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Home Workouts – Keep It Simple Stupid

The other week I was contacted by the OC Register about participating in a column they were writing throughout the year about workout moves you could do at home. They were talking to a few different trainers in the area and getting each of them to demo about 8-10 exercises. (My first move will be featured on the 25th…AHHHHHHH!)

You could use equipment. It just had to be something that could easily be stored.

I was super pumped to participate and instantly started writing out a list of things I could do. I debated about a kettlebell or sandbag.

But decided against using any equipment except for something someone would easily have lying around the house.

I’ve become extremely interested in finding and creating great and challenging home workout moves you can do with limited space and no equipment and I wanted to highlight some of those moves.

And when the reporter asked me why I picked the moves I did when there are so many crazy cool new pieces of equipment out there that could be stored easily at home….

I said, “Because you don’t NEED any of those!”

Equipment can be fun. It can keep you interested and add variety to a routine that is getting stale.

But it isn’t NECESSARY.

Equipment doesn’t mean you are going to get a more challenging workout. Heck sometimes it even means getting away from truly functional moves that will truly have the most benefit.

Equipment is a TOY. It isn’t necessary even though people have become convinced that they can only get in a great workout if they have the latest and greatest TOY.

Basically, I explained to him that I wanted to make a point that you don’t really need ANYTHING to get in a great workout at home! That there are a ton of tweaks you can make to traditional moves to make them more challenging and keep your workout interesting.

Yea I love equipment, but sometimes it just takes us away from what is important. Sometimes it distracts us from focusing on what will actually help us achieve our goals.

Sometimes equipment just complicates moves unnecessarily.

Sometimes we would get more out of a workout if we just KEPT IT SIMPLE and stuck to basic moves and movements!

Pull, push, squat and hinge. Those four basic movements are all you need.

Push Ups, pull ups (or rows), squats and lunges. These are examples of each of the four movements above.

Those four moves work your entire body. And those four moves can be made challenging without any equipment. There are also a ton of variations you can do without anything fancy so you never get bored.

Push ups can be done on an incline. Or you can do them on a decline to advance them. You can do handstand push ups. Or set up some books and do a shuffle push up over them. You can also do a push up to side plank or a fly to push up on a towel. (For more push up variations, here are some ideas. You can do all of these at home even the push up to dip.)

There is always the spiderman push up too....

There is always the spiderman push up too….

All these moves are simple. None of them require anything you don’t have at home. And all just are slight variations on the traditional push up.

We aren’t reinventing the wheel here.

We are just tweaking it slightly to make it harder or easier. We are adjusting it to focus on slightly different parts of our body.

Same goes for the pull ups or rows, squats and lunges.

Especially the lunges.

People think of lunges and they think forward and backward lunges….maybe they even include side lunges. But what about curtsy lunges? What about lunges in EVERY DIRECTION? You can do angled lunges. Rotational lunges…You can literally lunge in every direction to hit different aspects of your leg.

Rotational Lunges

You can lunge in EVERY direction!

And on top of that you can add a towel to one foot to increase the intensity of the lunges. Or you can even do a balance lunge with your foot up on a couch/chair/table to make the basic split squat even more difficult.

You can do lunges where the weight is on the leg moving out. Or you can do a lunge where the leg working is more static. For example: On a side lunge, you can either step out into the lunge and sink into the leg that has stepped out OR you can sink into the standing leg and then just reach the other leg out straight to tap the toe out to the side.

Both work the leg in very different ways!

But you don’t need any fancy equipment to make the moves hard or even add variety! You can work your legs from every angle just by doing a LUNGE.

Keep it simple stupid.

Don’t worry about the latest and greatest equipment. Stick with the basics and you will get results!

What are your favorite variations of the push up, pull ups (or rows), squats and lunges? Do you find that you get caught up always looking for the next new piece of equipment? Do you even skip workouts at home because you don’t have “equipment?”

