Self-Isolation & Social Distancing:
Exercising At Home

Regular physical activity is undoubtedly good for us both physically and mentally. It can decrease the risk of chronic long term health conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes1, and strong evidence indicates it can boost mood and reduce the risks of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression1.

The NHS recommend healthy adults should aim to achieve 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week, or a combination of both. Moderate activity is classed as that which increases your heart rate and breathing but allows you to hold a conversation. Vigorous activity is a further increase in heart rate and breathing but results in a difficulty in talking.

Whereas we would usually partake in regular exercise at gyms, outdoor classes and personal training sessions we now find ourselves restricted to the confinements of our homes and gardens, with government guidelines asking that we only leave our homes once a day for exercise, whether that be a run/walk, cycle or circuit session in a quiet, local, green space.


If you’re struggling for motivation to remain active during this time why not try setting yourself a daily workout schedule, which may look something like this:

Morning: Run/Walk
Lunchtime: Home Workout
Evening: Home Stretching Session

You can swap these around throughout the week depending on what fits in with your working routine, and what you’re most likely to stick to. Remember exercise is meant to be enjoyable too, if you’re finding it’s a chore you need to switch things up, if you’re someone who likes to start the day with a gentle stretch rather than vigorous activity then ensure your schedule reflects this.

And if you need some inspiration for home workouts we’ve shared some simple bodyweight exercises below that can be performed indoors at home or in your garden if you’re lucky enough to have one. There are a number of ways you can perform these which we’ve outlined below:


FOR TIME

Set yourself a timer and perform each exercise for this amount of time, you can break it up with a rest period in between each exercise, for example:
45 seconds exercise, 15 seconds rest and then move onto the next exercise. Once you’ve completed each exercise allow yourself a rest period, for example 60 seconds and then complete the circuit again. You can repeat this process for as many times as you like. 

FOR REPS & SETS

You can perform each exercise in a more traditional weight training approach for reps and sets. There are a few ways in which you could do this, firstly, you could perform just 1 set of each exercise, so let’s use 12 reps as an example, and you would perform an exercise 12 times and then move onto the next exercise. Once you’ve completed each exercise rest for 30-60 seconds and then complete the circuit again, and repeat this process as many times as you like.
Secondly you could set yourself a number of reps and number of sets, let’s say 12 reps x 3 sets with a rest period of 30 seconds for example. Here you would perform the exercise 12 times with a rest period of 30 seconds in between before performing the exercise for 12 reps again. You would repeat the process to total 3 sets and then move on to do the same with the next exercise. 


SUPERSETS

Combining two of the exercises together with no rest period in between. This can be done to work two of the same muscle group, for example two lower body exercises such as squats followed by lunges, which can lead to quicker fatigue or opposing muscle groups such as a lower body exercise followed by an upper body exercise which still allows the opposing muscle group time to rest. 

AMRAP

This stands for 'as many rounds as possible', and is quite simply that! Set yourself a number of reps and a workout total time, for example 15 reps and 20 minutes, and that’s it, complete 15 reps of each exercise with as little rest as you can between each one and complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes. This is a great workout to use to set yourself a challenge and improve on your previous results.

MOVEMENT FLOW

Combining all of or a number of the exercises into a movement pattern that could be repeated for a number of reps and sets or for time. Which could look something like this: squat, lunge right, lunge left, squat lowering phase, jump the feet back to take plank position, press up and jump feet in to return back to standing, repeat pattern again. This works nicely for stretching as well, flowing from one stretch to the next.



Why not give each workout option a go to find out which you enjoy best, perhaps pick a couple to alternate between each week, it’s good to include variety in your workout routines especially if you’re someone who loses interest quickly.

The exercises we’ve provided can be performed in any order so mix and match as you like, if you find any of the exercises challenging or not challenging enough regress or progress the exercises. An easy way to progress an exercise is to increase the tempo or add load, you may have to get creative if you don’t have any traditional weights at home and utilise home items. Regressing an exercise usually involves adapting the exercise to decrease the speed or load, if you are unsure how to do this there are many online tutorials on YouTube where you can seek further guidance. Do remember it’s important to warm up before a workout, simple exercises like jumping jacks, high knees, marching, running on the spot etc. for 5-10 minutes are great ways to increase your heart rate and get the blood flowing to your muscles preparing yourself for activity! 

 

Exercises


Mountain Climbers

 

In a plank position with hands below your shoulders, legs fully extended, core braced, bring one knee towards your chest and then extend back to plank position. Repeat on the opposite side, alternating between each leg, pick up the pace to a run tempo if you can, maintaining that plank position throughout. Try to resist pushing your bottom towards the sky or pushing your body backwards so your hands become in front of you.


Bear Crawls

Starting on your hands and knees, with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips, tuck your toes under your feet and lift your knees just off the ground, keep a straight back and avoid sticking your bottom in the air. If you’re a beginner to this exercise just practice holding this position statically for now and really focus on engaging your core and remembering to breathe. Once you’ve mastered this, move the position by moving one hand and the opposite foot forward, keeping the back straight and your knees close to the floor, repeat on the opposite side. Try to avoid rotating and swinging the body as you lift each limb. If you have the space you can continue moving forwards, however if you’re tight on space you can perform the crawl forward and back.


