Top 15 At-Home Exercises

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Life can be very active and we often find ourselves traveling or unable to go to our preferred health and fitness center for exercise. Ted Vickey, ACE Certified Professional, offers these 25 moves to help you stay on track, wherever you are. Using only your weight, these versatile moves can help you create a home workout tailored to your needs and abilities.

Top 15 At-Home Workouts

1. Supermans

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Lie on your stomach on a mat with your legs extended, your ankles slightly bent (toes pointing out of the shins), arms extended above your head with palms facing each other. Relax your head to align it with your spine.

Step 2

Ascending phase: Exhale, contract your abdominal and central muscles to stabilize your spine and slowly extend both hips (lift both legs) a few inches from the ground while simultaneously lifting both arms a few inches from the ground. Keep both legs and arms extended and avoid any rotation in each of them. Hold the position of the head and torso, avoiding arching your back or raising your head. Hold this position briefly.

Step 3

Descending Phase: Inhale gently and bring your legs and arms back to your starting position without any movement in your lower back or hips.

2. Push-up

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Kneel on an exercise mat or on the floor and gather your feet behind you.

Step 2

Slowly lean forward to place your palms flat on the mat, placing your hands shoulder-width, fingers facing forward or slightly inwards. Slowly move your weight forward until your shoulders are placed directly above your hands. Reposition your hands as needed to allow a complete extension of your body without folding your hips or knees. Raid your torso by contracting your abdominal/core muscles( ‘toughening’), your gluteal and quadriceps muscles and align your head with your spine. Place your feet together with your ankles in dorsiflexion (toes pointed to the shins).

Step 3

Descending phase: Slowly lower your body to the ground while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Don’t let your lower back sag or your hips rise during this downward phase. Continue to lower until your chest or chin touches the carpet/floor. Let your elbows flare outwards during the lowering phase.

Step 4

Ascending phase: Squeeze up through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. For more strength, think about pushing the ground away from you. Don’t let your lower back sag or your hips rise. Continue pressing until the arms are fully stretched at the elbows.

Step 5

Another position is to turn your hands forward and keep your elbows close to the sides during the descending phase. This shifts the focus from the chest muscles to the triceps and can reduce tension in the shoulder joint.
By pushing through the heel and outer surface of your palm, you get greater pressure and stability for your shoulders.

3. Contralateral Limb Raises

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Lie on your stomach on a mat with your legs extended, your ankles slightly bent (toes pointing out of the shins), arms extended above your head with palms facing each other. Relax your head to align it with your spine.

Step 2

Ascending phase: Exhale, contract your abdominal/core muscles to stabilize your spine and slowly raise an arm a few inches from the ground, keeping your arm outstretched and avoiding rotation in your arm. Hold the position of the head and torso, avoiding arching your back or raising your head. Hold this position briefly.

Step 3

Descending phase: Inhale gently and bring your arm back to your starting position without any movement in your lower back or hips.

Step 4

Exercise Variation (1): From your starting position, contract your abdominal and central muscles to stabilize your spine and slowly extend a hip (lift a leg) a few centimetres from the ground, keeping your leg extended, the ankle plantar (the toes pointing out of the shins) and avoiding any leg rotation. Maintain the position of your head and torso, avoiding any arching of the back and any head elevation. Hold this position briefly before returning to your starting position.

Step 5

Exercise Variation(2): From your starting position, contract your abdominal/core muscles to stabilize your spine and slowly extend a hip (raise one leg) a few centimeters from the ground while simultaneously lifting the opposite arm a few inches from the ground. Keep your leg and arm outstretched and avoid any rotation in each of them. Hold the position of your head and torso, avoiding arching your back or raising your head. Hold this position briefly before returning to your starting position.

4. Bent Knee Push-up

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Kneel on an exercise mat or on the floor and gather your feet behind you.

Step 2

Slowly lean forward to place your palms flat on the mat, placing your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward. Slowly move your weight forward until your shoulders are placed directly above your hands. Reposition your hands as needed to allow a complete extension of your body from the knees without flexing the hips. Raid your torso by contracting your abdominal and abdominal muscles (“strengthening”).

Step 3

Descending Phase: Slowly lower your body to the ground while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Don’t let your lower back sag or your hips rise during this downward phase. Continue to lower until your chest or chin touches the carpet or the floor. Your elbows should stay close to the sides of your body or flare slightly outwards.

Step 4

Ascending phase: Squeeze up through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Don’t let your lower back sag or your hips rise. Continue pressing until the arms are fully stretched at the elbows.

The pumps put pressure on the wrist joints. To ease this strain, you can choose to use dumbbells and grab the handles rather than putting your hands on the floor. If you apply pressure from a height such as a dumbbell, you don’t need to lower your chest or chin to the ground, but rather lower yourself until your chest or chin is at the dumbbell handles.