P.S. Who likes working out with a friend or a spouse? Interested in some great partner moves? Check back tomorrow!!!

Top 10 Leg Exercises (that Candy and I now hate)

So yesterday Candy and I did a leg workout. The last two leg workouts we have done have absolutely murdered our leg muscles.

Here are the 10 best (most tortuous) leg exercises (in no particular order because all can be equally dreadful):

1. Heavy Back Squat (Candy’s least favorite)- There is something about putting a heavy barbell on your back and having to squat down and stand back up that is just fear inducing. I’m always afraid I won’t be able to stand back up…which has happened before.

The Back Squat is a full leg workout, primarily targeting your glutes, quads and hamstrings as well as your adductors, abductors and calf muscles. Your erect0r spinae as well as your transverse abdominus are also engaged so you are working your entire core too! A great first exercise to do! Yesterday we did 5 sets of 5, increasing weight with each set.

2. Cocktail Lunges – Cocktail lunges are a front and back lunge combined. You lunge forward and then backwards, trying to not tap your foot down in the middle. A forward and backwards lunge is one rep. The front lunge and back lunge do both work your entire leg and the stabilizer muscles in your hips, torso and spine. However, your quad is the primary mover in both so you really burn out the quad by combining the two lunges into one rep!

For an extra burn, complete all reps on one side before switching to the other leg. Candy and I did 10 reps on each side before switching (one rep is one forward and one rear lunge). We added some weights to make it even more of a challenge!

3. Slider Side Lunges – Let the adductor machine gather dust and pick up a slider instead! Place one foot on the slider and one on the ground parallel to your foot on the slider. Slide the slider away keeping that leg straight as you bend the standing leg and squat down. When you stand, drag the slider back in keeping the leg straight. As Brian says, “It feels like my groin is ripping!!!”

4. Step Ups – I don’t know why…but I absolutely hate these. Like cocktail lunges, they always make me out of breath. They are simple. Pick a tall box (a challenging height) and step up. If the box is higher, it will also isolate the hamstrings more (but don’t make the box too high…you want it to be about knee height). And if you start farther away from the box, you will work your glutes more. When you step up, tap the other foot on top and climb back down. Isolate one leg first. Add some weight and increase the challenge!!

5. One leg squats (to bench or with TRX) – So the goal here is a pistol squat…no bench…no TRX…just a one leg squat as low as you can go. Candy and I both need a little assistance especially since this isn’t usually the first exercise we do. This is a great full leg workout. It makes you work extra hard too because you have to maintain your balance. AND by isolating one leg, you can make sure that each leg is doing the full amount of work instead of one leg dominating!

6. Kettlebell Swing – KB swings are supposed to be the absolute BEST exercise for your back side. After doing one round yesterday, I wanted to take the kettlebell and let it fly out a window. I usually like KB Swings, but yesterday they were brutal and today my butt is very very sore. So if you want a nice butt…do kettlebell swings.

7. TRX Hamstring Curls – We love to hate these. They destroy your hamstrings and you just want to be done with them. Ten times better than the leg curl machine for you!

8. Split Squat Jumps – We did these today. You start in a lunge position then jump up and land in a lunge on the other side. If you do them quickly and get low, split squat jumps are cardiovascular and really burn your legs.

Want some lean legs? Then definitely do these plyos.

9. Preacher Squats (aka Pitcher Squats, Bulgarian split squats or Balance Lunges) – Brian always wants to skip these. He has weak quads and preacher squats really really work the quads. Enough said.

10. Jump Squats -Squating and jumping. A plyometric exercise that will help you develop lean and powerful legs. What could be better?!?

Runners Up: Wall sit, Box Jumps, Air Squats, Front Squats, Plie Squat (Sumo Squat) and box shuffle.

Deadlift didn’t make the list because it is so much more than just a leg exercise. It is the Man Bicep Move!!! You can torture your glutes, hamstrings,  traps, back and core with the deadlift!!!

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