like a standard push-up except that you have your hands closer together — a little narrower than shoulder width. This puts more emphasis on the triceps and less on your chest. These are little harder, so it may be some time before you can go all the way down. If you’re really having a tough time, try them on your knees instead of your toes.
Get the most out of your exercise program
Exercise promotes numerous health benefits and is an important part of any weight-loss plan. But losing weight and keeping it off takes more than just exercise. That’s where Quest Weight Loss can help.
Our personalized weight-loss plans are designed to identify and address factors that can make weight-loss difficult. We’ll work with you to develop a plan that focuses on the four pillars of nutrition, hydration, exercise, and supplementation. It’s a custom-tailored program that gives you exactly what you need to succeed.
If you’re ready to start looking and feeling your best, contact us today for a free consultation!