There are some days that, for whatever reason, you just can’t get yourself to the gym. You could be completely swamped with work in the office, might have young children vying for your attention on the weekends, or maybe the weather is just too cold and rainy to be able to pull yourself out of bed at 5am.
Whatever the reason is, just because you can’t motivate yourself to head to the gym, doesn’t mean you necessarily have to skip a workout. In fact, there are a whole range of exercises you can do right in your lounge room that can still give you that taught, toned look you’re wanting – no machine leg press required! These can include body weighted exercises, or else only require a set of lighter dumbbells to get you looking lean and keeping fit.
Take a look at the below exercises to get some motivation for creating your very own at-home toning workout. By combining these moves into a timed circuit, you can not only achieve great results, but can also get in a quick workout that allows you to make the most of your day!
1. Bulgarian Split Squat
If you want to tone up those glutes and quads fast, this is a great move to target those trouble areas. And depending on your level of fitness, you can either perform this move with or without weights.
To begin, stand with your back facing a chair, roughly 2 feet away, with a dumbbell in each hand if you’re performing this move with weights. Lift your left leg and place it on the chair behind you, so that the top of your left foot is laying on the seat of the chair.
Next, squat down on your right leg, bending it to a 90-degree angle with your knee over your ankle. Hold for a moment at the bottom before straightening back up into a standing position.
Perform 15-20 reps of this move per leg and aim to complete 2-3 sets.
2. Squat and Shoulder Press
This is a great old-school move that targets your glutes, thighs and shoulders, making it highly effective for creating a toned, lean form.
To perform the move, start with your feet hip-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand that’s an appropriate weight for you. Now, bend your knees into a squat position, so that your thighs are making a 90-degree angle - as if you’re going to sit in a chair.
Pause at the bottom and then push through your thighs to move yourself back into a standing upright position. Once in the standing position, raise your arms straight up over your head, keeping your core strong. and then lower back down into the starting position. This is one rep.
Perform 8 to 12 reps of this move, performing it at a moderate pace so you can receive the full benefits.
3. Three-Way Lunges
This is a great bodyweight move to target that tricky inner-thigh area, while also working your quads and glutes at the same time.
Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and your hands clasped in front of your chest. Lunge forward with your left leg until your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Return to your original standing position.
Then take your left leg and lunge out to the left side, with your toes pointing forward and your knee bent at 90 degrees. Return to your standing position. And lastly, lunge backward with your left leg in the same motion before returning to the start position to complete one full rep.
Repeat this sequence for 20 reps on each leg and aim to complete 2-3 sets. You can also advance this move by holding a weight while you do it.
4. Single-Leg Dead Lift
Another move to tone up that lower body, the single-leg deadlift will target your hamstrings and your glutes to help you get that perky behind!
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing the front of your thighs.
Hinge forward at the hips 90 degrees as you lift extended left leg straight out behind you, so that your body is parallel to floor from head to left heel, arms hanging down.
Return to the starting position and this counts as 1 repetition. Do 15 to 20 reps on your right leg before switching sides and completing the same number on the left. When performing this move make sure you keep your core tight to aid in balance, and really feel the stretch through your hamstring.
5. Calf Raises
If you want your calves to look as though you’re regularly smashing out 10km on the treadmill without, well, actually doing that, then calf raises should be your go-to exercise. While this move is most effective performed with weights and using a step, you can also do it body weighted and with your feet on the ground.
To begin, stand with the balls of your feet on bottom a step of a staircase with your heels hanging over the edge. Your hands can either be placed on your hips, or else holding a set of dumbbells. With your toes pointed straight out in front of you, lift your heel off the ground until your foot is elevated as high as it can go. Lower back to the starting position, slightly below the level of the step. This is one rep.
This can be performed in reps of 20 for 3 sets, but if you REALLY want to feel the burn, then try doing 100 repetitions for maximum effect!
An oldie but a goodie! Push ups are one of the best upper body exercises because they work everything – your chest, back, arms and even your abs! And best of all, once you master the traditional version, there are plenty of variations so you can challenge yourself and keep your workouts interesting!
Start in a plank push up position, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your legs straight out behind you with your feel hip-width apart. Your body should be one straight line and elevated off the floor.
Keep your core strong and engaged, lower yourself towards the ground, keeping your body as straight as possible. Try to get your chest and hips as close to the floor as possible without touching it all the way down. Then push yourself back up to the starting position and repeat.
To see maximum results from this move, perform 10-15 reps and aim for 3 sets. It could be tricky at first, but once you build up that upper body strength, you’ll be surprised ta just how quickly you improve.
7. Bicycle Crunches
And this one is to help you get those shredded obliques of your dreams. These bad boys create a great fire in your core because they require deep abdominal stabilisation and rotation. They have also have been proven to activate more muscle fibres in the rectus abdominus and obliques than a standard crunch.
Begin by lying flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Pull your navel in, so as to target your deeper ab muscles.
Put your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground, but be sure not to pull on your neck.
Next, straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee. Make sure that only your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows.
Now switch sides and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep. For best results, do 3 sets of 20 reps.
There’s no need to rush this movement. In fact, going steady and performing the move correctly so you really engage those core muscles will yield best results and ensure you don’t put too much pressure on your neck.
While getting to the gym and hitting up the weight machines is a great way to build muscle and gain strength, it’s not always a plausible option. If that’s the case, try creating your own at-home workout that incorporates some or all of the above exercises.
Remember, some exercise is better than none, and these moves will help to build lean muscle and tone without the need to even set foot in a gym!