With gyms shut and a new set of dumbbells proving nearly impossible to find during lockdown, performing a full-body workout has become a little more challenging recently. For those of us who thought this really, truly is the year to finally get in shape, 2020 is not going as planned.
What makes things even more difficult is that few of us have the right space to exercise in. Not everyone has a garden to move around in, and not everyone can take over the living room each morning with family or housemates around. Keeping fit has become a tricky business, and with no end to lockdown in sight, we need solutions.
If there’s space to jump up and get down into a plank position, that’s great,” says Rich Tidmarsh, owner of London’s Reach Fitness, and a trainer and strength coach for clients ranging from rookies to leading rugby players like the Wales international Jamie Roberts. “Everybody is in a fairly stressful situation, but this can be a chance to use the next few weeks to perfect the basic fundamentals you need.”
Tidmarsh focuses on “uncoiling” our bodies, which he says spend too much time in an unnatural and unhealthy hunch. “When people sit at a desk all day, they get rounded shoulders,” he explains. “They curl forwards when watching TV, that horrible hunch over their iPhones – they don’t even know they’re doing it.
“Often exercises exaggerate that movement, so anything working your posterior chain – back, hamstrings, glutes – is preferable for people’s posture. That’s right the way through from beginners to professional athletes. Sprinters, boxers and UFC fighters, they’re horribly front-loaded because they’re delivering punches, kicks, so it’s about evening up to keep them injury free. But we all need it.
Luckily there still are plenty of simple exercises anyone can do to stay in shape, with just the space of a bedroom floor. You don’t even need equipment – you can use books as weights or the bed as a makeshift bench, but even they are not always necessary – or recommended.
Getting in some cardio is still important, of course, perhaps never more so given our lockdown lifestyles. For the majority of people, levels of NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis – all the tiny bits of energy we use outside sleeping, eating and sport) have been drastically reduced as the daily walk to a train station or kids’ school run has been cut. As Steve Simmons, personal trainer at Physique Fitness, explains: “Keeping active raises our metabolism. PTs will often tell clients who sit in an office all day to aim for 10,000 steps, just so you’re expending more calories throughout the day.”
Getting outside to exercise is key, but at home, rather than launching into star jumps and burpees, it is better to use any extra time you might have gained in lockdown to focus on mobility and core. Tidmarsh draws on yoga, pilates and gymnastics to string together a workout full of strong movements.
“Running on the spot in the living room isn’t that useful,” he says. “And if you go too hard with the wrong technique you can get a bad back or a busted knee, which is even more demoralising, especially when you can’t go see the doctor or a physio. Less is sometimes more. Kneeling next to your bed, you can do mobility movements for hamstrings which can develop your squat position. For the majority of people, if you asked them to do a squat it’s going to look ugly! So we workout to make that look better.”
Here are workouts to try at home:
Sand at the back of your space, feet hip-width apart. Tuck chin to chest and slowly roll forward, taking your hands down your legs towards the floor. The aim being to create space through your back and hamstrings. Slowly return to standing.
From a Jefferson curl, walk your hands out across the floor into a plank position up on your hands. To return, lift you hips up and walk your feet back to your feet, rolling up your spine back to standing.
In plank position, up on your hands, take a wide step forward on one side bringing your foot close to the outside of your hand. Lift your chest to create space then step back into plank and repeat on alternating sides.
From a standing position drop into a low squat, keeping your heels grounded and chest up. Place your elbows on the inside of your knees and push them out to help create space in your hips. Breath and relax into the shape, keeping your spine positive.
From an all fours position, on your hands and knees, alternately extend opposite arm and leg maintaining your balance and level hips. Bring back to neutral and repeat side to side.
By The Independent