“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” -Sunset Boulevard
Being a certified personal trainer and having worked in the fitness industry, I often get asked by friends to help them come up with workouts that don’t require a gym membership or buying tons of expensive equipment. I’d love to be able to help all of them, but that would mean travelling across the country, and well, I don’t think they are willing to pay that much for their own personal trainer. Then I remembered it’s 2012, and there is this little thing called the internet. You may have heard about it. So I will start posting some videos of some workouts that I have put together using some great exercises that you can do at home and still get great results without draining the bank account. These workouts will be high intensity interval training sessions that will typically be 15-20 minutes long. I love high intensity interval training (HIIT) because it allows you to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time while working at your own pace. So what exactly is HIIT? HIIT workouts are made up of a short intense work interval (usually 20-50 seconds) followed by a short rest interval. These workouts feature several different exercises that will push you beyond your comfort zone. Some workouts will focus on certain areas of the body, others will give you a great whole body workout. You’ll be working your ass off, literally. And the best part is, since each workout is different, and you’re not just sitting at a machine, they’re fun to do. Well, at least I think they are. So dust off that yoga mat, pump up that balance ball, and lace up those tennis shoes. It’s going to be a blast.
Ready to go? Here’s what you’ll need.
Interval Timer – If you have an iPhone or Droid, there are free interval timer apps out there. I use the “A HIIT Interval Timer” app on my Droid. It’s really easy to use and you can save your workouts for later use. If you don’t have a smart phone, there are interval timers out there to buy. The one from Gymboss has some great reviews. You can also use a good old fashioned stop watch or timer, but it’ll be a little more tricky.
Yoga Mat – You don’t need anything fancy. If you’re working out on nice soft carpet, a thin mat will do. If you’re on wood or tile, you’ll want something a little thicker to protect the knees, elbow, and butt for those floor exercises. Added bonus is that a lot of of home workout videos recommend a mat as well, so you’ll get a lot of use out of this bad boy.
Stability Ball – You can do a lot more with this than just crunches. Pretty much all gym exercises that would normally be done on a bench can be modified to be done on the ball. The stability part is also key. It forces you to focus on engaging your core, making exercises tougher by forcing those posture muscles really work hard. As you start to master the basic exercises, you can start to incorporate the ball into your workouts to give you that extra intensity. The most intimidating thing about using a ball is getting the right size. An average height woman can usually use a 55 cm ball. If you’re on the taller side, 5’8″ to around 6″, you’ll probably want to move up to the 65 cm ball. If you play in the NBA, choose either a 75 cm or 85 cm ball. For my gnomies, a 45 cm ball may be the way to go.
Jump Rope – My guess is you probably haven’t used one of these since recess back in elementary school. They aren’t just for little kids. Jump roping is great for high intensity cardio. You can use your jump rope to get your body warmed up and ready to go before tackling the workouts. I’ll be posting a 5 minute jump rope warm up video to get you started. If you have kids, challenge them to a jump rope competition. It’s fun and you’re going to be breathing hard in no time.
Resistance Bands – Bands can be used in place of weights in almost any exercise. They are inexpensive. They don’t take up much space. They are versatile. They come in all shapes and sizes. Love them! If you do a lot of travelling, you can pop them into your suitcase. No excuses for not working out. You’ll want to have a couple of bands of different levels of resistance. Typically you will either see them sold individually or as a set. When you are starting out, opt for some lighter to moderate resistance bands to begin with. If you are already in decent shape or are noticing the old bands are starting to get too easy, invest in some heavier resistance bands. I usually tie mine to a chair leg or door handle, but if you find you are using them quite a bit and like having a variety of heights to mount them from, you might want to look into getting a wall mount system. I don’t have a wall mount, so all of my exercises will show you how to do this without one.
Those are the must haves. The following pieces of equipment are things I may use from time to time, but are completely optional. If you don’t have the budget or the space for these, don’t worry. I will make sure to show variations that can be done using the equipment listed above or no equipment at all.
Dumbbells – Some exercises are just easier with dumbbells. It’s always nice to have some lighter weight ones around to use for upper body exercises. The draw backs are that you need to have a variety of weights, they take up space, and since they are usually priced per pound, the cost can really add up fast. I personally work work out with anything from 10 lbs to 35 lbs depending on the exercise. That’s why I usually save the dumbbell training for the gym. If you want to have some on hand, I’d recommend starting with sets of 5 lb, 8 lb, and 10 lb weights. Garage sales and 2nd hand sporting good stores are great places to find weights without having to spend a fortune.
Medicine Ball or UGI Ball – This is another versatile piece of equipment. I love to use it to add some ab and shoulder work into exercises that usually target other parts of the body. I would recommend getting something in the 8-12 lb range, depending on what feels comfortable to you. You can also make an UGI ball at home. There are patterns out there to make the fabric part of the ball. You can weight it with bags of rice or sand or screw together some weight plates.
Dip Stand – I personally love my dip stand. There are so many exercises that you can do on it for the upper body and abs. It takes so many exercises to a whole new level. The cons are that they can be a little expensive and take up space, so you may want to hold off on this one. Master the modified versions first. You can always invest in one down the road.