Monday, September 28, 2020

Improvising Your Home Workouts With Common Household Objects

With the COVID-19 pandemic still wrecking havoc throughout the world, and with most commercial gyms and fitness facilities operating with severe capacity limitations and restrictions, more and more people are now turning to in-home workouts to meet their fitness needs.

In fact, home workouts have become so popular in recent times that many stores carrying home-based fitness equipment have reported soaring sales, with even some having sold-out many of their most popular home fitness items! 

For those of us who could not get our hands on any commercial home fitness equipment - either due to the current insane demand, or because of one's own budgetary constraints - fret not. 

In this post, we're going to look at various common household objects found right within our homes that could easily be used to substitute traditional fitness tools, or even used as standalone fitness props by themselves.

Without further ado, the following are some great alternatives and substitutes that you may consider using for your home training needs without spending a cent:

A. Dining Chair


Image of a dining chair used for exercise

A dining-room chair is a fantastic piece of furniture that can easily serve as a workout bench for key bodyweight exercises such as bench dips, incline push-ups, knee tucks, supported squats, chair planks etc. Just make sure that you choose one that is solid and sturdy enough to support your body weight.

B. Laundry Baskets

Image of a laundry basket used for exercise
Your humble laundry basket - when fully-filled with dirty clothes or other improvised items to weigh it down - make a great fitness tool too! You can perform traditional strength-and-conditioning exercises such as: sumo deadlifts, bent-over rows, loaded carries or even improvised sled pushes and prowler drags with it!

C. Bath Towel

Image of a bath towel used for exercising

Practically everyone has a bath towel at home. When folded and placed on a smooth flooring, you can easily use it as an exercise glider for movements such as: plank slides, hamstring curls, reverse lunges etc. On top of it, you can also roll it up length-wise, anchor it around a solid piece of furniture or home structure and use it for towel rows, arm curls, chest flyes and other bodyweight suspension exercises.

D. Soup Cans / Mineral Water Bottles

Image of mineral water bottles used in exercise

Even if you don't have a single dumbbell at home, you can always count on using common household items such as: water bottles, canned goods, cylindrical food containers etc. as dumbbell replacements for your strength and resistance training needs. When used as improvised dumbbells, these items allow you to basically do any and every exercise that a dumbbell can do - from overhead presses to upright rows, from bicep curls to lateral raises.

E. Backpacks

Image of a backpack used in exercises

An empty backpack may not weigh much, but when filled with heavy items such as a pile of books or soup cans, can be easily transformed into a formidable workout tool! Just like a weighted vest, a filled backpack can be used as an external resistance to exercises such as: squats, traveling lunges, step-ups, chin-ups and even bear crawls.

F. Steps / Stairs

Image of a home stairway that can be used for workouts

Any flight of steps or stairs right within your home compound can be used for your cardio workouts as well as for a variety of conditioning work. From stair climbs to stair lunges, from stair hops to stair crawls, stair exercises provide plenty of options and variety to one's workout routine even if you can no longer venture outdoors for your long runs or bike rides due to the ongoing pandemic or simply because of bad weather.

G. Detergent Bottles / Milk Jugs

Image of a milk jug used for exercising

Single-handle containers such as detergent bottles and milk jugs are excellent for replicating the moves of a commercial-grade kettlebell. With them, you can virtually perform all types of kettlebell exercises and moves such as: swings, cleans, snatches, presses and rows - all within the confines of your home!

H. Walls

Image of a blank wall that can be used for home workouts.

Who says walls have no practical use in an exercise program? Being one of the most accessible items at home, any unobstructed wall in the home can be used for tried-and-tested movements such as: wall push-ups, wall-sits, wall bridges, wall hand-stands and even wall reverse crawls. Game for a wall workout, anyone?

I. Couch


Image of a home couch used for exercising.

Rather than laze on the couch, binge endlessly on Netflix and see your waistline grow, learn to use the couch constructively as an exercise tool to burn calories and to tone-up your entire body. Once you clear your couch of the soft cushions, pillows and other unnecessary fluff, you'll have a solid training platform to perform a whole array of exercises ranging from dips to side planks, from decline push-ups to Bulgarian split squats and more!

J. Broomstick

Image of a broomstick used for exercise workouts.

That broomstick resting in the corner of your storeroom is another inexpensive and versatile tool that can be easily adapted for exercise use. Remove the head of the broom, and you'll have a wooden pole that can be used for specialized core training (replete with all the necessary rotation, twisting and bending moves) as well as a variety of other conditioning and mobility drills.

K. Paper Plates

Image of paper plates used for exercising.
Who ever thought that the disposable paper plates leftover from your previous BBQ or birthday party could be used as sliders and gliders on your home flooring? In fact, for sliding and gliding exercises such as sliding lunges, sliding walk-outs, sliding burpees etc. few items, if any, work better than the lowly paper plates!

