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A Simple But Effective Home Workout Program That Works E-mail
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"Training in a gym can be beneficial for many reasons", according to Los Angeles based health and fitness experts Jeff Behar and Laura Mak. "Gyms can provide atmosphere, depth of equipment, and available instruction, however, training in a gym may not be ideal for everyone". For those lacking time or access to a gym, you can still get in good shape at home if you know what you are doing, according to Behar and Mak.

There are exercises and shortcuts that can help people reach their goals quicker, and without as much risk for injury, according to Behar. 

Behar and Mak share their favorite exercises that work well at home for those that may not have the time or desire to workout in a gym.

No. 1: Walking

Walking is number one on our list for a number of reasons. Most notably, it is a great exercise that can be done anywhere.  You can walk anywhere, anytime. All you need is the right attitude and a good pair of shoes. The other reason it is number one on our list is because if done regularly it has so many health benefits. Walking can reduce the risk of many diseases - from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, to cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.

The 20-year Nurses' Health Study of 72,000 female nurses showed that exercise such as brisk walking for three hours a week - or just half an hour a day - is associated with a 30% to 40% lower risk of heart disease in women. The Nurses' Health Study also linked regular activity to risk reductions for breast cancer and type 2 diabetes  (another study  people at high risk of diabetes cut their risk in half by combining consistent exercise like walking with lower fat intake and a 5% to 7% weight loss). Walking also helped men as well. 

A Harvard study of more than 11,000 men showed that regular, moderate exercise equivalent to brisk walking for an hour a day, five days a week, can cut the risk of stroke in half, so there is no argument that a walking program can not only improve your looks and well being but it can possibly extend your life as well! Several studies have proven that consistent exercising like walking reduces bone mineral density loss. A study of more than 30,000 men and women ages 20 to 93 showed a marked reduction in hip fractures. The list goes on and on. Many other studies indicate a daily brisk walk also can help:
  • Relieve arthritis and back pain
  • Strengthen muscles, bones, and joints
  • Prevent colon cancer
  • Improve or prevent constipation
  • Prevent impotence
  • Lengthen lifespan
  • Improve sleep
  • Elevate overall mood and sense of well-being
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Prevent depression
How to implement a successful walking program:

A steady routine is the most important factor in getting the most out of your exercise program. Beginners should start by walking 10 minutes at a time, gradually moving up to at least 45 minutes per session. As you progress, lengthen the time of your walks before boosting your speed or incline. Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days a week is. recommended.

When walking do not slouch in the shoulders, forward lean from the waist, or excess sway in your back. To increase the intensity concentrate on taking faster steps, not longer - your stride will lengthen naturally as you step up speed. When walking hold your elbows at a right angle so your arms can swing more quickly. Your hands should trace an arc from alongside the waist on the back swing, to chest height (no higher) in the front. Last but not least consciously push off from your toes and generate as much boost as possible at the end of each step.

During your walks, you should be able to maintain a conversation. If you're breathing too lightly, increase your pace. If you can't catch your breath, slow it down. By saying in this zone you will burn the maximum amount of body fat while minimizing muscle loss.

Additional tips to keep you on track:
  • Stretch before and after your walk to reduce chances of injury.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Wear comfortable shows.
  • Bring water with you so as not to become dehydrated. 
No. 2: Cardio Interval Training

Interval training is another favorite of Trainer's Behar and Mak. "We both support interval training primarily because it increases the overall intensity of your workout, which is an important component for success," according to Behar. Interval training if done correctly can add cardio to your cardio, increase blood flow, boost your overall fitness level, increase the amount of calories burned and help you get in better shape quickly.

How to perform Cardio Interval Training

Push up the pace for a three minutes, then back off for five minutes,. Depending on the length of your workout, your conditioning and how much time you need to recover the interval lengths should be adjusted. Do this throughout the workout.

