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Exercise Hacks

Summer Exercise Hacks

Over the holiday season you are likely to find that you have a little less time for routine and a lot more time for indulging in all the wrong ways.

So there is no better time to look at some simple, free, and go-anywhere’ exercise tips that can help to keep you in the shape you’re in,  OR help you on your way to those new years resolutions to ‘do more exercise’.

There are various ways to modify each demonstration, depending on whether you are new to the whole exercise game … or you just want to maintain and develop your strength while your regular routine takes a holiday.

These simple, no cost exercises are bought to you by Exercise Physiologist Elizabeth Calleja of the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District. 

NOTE: While they are able to be adapted to suit most fitness levels, please remember to assess your own ability to do these exercises safely in relation to your overall health. If in doubt, check with your healthcare provider first.

Exercise Hack #1   SUPERMAN

(alternate arm /leg raises = core strength in your back)

  • Use a mat or towel on a flat surface
  • Start in a kneeling position. Knees shoulder width apart and directly under your hips
  • Lean forward place hands flat on the floor shoulder width apart and directly under shoulders.
  • Maintain a flat back and pull your belly in toward your spine.
  • Raise your right leg out behind you and then raise your left arm. Hold for 2 seconds.
  • Return to starting point then repeat with opposite arm and leg.
  • Repeat 10 times on each side. This is your ‘repetitions’.
  • Rest for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2-3 times. This is your ‘sets’ .

To make it EASIER

  • If you have painful knees and can’t kneel on them , lie on the floor on your belly, with arms straight above the head. Lift alternate arms and legs from the floor.
  • Alternatively, if you find this exercise too hard on your back, you can do either arms OR legs.

To make it HARDER

  • Use a large exercise ball ( Fitball or Swissball)
  • From kneeling position, place the ball under your belly and lean over the ball so that your hands are on the floor. Repeat instructions above.  

#2 SQUATS

(can be done with or without a chair)

with chair

  • stand with feet shoulder width apart 
  • lower your buttocks onto the chair and rise again
  • repeat 10 times

without chair

  • stand with feet shoulder width apart
  • lower your buttocks toward the floor into an imaginary sitting position
  • squeezing your buttocks, lift and stand upright
  • repeat 10 times

with either technique, complete 2-3 sets then follow with a 

#9 QUAD STRETCH

  • stand with feet shoulder width apart and hold onto a solid surface 
  • keep knees together, lift your right foot behind you, bending your knee and holding the back of your shoe or the front of your ankle. stand tall and feel the stretch
  • you should feel a gentle pull in the front of your thigh
  • hold for 20-30 seconds
  • repeat on the opposite leg

#3 FRONT RAISE

this exercise can be done gently and using household items such as drink bottles or tin cans, OR with hand weights. 

  • stand with arms beside you, holding your chosen weights
  • slowly raise one arm until level with your shoulder
  • lower arm to your side
  • repeat using alternate arm 
  • complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

#4 BICEP CURLS

this exercise can be done gently and using household items such as drink bottles or tin cans, OR with hand weights. 

  • stand with arms beside you, holding your chosen weights
  • bend both arms,  raising weights toward shoulders with palms facing up
  • lower arms slowly to resting position
  • repeat 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions 

#5 LYING KNEE RAISES 

(for core strength)

  • lie on flat surface using a towel or mat for comfort
  • to work your core (tummy) muscles, draw your belly in toward your spine while maintaining regular breathing (if you feel like you are holding your breath, you have taken your belly back too far). Have your hands behind your spine so that you can feel your back flatten onto them.
  • bending your hips and knees, bring your legs up to make a table top shape
  • keeping your knees bent slowly lower one foot toward the ground, then lift again returning it to the table top position
  • repeat on the other leg
  • aim to maintain your tummy position (drawn in toward your spine) throughout this exercise
  • complete 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions

to make it EASIER

  • have both feet on the ground with knees bent
  • slide one foot away from your bottom, continuing to draw your belly back toward your spine
  • return to start point then repeat on other leg

to make it HARDER

  • start with legs in above (table top) position
  • as you lower your foot, straighten your leg out and hover above the floor
  • return to centre and repeat on other leg
  • to increase difficulty even further, you can try this exercise with both legs together

**NOTE: This exercise is designed to strengthen your core abdominal muscles, if you feel discomfort in your lower back, reduce the difficulty.

#6 PUSH UPS 

  • find a stable surface and a chair or bench, use a towel or mat on the floor for comfort
  • kneeling with knees together, lean forward and place both hands on the chair or bench
  • bending your elbows and keeping your back straight, lower your body toward the chair or bench
  • push your body away again, returning to the start position 
  • repeat 10 times
  • rest for 30 seconds then repeat the set

to make it EASIER

  • this can be done standing against a wall (wall press), or a kitchen bench

to make it HARDER

  • on the floor as shown above 
  • starting on your belly , with legs outstretched, place your toes on the floor and push your body up with your hands until your arms are straight (keep elbows soft). 
  • keep your back straight and tummy tight 
  • bend your arms and lower your body back toward the floor

after completing your push ups -add  #9 KNEELING CHEST STRETCH this stretch helps to relax the chest muscles 

  • kneeling (or standing)  bring your straightened arms behind you
  • interlock your fingers and stretch arms straight backward pushing chest forward 

#7 CALF RAISES

  • start by holding onto something stable (unless you have great balance) 
  • keeping legs straight, raise heels off the floor
  • lower heels back toward the floor
  • complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

#8 CALF STRETCHES

  • standing tall, step one foot out in front of the other 
  • ensure toes on both feet are pointing forward
  • lean toward your front knee
  • keep the heel of your rear foot firm on the ground 
  • hold for 30 seconds
  • repeat on opposite foot 
Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District