L. Crate / Stool 

Image of a low stool used for exercise

A sturdy low stool or a discarded wooden crate in your backyard can also be easily converted into a useful exercise tool for movements such as: step-ups, step-downs, seated knee tucks, bench dips, supported pistol squats etc. Again, please make sure that the stool or crate can support your body weight before attempting any of the above moves!

M. Socks

Image of a pair of old socks used for exercising.

Most people have more socks than they ever need at home. Often tucked away somewhere in the drawers or carelessly strewn around on the floor, socks are omnipresent in almost every home. Rather than discard your unwanted socks into the bin, use them for a variety of sliding and gliding exercises like curtsy lunges, plank jacks, mountain climbers and more!

N. Travel Suitcase / Luggage

Image of a travel suitcase suitable for exercise use.
With the current pandemic, overseas travel and vacations abroad are practically off limits for most people. As such, it makes sense to dust off the cobwebs from your travel suitcase and put it to good use! For an effective and functional workout, load your suitcase with books, magazines and other weighted objects and use it for exercises like: elevated hip thrusts, hop-overs, thrusters, and its very own name-sake - the suitcase carry!

Well, there you have it. A whole list of household objects that could function as alternative fitness gear or exercise tools without costing you a single dime.

In fact, with further imagination, creativity and resourcefulness , the above list could be expanded almost indefinitely.

However, rather than just limit yourself to working-out at home with these improvised household implements, do also feel free to explore other training options and modalities, including: training with just your own body weight, or even venturing outdoors to public parks, beaches, playgrounds etc. to get some outdoor training done!

Some words of caution though. 

Whichever option you choose, make sure that you listen to your body, know your limits, and always exercise in good form and with the correct technique.

When in doubt, do seek the advice of a medical doctor, a trained physiotherapist or a certified personal trainer

Last, but not least, don't forget to ENJOY yourself and have FUN!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Non-Running Cardio Drills For Older Adults And Seniors

Running has been around for a long time and is a popular cardiovascular exercise for many.

However, for some mid-life, older adults and seniors in our midst, running may NOT actually be a suitable exercise nor a viable option for them.

Common reasons cited by those who could not incorporate running into their exercise routines include: "running hurts my knees", "it's too vigorous", "it's so jarring on all my joints" to "it's too boring and monotonous" or perhaps even "my doctor says I should NEVER run at all because of my XYZ medical conditions" etc ...

As valid as many of these reasons are, it does not remove the fact that such individuals are at risk of missing out on an important component of fitness - cardiovascular training - if they shy away from jogging/running and lack any substitute form of cardiovascular exercise for their bodies.

As such, as a senior/older adult exercise specialist, I would usually recommend some alternative form of low-impact cardio exercises that will still give our heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels a good workout - sans the jarring - to replace conventional running/jogging.

The following are some examples of bodyweight cardio/aerobic drills that do not involve any running at all. 

Best of all, they're all low-impact in nature, do not require any special equipment, are super-effective and could be easily carried out at home.

(*Disclaimer: The following examples are for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.)


1) Heel Digs With Chest Press

   
   

Instructions:
  1. Stand tall, with palms by the side of your chest.
  2. Drive your right heel forwards into the ground while simultaneously pressing your palms forward.
  3. Without pausing, draw both your right heel and arms back to the start position.
  4. Repeat the action with your left heel and arms again.
  5. Keep alternating the movement non-stop between your right and left side.

2) Side Taps With Arm Swings

      

Instructions:
  1. Stand tall, with palms crossed at the front of your body.
  2. Extend your right leg out to your side while raising both your arms simultaneously.
  3. Without pausing, draw both your right leg and arms back to the start position.
  4. Repeat the action with your left side.
  5. Keep alternating the movement non-stop, between your right and left sides.

3) Upward Swings


   

Instructions:
  1. Start in a hinge position, with your arms by your side, knees bent, core tight and back flat.
  2. In one smooth action, swing your arms up and rise up on your toes.
  3. Without pausing, lower yourself back to the start position.
  4. Repeat the movement non-stop, moving up and down continuously.

4) Side Squats With Arm Raise

   

   

Instructions:
  1. Stand tall with soft knees, tight core.
  2. In one smooth action, squat to your right while raising your arms to the front.
  3. From the bottom, thrust yourself back up to the start position.
  4. Repeat the movement by squatting to your left next.
  5. Keep moving right-to-left, left-to-right continuously.

5) Alternating Front Jabs

      

Instructions:
  1. Stand tall with soft knees, tight core.
  2. Raise your arms to face level, elbows-bent, in a defensive boxing pose.
  3. In one smooth action, punch out with your right arm while rotating your torso, and driving your right foot forward.
  4. Once your foot contact the ground, rotate back to the start position.
  5. Repeat the movement with your left side now.
  6. Keep alternating jabs continuously.