5. Bent-Knee Sit-up / Crunches

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Lie down (on your back) on a mat with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor and your heels at 12 – 18o from the tailbone.

Step 2

Place your hands behind your head, squeezing your shoulder blades (shoulder blades) against each other and pulling your elbows backward without bending your lower back. This elbow position should be maintained throughout the exercise. Align your head with your spine, but let the head bend slightly (by moving the chin to the chest) during the upward phase of the exercise.

Step 3

Rising phase: Exhale, contract your abdominal and central muscles and flex your chin slightly towards your chest while slowly wrapping your torso towards your thighs. The movement should focus on pulling your ribcage towards your pelvis (the neck remains relaxed while the chin is bent towards the neck). Your feet, tailbone and lower back should keep in touch with the carpet at all times. Continue to curl up until the top of your back is lifted from the carpet. Hold this position briefly.

Step 4

Descending Phase: Inhale gently and slowly roll your torso towards the mat in a controlled manner, keeping the feet, tailbone and lower back in contact with the mat.

It is important to be in good shape for this exercise in order to avoid excessive stress on the lower back. People usually make this move too quickly and recruit hip flexors to help them in the ascending phase. This technique tilts the pelvis forward, which increases the tension in the lower back and should be avoided. The abdominals connect the ribcage to the pelvis, so the movement should focus on bringing these two parts of the body together while keeping the neck and shoulders relaxed.

6. Push-up with Single-leg Raise

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Kneel on an exercise mat or on the floor and gather your feet behind you.

Step 2

Slowly lean forward to place your palms flat on the mat, placing your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward. Slowly move your weight forward until your shoulders are placed directly above your hands. Reposition your hands as needed to allow a complete extension of your body without folding your hips or knees. Raid your torso by contracting your central and abdominal muscles and align your head with your spine. Place your feet together with your ankles in dorsiflexion (toes pointed to the shins).

Step 3

Descending Phase: Slowly lower your body to the ground while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your lower back to sag or your hips to rise during this downward phase, contract the gluteal muscles (buttocks) and quadriceps (thighs) to create stability for your trunk. Continue to lower until your chest or chin touches the carpet or the floor. Your elbows should stay close to the sides of your body or flare slightly outwards.

Step 4

Ascending phase: Squeeze up through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. When pressing upwards, extend your left hip to lift your left foot off the ground, keeping your knee extended. Try to avoid the rotation of your hip when lifting the left leg off the floor.

Don’t let your lower back sag or your hips rise. Continue pressing until the arms are fully stretched at the elbows and your left leg is out of the ground. Briefly maintain this position before returning to your starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.

By pushing through the heel and the outer surface of the palm, you get greater pressure and stability at the shoulders.

7. Front Plank

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Lie (on your stomach) on an exercise mat or on the floor, elbows near the sides and directly below the shoulders, palms down and hands forward. Contract your quadriceps to lengthen your legs and do a dorsal bending of your ankles (pull the toes towards your shins). Contract your abdominal and central muscles to stiffen your torso.

Step 2

Upward phase. Slowly lift your entire torso off the floor or carpet, keeping your torso and legs stiff. Avoid arching (slumping) in your lower back, walk (up) in your hips or bend your knees. Avoid shrugging your shoulders and keep your shoulders positioned directly above the elbows, palms down. Continue to breathe while holding this position for a specified time (5 seconds).

Step 3

Descending phase: While maintaining a stiff torso and extended knees, gently lower your body towards the carpet or floor before relaxing.

If you experience pain in your lower back during this movement, stop exercising immediately and see your doctor.

8. Side Plank with Bent Knee

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Lie on the right side on an exercise mat, the left leg resting directly on the right leg and bend your knees for a comfortable position. Lift your upper body to lean on your right arm, your right elbow should bend 90 degrees and be placed directly under your shoulder. Align your head with your spine and keep your hips and lower knee in contact with the exercise mat.

Step 2

Rising phase: Exhale, gently contract your abdominal/central muscles to stiffen your spine and lift your hips off the mat, but keeping in touch with your knee, and head aligned with your spine.

Step 3

Lowering phase: Inhale and slowly return to your starting position.

Step 4

Exercise variation: You can increase the intensity of the exercise by increasing the length of time you are in a high position.

9. Supine Reverse Crunches

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Lie down (on your back) on a mat with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor and your arms spread to the sides, your palms down. Exhale gently, stiffen your torso by contracting your abdominal/core muscles and slowly lift your feet off the ground, lifting your knees directly above the hips while maintaining a 90-degree knee bend. Hold this position and breathe normally. Use your arms as balanced support.