Plank

 

There are a variety of different plank variations but here we demonstrate the traditional plank on elbows and straight armed. Begin lying on the floor face down and place your elbows or hands under your shoulders, tuck your toes under your heels, brace your core and push your weight up keeping your head, shoulders, hips, knees and toes aligned. Really think about squeezing every inch of your body and holding that position.


Press Ups

Lying on the floor face down place your hands either side of your chest, tuck your toes under your heels and push up similar to a plank position. Brace your core and lower your chest towards the ground, keeping the elbows close to the body and your hips level with your shoulders. Try not to dip your head towards the floor, focus on your body moving as one. Drive your palms through the ground to return to the starting plank position. If you are unable to perform a full press up, this can be done on your knees or standing against a wall, the same principles apply.


Tricep Dips

Sitting on the edge of your chair, place your hands close to your hips and grip the edge of the chair. Place your feet out in front of you with heels to the floor, taking your weight in your hands shimmy your bottom forwards and off the chair, keep your arms extended but avoid locking the elbows. Keep facing forward and lower your bottom towards the ground bending at the elbows to between 45 and 90 degrees ensure your elbows do not flare out and avoid shrugging your shoulders. Pressing your palms into the chair straighten your arms, again without locking at the elbows, to return to the starting position.


Lunges

Lunges can be performed in a variety of ways, reverse lunges, forward lunges, side lunges, you get the idea! The principles are similar though, stand with your feet hip width apart, take one leg and step in the direction you wish to perform the lunge, it’s worth noting reverse lunges are kinder on the knees. Ensure your hip, knee and ankle remain aligned as you lower your back knee towards the ground. Engage your core to ensure your body remains upright and balanced. Drive through the front heel to return to standing. You can target different areas of the lower body if you experiment with the direction of the lunge and your stance so play around.


Sumo Squats

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, externally rotate at the hips so your feet are directing outwards in a position that is comfortable for you. Initiate the movement by hinging at the hips and bending at the knees ensuring they remain aligned with your toes, keep your spine neutral and chest open, lower your bottom towards the ground. Try to avoid leaning forward, this may mean not lowering quite so deep, think about engaging your core during the lowering phase and squeezing your glutes as you reverse the movement to return back to standing. An easy way to regress this exercise is to add a chair, lower yourself to the chair and then return to standing. An easy way to progress this exercise is to add a weight or jump as you rise after the lowering phase.


Seated Pistol Squats

Standing directly in front of a chair with your feet parallel, lift one leg off the floor and extend in front of you hovering above the floor. Keeping your body upright, bend your standing knee and lower your bottom towards the chair keeping the leg in front of you off of the floor. To return to standing drive your heel through the floor and squeeze your glutes.


Bulgarian Split Squats

This exercise is another where depending on your stance you can target different muscles. The closer you are to the chair the more quad focused this exercise will be, further away from the chair will target your glutes and hip flexors more so. Play around with the distance and decide where you want to feel the burn! Once you’ve set the distance of the chair, stand with your feet hip width apart and place one foot lightly on the chair behind you. Keeping your chest upright and your hips facing forwards drop your body towards the floor, as you bend the standing knee keep it aligned with your hip and toes. Ensure the raised foot is not taking too much weight, this is there to provide balance. Drive the force back through the standing foot, squeezing the glutes to return back to the starting position.


Kneeling to Low Squat

From a kneeling upright position bring one foot forward and place directly in front of you creating a 90 degree angle at the knee, drive your weight through the heel, squeeze your glutes and lift your other foot forward as you did the previous, ensuring your feet are hip width apart bringing yourself to a low squat position. From this position push your weight through the second foot and return the first foot behind you to kneel, ensure your core is engaged to remain upright and lift the second foot to bring behind and return to kneeling. Repeat alternating between beginning with your right and left foot.


Glute Bridges

There are a number of ways you can perform a glute bridge. Here we demonstrate on a bench but this can easily be done on the floor. Sitting against the bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, lean back against the bench and lift your hips towards the ceiling pushing your heels through the floor (ensure your toes maintain contact with the floor) and squeezing the glutes, to bring your knees to a 90 degree angle to create a ‘bridge’, avoid arching your back. Hold at this position for a few seconds and then lower your bottom towards the ground, to hover an inch or so above and repeat the movement from this position.


Step Ups

Either using a step or a chair, stand with your feet hip width apart and raise one knee to place your foot on the step or chair and drive your weight through the foot raising yourself to lift the other leg to step on. Then lifting your first foot off of the step or chair bend your standing knee to lower your foot towards the ground, engage your core to maintain an upright position, lift your remaining foot off the chair and lower back down to standing position. Alternate between starting with each foot.


Dead Bug

Lying on your back, lift your arms and legs straight up in the air, as if you were a ‘dead bug’. Brace your core and avoid arching your back whilst you lower opposing arm and leg under control towards the ground so that your hand and foot hover just above, before reversing the movement to return to the starting position. Repeat alternating sides. If at first you struggle with co-ordination of the movement simply focus on holding your arms in position and lowering the legs and then practice vice versa before putting the two together. An easy way to regress this exercise is to bend the knees.