5 exercises you can do at home with only a gym mat

Forking out for gym membership doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to stick to regular and rewarding fitness regime. Not only this, but it’s really easy to forego the gym if you’re not feeling up to getting out to the gym after a long day at work.

Perhaps a more rewarding and convenient way of getting fit is committing to a home-based fitness regime, so here we take you through some floor exercises you can do alongside a bit of cardiovascular (e.g. running, jogging or swimming). Enjoy!

1. Elbow plank

Held for prolonged periods, this is an effective exercise for strengthening the abs, lower abs, triceps and chest.

1. Lie face down on a gym mat, elbows (which should be bent) and forearms flat on the mat.

2. Raise your torso, thighs & knees off the floor – the body is now supported only by the forearms and tip toes.

3. Pull in your abs tight, keeping your pelvis straight, making sure you maintain a straight back at all times (don’t let your lower back dip, you’re your bum raise too far in the air).

4. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds or until you feel you can no longer maintain a straight back.

2. Push/press up

The push/press up is great for working not only the chest muscles and triceps, but also the core, abdominals, legs and back.

1. Kneel.

2. Place both hands, shoulder width apart, on the floor in front of you.

3. Ensure now that your wrists and elbows are in line with your chest (i.e. directly below it), and your fingers are spread out and facing forward.

4. Lift off your knees so your body is in a straight line and supported only by your hands and feet – to make sure your back remains straight, ensure that a) your lower back isn’t dipping down and b) your bum isn’t in the air.

5. You should feel your core muscles tightening, and no pressure in your lower back. Keep your abdominals tight and make sure your pelvis remains straight.

6. Lower yourself towards the floor by bending your elbows, making sure your back remains straight and your abdominals remain tight.

7. Don’t lower yourself all the way to the floor –when you reach about 10cm from the floor, pause briefly and then steadily push back to the start position by extending (but not completely straightening) the elbows.

3. The superman

This is an effective exercise for strengthening your lower back and upper shoulders. Relatively straightforward to master, it’s a good one for beginners.

1. Lie face down on a gym mat, arms straight out in front of you.

2. Raise both arms and legs off the ground simultaneously.

3. Extend your spine out even further to raise the chest.

4. Pause, holding your raised position for 10-30 secs, depending on how strong you are.

5. Slowly lower to the start position.

4. Reverse crunch

Good for your abs and obliques, here you’ll crunch the legs up towards your chest and your upper body remains stationary.

Reverse Steps:

1. Lie flat on your back on a gym mat.

2. Place your hands above your head, using a counter weight (e.g. a dumbbell, or a can of tomatoes if you don’t have one).

3. Bend your knees and hips so that your knees are pointing towards the ceiling and the soles of your feet are on to the floor.

4. Crunching your abs, bring your knees up towards your head.

5. Return to the start position, repeating 5, 10, 15 times – or about as many times as you can handle!

5. Burpee

Great for the legs, triceps, buttocks,, calves, chest, hamstrings, lower abs and shoulders, the Burpee combines multiple movements in one exercise. While there are at least three variations of the burpee, this version is the intermediate version and incorporates a squat thrust with a squat jump.

1. Start from a standing position and squat down so your hands are touching the floor.

2. Perform a squat thrust by quickly extending (thrusting) the legs backwards so that you now enter into a pushup position.

3. Now, bring your knees in rapidly towards your chest to the same squat position as you began in.

4. From this squat position, propel yourself upwards by powering through the hips and knees into a vertical squat jump.

5. Land standing up straight, and repeat. This sequence should be done steadily but quickly – it’s a challenging one, so repeat as many times as you can.

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