One thing I always tell my personal training clients is that a fancy fitness facility is not needed in order to keep yourself fit and active. Instead, the greatest (and only) tool you need for this is your own body. Below are my five favourite fundamental exercises that anyone can do at home.
If I were to pick just one exercise to recommend, it would be squats. It is a compound exercise that uses many major muscle groups at the same time. It helps to strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes while improving your core engagement. When done right, you can improve your mobility and balance as well.
Make sure to have your feet shoulder width distance apart and angled ever so slightly outwards. Bend through the knees and hinge through your hips while keeping your spine linear. If you can go down to at least 90 degrees at your knee, good work! Naturally, your upper body will hinge forward while going down. Breathe in on the way down and breathe out on the way up. If you want to improve your mobility and get the most out of each rep, go deeper.
Lunges are another great exercise for your lower body. You get to target one leg at a time. Have one foot forward while the other foot is back with about two steps apart between the two. Both feet and knees should face the same direction while bending the knees to go down and up. Breathe in on the way down and breathe out on the way up. Have your upper body hinged forward slightly, just like squat. Swap your feet and do the same for the other side. There are variations to lunges like forward lunges, reverse lunges or static lunges, which all work different areas within the legs.
Lay down on your back on the mat. Have your knees bent to bring your heels close to your glutes so that you can just barely touch them with your fingers. Make sure your core is engaged by pressing your lower back down the mat (there should be no gap between your lower back and the mat). Bring your hips upwards. The tip of your knees down the top of your head should form a 45-degree straight line. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to get the most out of each rep. Breathe out on the way up and breathe in on the way down.
Get on your elbows down on the mat so that your body is floating over the mat with your belly facing down. Make sure your body is one straight line – your belly should not be sinking downwards nor your butt sticking up. Hold for a designated period of time. Breathe normally and as needed.
Lay down flat on your belly on the mat. From here, set your palms slightly wider than your chest. This is where you should position your hands for push-ups. Either with your knees on the mat (this is the easier version) or off the mat (this is the harder version), push through your palms to elevate your body off of the mat. Maintain your body linear the whole time by keeping your spine straight and engaging your core. Go down to where your chest is just about to touch the mat.
Now that you know these five fundamental home exercises, I have built a home workout circuit with these exercises for you to try out.
Perform five rounds of the following exercises:
Squat: 15 reps
Plank: 30 to 60 seconds hold (pick a duration you can handle)
Lunges: 12 reps each side
Push-up: 10 to 15 reps (pick a number of reps you can handle)
Bridges: 15 reps. Hold your bridge for 30 seconds for the last rep
60 to 90 seconds rest before the next round.
This workout should take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes.
I recommend you do your workout in an environment where you can focus. So, make sure to put aside anything that may stress you out or distract you. If possible, have a full-length mirror or reflection in front of you so that you can watch and assess your form. To improve the quality of this workout experience, do it in an open air environment and make sure to hydrate yourself during and after the workout.