No. 3: Supersetting

A Superset is a technique where two or more exercises are performed back to back. When three exercises are performed in succession it is referred two as a triset superset. Why supersets is a winner:  Supersetting increases the intensity of the workout. Basically you get more done in a shorter period of time. This extra load (intensity) helps increase muscle stamina, and increases conditioning. The greater the intensity, the more effective the workout.  Supersetting is a great way to train if time is limited too!

How to perform supersets:

Supersets are most commonly performed in one of two ways. One way is doing two different exercises - for bodybuilding routines - in a row that hit the same muscles. Other way is doing two exercises - for bodybuilding routines - in a row hitting two different muscle groups. Supersets work best when targeting opposing muscle groups. Performing them this way allows for a better pump, as well as more reps. An example of the second method would be say combining a Bicep Curl with an Overhead Press. This would be done as follows:

(1) Sit on bench (or stand) and begin with a bicep curl,

(2) bringing the weights towards the shoulders. 

(3) Immediately turn the palms out and raise arms into 'goal posts'. 

(4) Lift arms straight up overhead, but don't touch the weights at the top. 

This exercise works the biceps and the shoulders. Another way of supersetting these two exercises would be performing the bicep curl to exhaustion, then immediately without rest perform the overhead press. Many bodybuilders also love to superset bicep curms with a tricep exercise such as tricep pushdowns, or tricep kickbacks. Whatever your preference, it is the technique that matters most. Supersetting can be a great way to jumpstart or turbo charge a stagnant routine.  

No. 4: Lunges

Why it's a winner: Like squats, lunges work all the major muscles of the lower body. Lunges also help improve your balance. For women especially lunges are a great way to prevent bone density loss.

How to do perform single-leg lunges

This exercise targets the Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, and Core. 1. Stand in a lunge with left foot in front, knees bent and left thigh parallel to floor. 2. Lean forward from hip, then straighten left leg, extending right leg behind you 45 degrees. 3. Return to start. 4. Complete 10 - 20 reps on each leg.

How to do perform wide stance lunges

(1)  Begin by standing straight, then step forward with one foot, leaving the other back.

(2)  Both feet should be directed straight with the toes facing forward. Take a large step.

(3)  Lower your back knee almost to the floor, and rise up again, concentrating on squeezing your buttocks to push yourself up

(4)  Maintain your body in an upright position and avoid leaning forward.

(5)  Repeat this action to perform several repetitions, then again with the opposite foot forward.

How to do perform narrow stance lunges

(1)  Begin by standing straight, then step forward with one foot, leaving the other back.

(2)  Both feet should be directed straight with the toes facing forward, heels no more than 4 inches apart. Take a half step.

(3)  Lower your back knee almost to the floor, and rise up again, concentrating on squeezing your buttocks to push yourself up.

(4)  Maintain your body in an upright position and avoid leaning forward.

(5)  Repeat this action to perform several repetitions, then again with the opposite foot forward.

(6)  Make sure there is not too great a distance between your feet. Do not allow your front knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, and stop where your feel comfortable.

No. 5: Squats

Why it's a winner: Squats work multiple muscle groups - the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals - at the same time.

How to properly perform a squat

(1)   Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight.

(2)  your knees and lower your rear as if you were sitting down in a chair, keeping your knees over your ankles.

(3)  Repeat.

If you have bad knees, poor balance or you are just not in great shape YET, then you can start slowly by practicing with a chair.  Place the chair behind you. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and sit all the way down in the chair and stand back up. Next, don't sit all the way down; barely touch the chair's seat before standing back up. Lastly, graduate to doing squats without a chair.

Once you have mastered this technique try adding additional sets of the exercise and alter  the width of your feet placement and the direction you point your toes.  For instance, adding three additional sets of the squat, while keeping your knees together will concentrate the work on tour glutes (rear) and hamstrings.  If you point your toes outward, you will work more of the inner lower portion of the leg (quadriceps). By varying toe and feet position you will get a more overall workout and hit more of the secondary and supporting muscles. with a real chair to master this move.