To get the most out of this low impact cardio routine, do try to perform the moves in circuit training fashion - where you move from one station to another with minimal rest.

Depending on your fitness level, you may wish to start with 30-seconds for each movement, before increasing the time to 45- or even 60-seconds per move as you get fitter.

As for the number of rounds/circuits to be done, once again, it depends on your current fitness. You may start with 1-2 circuits each session, building up to 3-4 circuits or even more as you progress along.

So there we have it, 5 simple, full-body moves that you can use anytime, anywhere you want to get the same aerobic benefits - if not more - as running.

Enjoy and remember to keep moving!

P.S. The above exercise routines are available in the following low-impact aerobic exercise video. Enjoy!

P.S.S. Do feel free to give me your feedback once you have tried the above routine. You can always get in touch with me at either Rick Wong Fitness or Body-By-RickLooking forward to hearing from all of you!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Essential Fitness Movement Patterns For Older Adults And Seniors

As we age, most of us would like to continue staying healthy, active and useful for as long as we live.

In order to do so, and to get the most benefits from our respective exercise programs - regardless whether we're in our 50s, 60s, 70s or even more - it is essential that we include the various foundational movement patterns in our exercise regimes.

These movement patterns are not only essential for our daily physical functions and for healthy living, they are also imperative to our quality of life, and possibly having a major impact on our eventual longevity as well.

The following are the basic movement patterns that the Human Body is capable of doing and which we - regardless of age - should all be actively training for:

1) Squat

Image of a squat movement at start positionimage of a squat movement at finish position.

This is the move that we use every time we transit from a sit to a stand position, and back from a stand to a sit position. It is one of the most basic and common movements that we do every day, from getting in and out of a chair to lifting groceries off the ground. To train for this movement pattern, include squats and their variations into your workouts, utilizing resistance tools such as light dumbbells, resistance bands, medicine balls or simply leveraging on just your own body weight.

2) Lunge

Image of a lunge leading with the right leg.Image of a lunge leading with the left leg
 
This is another functional move that we use daily whenever we walk, climb up and down stairs, and when stretching to pick things up from the floor. To train the muscles used in this move, include a variety of lunging movements in multiple planes throughout your fitness program, adding on appropriate resistance as and when needed or required.

3) Hinge

Image of a standing hinge being performed.Image of a hinge movement at completion.
 
Whenever we do a bend-over action in our daily lives, we are essentially doing a hinge movement. This movement involves our strong posterior chain muscles, which include the back, glutes and hamstrings. For seniors and older adults, this is one of the most important moves to master as it can dramatically reduce one's risk of low back pain and lower back injuries. Exercises such as deadlifts, kettlebell swings and glute bridges all work the muscles involved in the hinge.

4) Push

Image of a vertical push movement at the start positionImage of a vertical push action at the finish position.

Pushing movements are also found commonly in our daily physical activities. They can be divided into 2 main groups: horizontal pushing (eg. pushing a heavy sofa against a wall) and vertical pushing (placing an object onto a high shelf). Resistance exercises such as push-ups and shoulder presses (as seen above) are examples of horizontal and vertical pushing moves respectively.

5) Pull

Image of a horizontal pulling movement at the start position.Image of a horizontal pulling movement at the finish position.

Pulling movements are the exact counter-opposite of pushing movements. They are seen in day-to-day activities like: shutting a door from the inside a car, lifting a suitcase off the ground, or when lifting an object off a high shelf. To work the 'pulling muscles' in this movement pattern, use moves such as bent-over rows, upright rows, pull-ups and pull-downs in your strength-training workouts.

6) Rotate

Image of a rotational move to the rightImage of a rotational move to the left.

Rotation is another common function of the human body. Whenever we reach across our bodies, swing a golf club, wield a tennis racket, or simply twist to a side, we are using the rotational muscles of our core. To work this highly functional move, include some twisting and rotational exercises into your exercise routine.

7) Carry

Image of a carry movement at the start.Image of a carry movement at the finish

Carrying objects from one point to another - whether they are grocery bags, luggage, trash bags, potted plants, toolboxes etc - is also a fundamental part in most of our daily lives. This single movement involves not only our walking gait, but also calls into play our grip strength, core stability and a whole host of other muscle groups. It also challenges our capacity to perform physical work in the real-world. To train our bodies for such loaded carries, include exercises such as farmer's walk, suitcase carry and overhead carry into your workouts.

Conclusion

To stay functionally-fit, healthy and mobile as we age, it is essential that we include the various foundational fitness movement patterns into our workout routines.

For more personalized guidance and individualized instructions on the above, do feel free to contact me at the following:

www.RickWongFitness.com

www,Body-By-Rick.com




Improvising Your Home Workouts With Common Household Objects

With the COVID-19 pandemic still wrecking havoc throughout the world, and with most commercial gyms and fitness facilities operating with se...