5 Essential Morning Workout Routines You Can Do At Home
Getting up that extra hour early just to go to the gym is a drag, and come the end of the working day, it can be a struggle to motivate yourself to throw on your sweats and running shoes when there’s Netflix and a delicious bowl of pasta at home. And let’s not even get started on weekends!
It is for reasons like this that you need to take advantage of the time you’ve got. That means attempting your kegels exercises at your desk, walking that extra distance to the next tram stop or taking the stairs instead of the escalator, and stretching on the walk back from the bathroom.
But if you want to get in a solid workout that will give you visible results then you don’t even need to grab your gym bag in the morning because you can do them at home. Just throw the sheets off, jump out of bed, and get to it.
#1 Abs of steel with a Bosu Ball Crunch
Your stomach and abdominal muscles are the easiest to train at home. Even if it’s just planks, your home is more than well-equipped for a solid ab workout.
The best exercise that I have found is the Bosu Ball Crunch. A Bosu Ball is the inflated half-ball you’ve seen at the gym and which is a wise investment for any at-home exerciser since you can put it on the floor of your closet and pull it out whenever you feel the urge. If you’re already pretty lean and seeking to cut your abs in a way that will get people’s attention, then this is an absolute must.
Simply place the Bosu Ball next to your bed and drape yourself over it, positioning your butt not on the top, but hanging ever so slightly over the side. Position your feet either under the bed or for more intensity place them on top of the bed and then do standard crunches while making sure that you are getting an arch in your back as you do it. This last bit is most important as it will activate the range of motion, a vital part of making muscles grow.
Extra Tip: If you want, after each set of Bosu Ball crunches, move to the side and do a set of regular sit-ups. Your stomach muscles won’t have any idea what’s happening to them and the shock will only force your abs to grow.
#2 Legs for days with the Bulgarian Split Squat
Rid yourself of the guilt of missing leg day by swapping out the deadlifts and the barbell squats for body-weight squats and lunges. They are super easy to do at home and you can purchase weights without fuss if you want to add some extra power to your morning routine.
To kick your at-home leg routine into overdrive, however, use the Bulgarian Split Squat. This is a great one to do at home since you have the advantage of not making a fool of yourself if you topple over, which is possible if your legs aren’t already trunks, since your body won’t be used to your balance being so off-centre.
All you need is a steady coffee table (please, no glass!), chair, or even an ottoman. Place your left foot behind you on the surface and then lunge, trying to get your left knee as close to the ground as possible without straining a muscle. Alternate to each leg after 10 lunges for at least three sets. You’ll feel the pull of your quad, hamstring, and calf muscles and you’ll be seeing toned legs in no time.
Extra Tip: Make sure whatever surface you are using goes no higher than your knees – any higher and you risk injury. Think of the benches you would use at the gym and that’s the optimum height.
#3 Pump your chest and arms with elevated push-ups
Don’t pack up just yet! Utilise that same coffee table, chair, ottoman, trunk, bed, whatever it was that you used for your Belgian Split Squats and do elevated push-ups. They are harder than regular push-ups but also get more visible results. While they predominantly work the chest muscles, you’ll notice your biceps and triceps get a flush, too.
All you need to do is get into a regular push-up position and then place the toes on the elevated surface before proceeding with your push-ups as usual. The higher the surface, the harder this is going to be. Likewise, whether you place your hands shoulder-width apart or close together or on angles will affect your abilities. Try a few different forms to see which works best for you and aim for three sets of 10. If your arms are shaking as you go then don’t force your body. Do what you can because, like most other exercises, once you start doing it regularly enough you will be more than able to get them done.
Extra Tip: If you’re a newcomer to push-up exercises, then pull the Bosu Ball out again and use that. It’s not as high, but will be great preparation before moving up.
#4 Don’t skip cardio – get a jump rope
Think you need to leave the house – or purchase a giant, eyesore of a treadmill – to get your daily cardio in? Truly, all you need is to revert back to your youth and get a skipping rope. Make it a game with yourself to best your score each day and you will work up a surprisingly good sweat that will get your blood pumping more than any coffee could and warm you up on a winter’s morning.
As you get better you will also get fitter, and when you do go to the gym you will surprise yourself by being able to run even further than usual on the treadmill. It’s a win-win, really.
Extra Tip: Add a little incentive to your sets by forcing yourself to do burpies every time you trip up.
#5 Erase lower back pain with the ‘Bird Dog’
All the fuss is made about skipping leg day, but your back muscles needs tender love and care just as much. Perhaps even more! Thankfully, it is remarkably easy to reverse what years of office work, TV binge-watching, and lazy days in bed have done to our lower backs (and to add extra strength to your core while you’re at it, too).
Despite the silly name, the Bird Dog is a great way to combat this pain. Get on all-fours with your knees and hands planted firmly on the ground, and make sure you have a neutral spine. Once in this position extend your left leg out behind you. As soon as you’re steady, then extend your right arm out in front of you. If you were to look at yourself, your body would be a straight line that you can balance a bowl of food on. Keep that position for 45 seconds if you can before switching to your right leg and left arm.
Extra Tip: Try and do this alongside a mirror, that way you can accurately judge how straight your back is. This exercise doesn’t work if your form isn’t right.
Glenn Dunks is a freelance culture writer. He has written for a variety of online and print publications including Junkee and has authored books on Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, and the Cannes Film Festival. He tweets a lot at @glenndunks