If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet, this article could be just what you’re looking for!
For many people (including myself), the Christmas and New Year festivities involved excess food and drink with little or zero exercise.
Yesterday was the first day back in the gym for me, for nearly 2 weeks.
I am a creature of habit. I need the structure and set gym times to keep me on track.
Without my local gym I couldn’t possibly keep fit or build muscle.. (could I?).
Does this sound familiar?
Well here’s the thing..we don’t actually need the structure and military timings of a gym or our step classes, boxercise, ‘bums and tums’, body-pump, body-burn, (you get the idea), to achieve our fitness goals.
Sure the gym has equipment we don’t have at home, and there are occasionally 1 or 2 lycra-clad beauties (or buff men for you ladies) to brighten up our day. But it doesn’t have to be the Holy Grail for exercise.
Time to Think Outside The Box Gym
So many of us sit at a desk all day and may only have 30-40 minutes to workout.
There are also times such as holiday periods, work schedules, having a cold or virus, and let’s be honest – days when you just can’t be arsed to go to the gym!
A break from the gym and having an office based job doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your fitness and actually improve it.
Daily Micro Workouts
Now I’m not claiming ownership to this type of exercise, but I sure haven’t seen much written about it as an actual fitness model.
This type of workout could revolutionize the way people exercise and could have truly massive benefits.
Micro workouts can be incorporated as an addition to your gym routine, or as a replacement to going to the gym altogether.
RADICAL BABY! But hear me out..
Here’s how it works..
Throughout your day you will engage in a series of exercises that may consist of just 1 rep or a few seconds of exercise.
The time you spend exercising will be very quick, but over the course of the day you might do 50 reps or 30-40mins worth of training.
Micro workouts can be done in your jim-jams, your best work suit, a uniform, or in a pair of overalls.
You can even do them at home in the buff, if you’re the liberated type!
The point is, you do not need to visit a gym to get in great shape.
From the time you get out of bed to when you get back into bed, there are dozens of fun and easy micro exercises you can do.
You’ll be amazed at the variety of exercises you can do in virtually any environment (even in a boring meeting).
Here’s a few to get you thinking:
Squats. These are extremely simple to do and engage several muscle groups at once. Start the morning as soon as you get out of bed with 10 squats.
Complete another 4 sets throughout the day. If you feel embarrassed doing them at your desk, do them when you have a bathroom break.
Calf Raises. While you’re cleaning your teeth, try standing on one leg and do 10 calf raises on each leg. This works your calf muscles, the stabilizer muscles around your ankles and your core. Repeat twice. Morning and night = 80 calf raises!
Push-ups. An old classic that is perfect at working your chest, shoulders, arms and core. Again, you could easily knock out a set of 50 throughout the day, even if you can only manage a few at a time.
You could do 10 before you go to work, 10 before you go to bed and 30 during the day.
Pull-ups. This one will probably be confined to the home, unless you’re lucky enough to have a pull-up bar at work! I have my pull-up bar above my office door at home. Almost every time I leave or enter the room, I will do 1 or 2 pull ups.
Here’s me (in my jim-jams!) with my pull-up bar.
Twenty to thirty pull-ups over the course of a non gym-going day, is pretty good going.
It is a great exercise to work your back, shoulders and biceps.
Plank. The plank is a great core/abs exercise that you can do on any flat surface. You probably only need to do this once for a minute or so, and it doesn’t have to be every day. Try varying it with side planks and single leg raise planks.
Crab Hip Hold
Just after I wrote this article I found this neat little exercise from Men’s Health that fits nicely as a micro exercise you can do at home or at work.
You just need a bench or chair to do it and it works a whole host of muscles including your core, hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
It’s quite a hardcore exercise and you don’t need to hold it for long in order to feel the intense pain it working.
If you find it too tough, widen your arms and keep your hands in a neutral position.
Tummy Tuck. Work on your core and posture throughout the day. Even if you’re sat at a desk or in a meeting, try pulling your abs in nice and tight. Do this for 30 seconds each time, as many as you can.
It isn’t a physically demanding exercise and nobody will even know you’re doing it. It will work wonders on your stomach and core muscles.
I stopped doing regular cardio exercise a while ago. Long, boring runs and hours on a spin bike don’t do it for me and may actually be counter-productive to your training efforts.
High intensity training (HIT) is a much better option. But even that may require more time than you can spare.
Here are a few micro cardio suggestions:
Stair Sprints. First of all ALWAYS take the stairs going up, rather than taking a lift or the escalator.
If you need to use the stairs when you’re at home or work, sprint up them as quick as you can or take them 2 or 3 steps at a time.
Do these regularly throughout the day and you will incorporate some decent HIT into your routine.
Here’s a great video that shows how much fun taking the stairs can be:
Cycle to Work. If you have the luxury of being within cycle distance to your work, then jump on your bike.
It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, increases your metabolism and burns calories. It will save you money on fuel and will help tone your entire body.
Play Hard. If you have kids, have running races with them. Give them a head start (or vise versa!) and sprint as hard as you can. You enjoy quality time with the kids and you are both keeping fit.
Quick, Fun and Easy
The idea behind all these micro exercises is to make them quick and easy to do, and make them fun – like the video above shows.
Try to get family, friends and work colleagues to participate as well.
You could compare micro exercises, come up with more of your own ideas, and even make it a bit of a competition.
Set Yourself Mini Challenges
How about this for an example.. when you’re watching TV, instead of staring zombie-like through the commercials, use them to do some micro exercises.
You could get through 10 push-ups, 10 squats and a minute of the plank during a 1 hour show!
Get yourself a pair of cheap hand grip resistance strengtheners from Amazon, and when The X-Factor your favorite show is on, you could sit comfortably while strengthening your grip, hands and forearms.
I’ve got one of those Power Balls and by using it 3 or 4 times a week it has vastly improved the grip on my dead-lift.
A strong grip will improve many of your lifting exercises, especially the dead-lift and shrugs. It will also help in team sports and has general lifestyle benefits.
Once you start thinking of micro exercises outside the gym, there are all sorts of ways to incorporate fitness into your day.
- The gym is great
- You don’t need a gym
- Micro exercises are an excellent way to keep fit and build muscle
- Make it fun and challenging
- Involve friends and family if you can
- Do it on your own and set yourself mini goals
- It can be as hard or easy as you want to make it
- Think ‘outside the gym’ and come up with your own micro workouts
We live in a fast paced world of fast technology and less free time than we would like. As a result our health is suffering and we are getting fatter.
Putting your dietary habits aside for a moment, just these simple lifestyle adjustments could make a massive difference to the quality of your health and fitness.
Don’t let the lack of a gym membership or having non-gym days stop you from exercising.
Small micro exercises throughout the day are probably a more effective way of exercising anyway!
If you can do them AND go to the gym, then more power to ya.
If it all just sounds like too much, do just 1 micro exercise today. Just the act of performing 1 simple exercise or rep, will change your mindset and you’re more than likely to start doing more.
I’d love to hear if you have any micro workout suggestions, drop your comments below.