BENEFITS: The most effective exercise for training the lower body, the squat works the glutes, hamstrings, quads, hips, core and lower back. The squat will improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury by building strength around the knees and hips.
THE TECHNIQUE: Lower yourself into a ‘seated’ position with your quads parallel to the floor. Move your hips as if you were moving to sit in a chair, driving them backwards, bending your knees and lowering yourself until your hips are at knee level. Your weight should be distributed evenly across your feet; resist the temptation to let your heels leave the ground. Ensure your knees remain in line with your toes and that they’re not turning inwards or outwards.
TRY TO AVOID: When it comes to posture, keep your arms out in front of you – this will help keep the spine straight and prevent arching or rounding of the back.
2. Bicycle Crunches
BENEFITS: This move targets the abs and obliques (the abdominal muscles that run along each side of your core). Aside from aesthetics, the obliques are vital in providing support and stability to the spine and lower back.
THE TECHNIQUE: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground (pull your belly button in to target your deep abs). Keep your feet and shoulders off the ground at all times. Put your hands next to your head, then bring your left knee up towards your chest and rotate your upper body to the right, so that your right elbow is touching your left knee above the hip. Switch sides to complete two reps.
TRY TO AVOID: Don’t pull on your neck. Instead, use your abs to lift, and make sure your shoulders and torso are moving, not just your elbows. Don’t be afraid to go slowly – focusing on your form and breathing is crucial.
BENEFITS: The burpee will strengthen muscles in your legs, hips, bum, abs, arms, chest and shoulders, as well as providing a cardio boost. High-intensity moves like burpees will also increase the after-burn effect, leaving you burning calories for hours after your workout.
THE TECHNIQUE: Starting from a standing position, squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Quickly kick both feet out behind you so you are in a push-up position, then do one push-up. Next, bring your legs forward into a squatting position, and jump up.
TRY TO AVOID: An arching back and sinking hips. When you jump into your push-up, keep the core tight. Tuck your tailbone in and feel the tension in your abs – doing this will protect your lower back.
4. High Knees
BENEFITS: Engages the core, strengthens the legs, gets your heart rate up and improves momentum, coordination and flexibility.
THE TECHNIQUE: Stand up straight and place your feet hip-width apart. Bring one knee up above your hip, while the opposite arm comes up in a sprint-like motion, with the other foot remaining on the floor. Then bring the other knee up and opposite arm near your chin. Try to use a hopping motion as you alternate knees, engaging your abs as you go.
TRY TO AVOID: Leaning too far backwards or forwards – keep your back straight.
BENEFITS: The humble push-up targets major muscle groups including your biceps, triceps, anterior deltoids and core.
THE TECHNIQUE: Lie on your chest and stomach, with your arms bent and palms flat on the floor alongside the chest – your elbows should be close to your body, facing backwards. Then, lift your whole body until your arms are completely extended. In a controlled movement, lower your body back down until your chest touches the floor again. Throughout the movement, your shoulders, hips, and heels should form a straight line, as if you‘re holding a plank.
TRY TO AVOID: Sticking your elbows out. Also avoid letting your hips fall towards the floor, which can put pressure on the lower back.
BENEFITS: The plank helps strengthen the entire abdominal region as well as the upper thighs, arms, shoulders and glutes. It also enables you to develop better balance and support your posture.
THE TECHNIQUE: Start by placing your forearms on the floor, then step your feet back, one at a time. For more stability, bring your feet wider than hip-distance apart, and bring them closer for more of a challenge. Maintain a straight line from heels through to the top of your head, looking down at the floor, with your gaze slightly in front of your face. Engage your abs, quads and glutes, and hold.
TRY TO AVOID: Don’t let your lower back collapse. You can avoid this by engaging your core – try to imagine your belly button pulling in toward your spine.
7. Side Lunge
BENEFITS: The side lunge works the sides of the glutes, an important stabiliser for the hip joint.
THE TECHNIQUE: Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outwards and arms held straight in front of your chest – your hips and knees should be fully extended. Lower yourself to the right into a slow, controlled lunge, sinking your hips back and bending the right knee to track directly in line with right foot. Keep your left leg straight but not locked, with both feet pointing forward. Your glutes should be below the top of your knee. Push off the right foot to straighten the right leg again, and return to the starting position.
TRY TO AVOID: Be sure not to drop the chest too far forward and don’t allow the knee to push forward over your toes.
8. Squat Jump
BENEFITS: This move will strengthen leg muscles, lower abs and glutes, and get the heart pounding.
THE TECHNIQUE: Jump as high as possible off the floor by pressing through a flat foot. Your toes should be the last thing to leave the floor. Keep your eyes fixed on a point directly in front of you; this will ensure your back stays upright. Aim to land in the same spot you took off from.
TRY TO AVOID: Rushing your reps – you want to develop power, so aim to explode up from the floor with as much strength and speed as possible.
BENEFITS: Stronger abs. The sit-up will also promote better posture by working the lower back.
THE TECHNIQUE: Lie on your back and secure your feet. With your hands behind your head, raise your torso, then return to the starting position. Try to perform the exercise slowly in a controlled manner – this will let you concentrate on form and decrease the likelihood of injury.
TRY TO AVOID: Using too much momentum – this means you aren’t isolating the exercise to your abs.
10. Jumping Jack
BENEFITS: This classic cardio move will strengthen your back muscles, legs and glutes as well as boost aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
THE TECHNIQUE: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then merge them with a slight jump while simultaneously raising your arms so your hands will touch behind your head. Make sure to keep your head fully upright, with your gaze forward. In the starting position, your hands touch your thighs each time.
TRY TO AVOID: Locking the knees – instead, keep them slightly bent.
Follow David’s routine for an equipment-free workout that’ll get your heart rate soaring…
1. WARM UP
10 x squats
20 x bicycle crunches
10 x side lunges right
10 x side lunges left
2. INTERVAL TRAINING
10 x burpees
20 x high knees
20 x jumping jacks
15 x sit-ups
15 x push-ups
10 x squat jumps
3. COOL DOWN
20-second shoulder stretch left
20-second shoulder stretch right
30-second deep squat hold
30-second butterfly hold
30-second toe reach
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