At Home Fitness

I’m sure everybody reading this has seen plenty of articles/blogs about exercising at home.  I’ve decided to write a quick post showing a few of my favorite exercises using my very simple equipment.  You don’t need a fancy home gym; you only need a small area of open floor space, a sturdy laundry basket, and a couple dumbbells (optional).

There is an endless amount of exercises you can do at home so feel free to experiment.  Just Google “exercises at home” or something similar and you will see what I am talking about.  I took a few pictures of myself while exercising today to better illustrate a few of my favorite at home exercises.

To start, grab your laundry basket/chair/couch and do some simple step-ups.  Step onto the platform with one leg and bring the other up toward your chest.  Step back down onto the ground and repeat.  I won’t tell you how many repetitions to do because that is a based on personal preference, but I do about 3 sets of 15-20.

A simple step-up.

Lunges are another great at home work out for the lower body.  Simply step forward with one leg and lower your self toward the floor.  Push back up once your knee is almost touching the floor.  Do the same with the other leg.  Again, I do about 3 sets of 20 reps (10 each leg).

Lunges can be done with or without dumbbells.

Next, I’ll show a few upper body workouts.  I like to begin with dumbbell chest press.  Again I utilize my laundry basket for this exercise.  Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lie down with your back on the basket and your feet on the ground, then lower the dumbbells until your elbows are at about 90 degrees, or a little further, and press them back up.  I do about 3 sets of 10-15, depending on the weight being used.

Using the laundry basket again for dumbbell chest press.

Next, stay in the same place and switch to a dumbbell fly.  This requires that you lower the dumbbells out to your sides, and pull them back up to center.  Again, 3 sets of 10-15 for me depending on weight.

Dumbbell chest fly.

Finally, I use a laundry basket/chair/couch/bed to do some triceps dips.  Place your hands on the edge of a solid surface and outstretch your legs.  Lower your body down until your elbows are at about 90 degrees and press yourself back up.  I prefer to do about 3 or 4 sets of 25-30.

Using the laundry basket for dips.

There are so many more exercises you can do, but I just wanted to illustrate some of my favorites.  As I said, you only need the simplest of equipment to work out at home.  I also included dumbbell curls, dumbbell shrugs, body weight squats, and ab exercises to finish off a short workout today.

Personal Challenge

As I have mentioned before, I used to cross-country ski competitively.  Although I have skied a few races since then, I have not taken any of them too seriously.  As you can probably guess, my physical conditioning isn’t what it used to be, but I have decided to challenge myself this weekend.  I just signed up for a 25 kilometer ski race to take place on Saturday.

The last time I skied in this event in 2007.

I know the course very well as I have skied this race, and others on the same trails, numerous times.  I also spent many hours training on these trails during my high school years.  The course is challenging both physically and mentally.  There are hills that seem too steep to climb, and climbs that seem like they will never end.  This is an opportunity to push my mind and body, and to prove to myself that I am still capable of such things.  This will also help prepare me for my goal of skiing in a 50km race next season.

The biggest issue I face is my lack of time on snow this year.  Snowfal has been minimal this winter and this has had an effect on my ski time.  I have only been on the trails about 5 times this winter, and never longer than half an hour.  I estimate that it will take me about 1.5 hours to complete the course on Saturday, so you can bet I will be drained.

My result (time, not place) will give me a baseline for next year’s event.  I will use it as motivation to stick to some sort of a training program throughout the long offseason.  So not only is this a challenge on this Saturday, but also a challenge to myself to improve over the course of an entire year.  Wish me luck!

Shaping Up

I have always considered myself to be a fairly healthy person, although recently I have let that slip a bit.  During the first semester of the year I spent a good deal of time in the gym and grinding out miles on the pavement.  Since then I have had a few medical issues, and become a bit lazy.  As anybody who has gone through this before would know, finding the motivation to get back into a healthy routine can be difficult.  I have some tips, here are a few things that have helped me recently.

1. Determine your goals; set goals to achieve and a time frame.  Don’t be too strict or obsessed, but having realistic goals can really help to keep you on track.

2. Look to your past, remember when you were in the best shape of your life and how you felt.  Strive to regain that feeling (its not about how you looked, but how you felt).

I used to cross country ski competitively, so one of my goals is to ski a 50km race next winter.

3. Draw inspiration from friends or family; lots of people have gone through this before and had success.  Also, you may have friends who are willing to exercise/diet with you which can help both of you achieve your goals.

4. Look to your favorite athlete/celebrity; this may seem silly, but many athletes/celebs have workout plans or guidelines available on the internet

5. Don’t overexert yourself, especially early on; there is no better way to demotivate than to try to do too much.  Base your daily workout on how you feel that day; if you’re sore, take it down a notch.

6. Plenty of rest; without resting your body can’t rebuild itself after exercising.

7. Set guidelines, but not a strict diet; strict dieting is another sure-fire to become demotivated.  Try to stick to healthy guidelines, but if you slip up sometimes, so what?

I’m sure you have seen similar tips to these before but it never hurts to get a reminder.  I will be following these guidelines and hoping to achieve my goals by graduation.  From there I will set new goals and continue to do so.  Best of luck to everyone!