No. 6: Push-ups

Why it's a winner: Push-ups also work multiple muscle groups - the chest, the triceps and indirectly the abdominals and shoulders - at the same time. It is an excellent exercise for general upper body strength. It is also a chosen favorite of both Behar and Mak because this simple yet very effective exercise does not require any equipment other than your own body weight and your arms; it can be done anywhere there is a firm surface, and it can be varied to meet many needs.

How to do properly perform a push-up:

(1)  Assume a prone position on the floor or other rigid surface (preferable carpeted-more on that later) that's able to support your body weight. Keep your feet together!!!

(2)  Make two fists and place them under yourself on the floor, approximately shoulder width apart.

(3)  Raise yourself using your arms.

(4)  Make a straight line from your head to your heels.   

(5)  Lower your body to the ground until your elbows form a 90 degree angle. Keep your elbows close to your body for more resistance. Keep your head facing forward. Try to have the tip of your nose pointed directly ahead. Draw a breath as you lower yourself. Try to touch your chest to the ground.

(6)  Exhale as you raise yourself by attempting to push the ground away from you. Feel the power coming from your shoulders and chest. Continue the push until your arms are almost in a straight position (but not locked). Contract (squeeze) your chest through this movement and again at the top of the movement. Do NOT lock your arms.

(7)  Repeat

Beginners may start doing push-ups leaning into their kitchen counters, then working their way down to a desk or chair, onto the floor with knees bent, and on the floor on their toes. To make it harder, put your feet on a stair, bench, or couch while maintaining good form.

To vary this exercise and work more of the triceps and less of the chest, you can try what is called a

Close Grip Push-ups

(1)  Start by lying face down on the floor with your hands approximately four to six inches apart. You may need to have your knees touch the ground until you can build up enough strength to perform the movement with your legs straight.

(2)  Push-up until your arms are straight, keeping you back and legs straight. This is the starting position.

(3)  Slowly bend elbows and lower body to floor with the chest almost touching the hands. Remain in proper alignment with abdominals held in tight. Exhale on exertion.

(4)  Return to starting position.

(5)  Repeat

No. 7: Leg Raises

Why it's a winner: Leg raises are another exercise that requires no special equipment. Leg raises place primary stress on the lower half of the rectus abdominis although the muscle fibers of the upper rectus abdominia are recruited as well. Secondary stress is also placed on the intercostal muscles. Most importantly to many, leg raises target the stubborn lower abdominal area that is so hard for many to flatten and lose.

How to properly perform leg raises

(1)  Lie on your back on an inclined ab board with your head toward the raised end.

(2)  Grasp the end of upper bench with your hands to stabilize your body.

(3)  Bend your leg 15-20 degrees or until you feel your back relax.

(4)  Use your abdominal muscles to raise your feet in an arc to a position directly above your head.

(5)  Drop your feet in a return arc until they clear the bench.

(6)  Repeat until failure (get 15-25 reps).

Because this movement works the hard to work lower abs you want to do this exercise before crunches.

No. 8: Roll Up Abdominal Crunches

This exercise targets the rectus abdominis (the "six-pack" muscle). It is approximately 30 percent more effective than the standard crunch because the move challenges your abs through a fuller range of motion, recruiting more muscle fibers.

How to properly perform roll up crunches:

(1)  Begin by lying on your back with feet flat on the floor.

(2)  Lie back with legs straight and arms extended above head next to ears.

(3)  Press your low back down.

(4)  Keep your neck in line with your spine.

(5)  Don't hold your breath.

(6)  Bring arms forward, tilt chin down, and slowly curl upper body up, reaching hands to toes while exhaling.

(7)  Repeat

No. 9 Bicep Dumbbell Curl

 

Why it is a winner? Bicep curls are a simple but effective exercise that tightens the front part of the arm, the bicep. Development is seen fairly quickly, when the workouts are consistent and kept intense.

How to properly perform a dumbbell bicep curl:

(1)  Position two dumbbells to sides, palms facing in, and arms straight.