Step 2

Rising phase: Exhale, contract your abdominal muscles, trunk, and hip flexors and slowly lift your hips from the mat, rolling your spine upwards as if you were trying to bring your knees back to your head (your hips and pelvis must move towards your ribcage). Avoid changing the angle of your knees during winding. Use your arms and hands to help you maintain your balance and keep curling until your spine can’t roll. Hold this position briefly.

Step 3

Descending Phase: Inhale gently and pull your spine back to the mat in a controlled manner, moving the top of your thighs backward until they are positioned directly above your hips. Continue rolling until your spine and pelvis (hips) come into contact with the mat and your knees are positioned directly above your hips with a 90-degree bending of the lower part of your leg.

It is important to be in good shape to do this exercise in order to avoid excessive strains on your lower back. When you return to your starting position during rehearsals, control the movement of your legs by making sure that your knees do not protrude from your hips, but instead return to a position directly above your hips. As the abdominals connect the ribcage to the pelvis, the focus of movement should be on pulling the pelvis upwards towards the ribcage.

10. Cobra

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Lie (on your stomach) on an exercise mat or on the floor with your hands on the sides, placed directly under your shoulders and your hands facing forward. Stretch your legs and flex your ankles (the toes point to the outside of the body).
Step Two

Rising phase: Exhale gently and press your hips on the mat or floor and spread your chest off the floor while keeping your hips stable. This will allow you to arch your lower back and stretch the muscles of your chest and abdominal area. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.

Step 3

Descending phase: Relax gently and lower your upper body to rest on the mat or floor.

Step 4

If you experience pain in your lower back during this movement, stop exercising immediately and see your doctor.
Because the length of the arms is different, people can often lift their hips from the mat or floor by fully extending their arms. In this case, limit the extension of your arms to keep the hips on the mat.

11. Squat Jumps

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Standing, feet apart at the width of the hips, arms along the body, press and retract your shoulder blades (pull the shoulders down and backward) without bending the lower back, and “support” (engage your abdominal/central muscles) to stiffen your spine.

Step 2

Descending Phase: Start your descending phase by first moving your hips backward and then descending slowly to create a hinge movement at the knees. Keep bending down until you feel your heels lift from the ground. Try to keep your back flat by leaning forward at the hips, keep your head forward and position your arms where they are comfortable or where they offer the greatest balance support.

Step 3

Jump Movement: With ONLY a very brief pause at the bottom of your descending phase, explode upwards by your lower limb, performing a triple extension (pushing and extending your ankles, knees, and hips simultaneously). When jumping in the air, keep your feet at the same level and parallel to the ground.

Step 4

Landing: The most important elements of the landing phase are the correct position of the foot and the avoidance of excessive forward movement in your lower limb, which imposes additional stresses on your knees.

Step 5

Attempted landing smoothly and quietly in the middle of the foot, rolling quickly towards the heels. Always push your hips backward and drop them down to absorb the impact forces associated with jumping. Avoid blocking your knees or quads on landing, as this can result in knee injuries.

Step 6

Settle with the trunk slightly tilted forward, your head aligned with the spine and your back stiff or flat. Keep your abdominal/core muscles engaged, stiffening your torso to protect your spine.

Step 7

Exercise variation: As you develop your jumping and landing skills, you can increase the intensity and complexity of the exercise by (1) by placing your arms behind you during the descending phase (illustrated), (2) by placing your arms forward and upwards during the jump phase (illustrated), or (3) by placing your knees towards your chest during the jump phase.

It is advisable to learn to squat and land first before attempting to jump. Once you have mastered the mechanism of the hip hinge, start with small jumps, but insist on landing mechanics. Do not progress to more explosive jumps until you have mastered your landing mechanism.

12. Forward Lunge

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Stand with your feet together. Press and retract your shoulder blades (pull your shoulders down and backward) without arching your lower back, and “support” (engage your abdominal/core muscles) to stiffen your spine.

Step 2

To prepare to move forward, slowly lift one foot from the ground, stabilizing your body on the supporting leg. Avoid bending or swinging on the upper body and try not to move the support foot. Hold this position momentarily before moving forward. The raised leg (balanced) should come into contact with a heel kick first, slowly transferring the weight of your body into the support foot (front) placed firmly on the ground. When loading this leg, avoid tipping or swaying sideways in the upper body and try not to move the support foot.

Step 3

As you move forward, focus more on falling hips to the ground rather than pushing them forward. This will help you control the amount of forwarding movement of your tibia (tibial translation forward) in relation to your foot. Continue to lower your body in a comfortable position or until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your tibia is slightly tilted forward. As you bend, lean forward at the hips, holding your back flat.