(2)  Without swaying or swinging the weight, and with elbows to the sides, raise one dumbbell and rotate forearm until forearm is vertical and palm faces shoulder.

(3)  Lower to original position and repeat with opposite arm.

(4)  Repeat this movement for 8 to 10 repetitions.

(5)  Continue to alternate between sides.

The key to the bicep curl is weight control. If you can't control the weight through the whole bicep curl, you may be lifting too heavy.

Common errors when performing dumbbell curls
The following errors are potentially dangerous and can result in injury. Avoid them at all costs.
  • Swinging the weight. This error is often made by people who are using too much weight in an effort to use momentum to get the weight moving. This reduces the effectiveness of the exercise by taking tension off the target muscles. It also has the potential to damage your lower back.
  • Overarching the back. The other common error is hyperextending (over-arching) the back. This places an unnecessary strain on the lower back.
  • Leaning back. This is often done at the end of the set as the weight starts to get heavy in an effort to keep going. This is potentially dangerous to your lower back. If you can't complete the rep in the good form, go as far as you can, hold it there for as long as you can, then lower the weight.
No. 10: Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Why it's a winner: The shoulder press is a simple compound exercise (involves two or more joint movements) that overall is the best exercise to work the overall shoulder muscle. It also indirectly works the triceps (the back of the arm). Additionally, the dumbbells allow for a greater freedom of movement than  using a barbell.. This can increase shoulder muscle activation. It is also useful for shoulder injuries as the dumbbells are far less stressful to the shoulder joint.

How to properly perform dumbbell shoulder presses:

(1)  Position yourself on a chair to support your back set firmly against the pad.

(2)  Press the dumbbells up over your head and return to the start position allowing the dumbbells to come down in front of you just below your chin.

(3)  Repeat this movement for 8 to 10 repetitions.

Shoulder Press Tips

Keep your pinkies higher than your thumbs throughout the movement. This will mean tipping the dumbbells slightly down and in towards your head as though pouring water on yourself. This will increase the tension in the deltoids.

Common errors when performing shoulder presses
The following errors are potentially dangerous and can result in injury. Avoid them at all costs.
  • Leaning back. When the weight starts to get heavy, many people have a tendency to lean back, in effect turning the exercise into an incline press with no back support. This reduces the effectiveness of the exercise as well as placing an unnecessary strain on the lower back.
No. 11: Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows

Why it's a winner: The bent-over row works all the major muscles of the upper back, as well as the biceps. The bent-over row primarily targets the latissimus dorsi muscle.

How to perform bent over rows:

(1)  Stand next to a sturdy bed or another flat surface that will provide a good support.

(2)  Place your left hand and left knee onto the flat surface

(3)  Hold onto the weight in your right hand.

(4)  Slowly bring the weight towards the hip while keeping the back straight until elbow bends past 90° and the humerus is in line with the back, then lowered to the original position.

(5)  Lower the weight back down to straighten the arm.

(6)  Repeat this procedure, concentrating on utilizing your back muscles.

(7)  Switch over and do the exercise with your left arm.

Tips when performing bent-over rows
  • Allow scapula to articulate but do not rotate torso in effort to throw weight up. 
  • Torso should be close to horizontal.
  • Positioning the supporting knee and/or arm slightly forward or back will allow for proper leveling of torso.
Common errors when performing bent-over rows
The following errors are potentially dangerous and can result in injury. Avoid them at all costs.
  • Overarching the back. The other common error is hyperextending (over-arching) the back. This places an unnecessary strain on the lower back.
  • Not wearing a lifting belt. This places an unnecessary strain on the lower back.
Bent-over Rows: Tips for Beginners

Beginners should perform the move without weights. If you have trouble doing this exercise standing up, support your weight by sitting on an incline bench, facing backward.

Caution Advised

Both Behar and Mak caution that you are new to exercising, have not exercised in a long while, over 40, have a health problem, or take regular medication, check with your doctor before starting a fitness program.

 
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