Step 4

Push firmly with your front leg, activating your quadriceps and buttocks (thigh and buttock muscles) to return to your starting position, straight.

We suggest that you first learn to stand on one leg on the ground before performing this front slit. Once you master the front slot, you can switch to the slot using multidirectional armrests and glutes.

13. Forward Lunge with Arm Drivers

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Standing with your feet together and arms raised in front of you to shoulder height, elbows completely extended. Press and retract your shoulder blades (pull your shoulders down and backward) without arching your lower back, and “support” (engage your abdominal/central muscles) to stiffen your spine.

Step 2

To prepare to move forward, slowly lift one foot from the ground, stabilizing your body on the supporting leg. Avoid bending or swinging on the upper body and try not to move the support foot. Hold this position momentarily before moving forward. The raised leg (balanced) should come into contact with a heel kick first, slowly transferring the weight of your body into the support foot (front) placed firmly on the ground. When loading this leg, avoid tipping or swaying sideways in the upper body and try not to move the support foot.

Step 3

As you move forward, focus more on falling hips to the ground rather than pushing them forward. This will help you control the amount of forward movement of your tibia (tibial translation forward) in relation to your foot. Continue to lower your body in a comfortable position or until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your tibia is slightly tilted forward. While you are level, lean forward at the hips at the same time, holding your back flat, and push your outstretched arms towards the ground in front of you (hands should reach a point below the knees). This increases the load on your gluteal muscle group.

Step 4

Push firmly with your front leg, activating your quadriceps and buttocks (thigh and buttock muscles) to return to your starting position, straight.

It is advisable to first learn to perform standing positions with only one leg on the ground and forward slits before moving on to arms use.

14. Glute Activation Lunges

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Standing with your feet together and arms raised in front of you to shoulder height, elbows completely extended. Press and retract your shoulder blades (pull your shoulders down and backwards) without arching your lower back, and “support” (engage your abdominal/core muscles) to stiffen your spine.

Step 2

From the same starting position, exit sideways with the right foot (both feet remain pointed forward) until the 3 o’clock position. Once your foot is firmly on the floor, start leaning at the hips, pushing them back while simultaneously moving your weight on the same foot. Continue to move your weight until your tibia is vertically on the ground and your knee is aligned directly with the second toe of that foot. Your left leg should be close or full extension while keeping your right foot flat. Heels on both feet should remain flat on the floor.

Step 3

During the slit, move your arms simultaneously and lean your torso in the opposite direction to the slit motion, increasing the load on your gluteal muscle group. Push firmly with your front leg, activating your quadriceps and buttocks (thigh and buttock muscles) to return to your starting position, vertical.

Step 4

From the same starting position, walk with one foot in front and across the body (both feet remain pointed forward). Once your foot is firmly on the floor, start leaning at the hips, pushing them backwards while simultaneously moving your weight on the same foot. Continue to move your weight until your tibia is vertically on the ground and your knee is aligned directly with the second toe of that foot. Your opposite leg should be bent with the heel removed from the ground.

Step 5

During the slit, rotate your torso and arms simultaneously in the opposite direction to the slit motion, increasing the load on your gluteal muscle group. Push firmly with your front leg, activating your quadriceps and buttocks (thigh and buttock muscles) to return to your starting position, vertical.

This series of multi-directional (multi-planar) slots is designed to activate your glutes that protect your knee during walking, running and jumping activities. As many of us have weak glutes, this exercise can be done as part of the pre-exercise warm-up. Given the moderate complexity of the three movements, we recommend that you learn this exercise first without your arms and only progress to your arms if you feel comfortable. We suggest that you first learn to perform standing positions on one leg on the ground and slits forward before performing these gluteal activation slots.

15. Glute Bridge

Photo credit: Acefitness.org

Step 1

Starting position: Lie on your back, on an exercise mat or on the floor, lying on your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Place your feet at hip-width with your toes facing outwards. Gently contract your abdominal muscles to flatten your lower back on the floor. Try to maintain this slight muscle contraction throughout the exercise

Step 2

Rising phase: Exhale gently by maintaining your abdominal contraction and push your hips upwards by contracting your glutes (gluteal muscles). At the same time, press your heels on the floor for stability. Avoid pushing your hips too high as this usually increases the hyperextension (Cambre) of your lower back. Maintaining the abdominal contraction prevents excessive arch in the lower back.

Step 3

Lowering phase: Inhale and slowly descend to your starting position.

Step 4

Progress: Progress gradually in this exercise starting with both feet together and extending one leg in a high position.

Avoid arching your lower back by pressing your hips up, which normally happens if you try to push your hips as high as possible. You can do this by contracting your abdominal muscles before lifting the weight and keeping them engaged for the duration of the lifting.

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