If you’re struggling to work out as we go into autumn and winter, these are some simple but effective exercises you can do from the sofa.
All of a sudden, the mornings are dark and the evenings are freezing. While that’s good news for those of us who embrace seasonal cosiness, summoning the motivation for an early morning workout in the dark can feel like a major struggle in the colder months. Pulling the covers over your head for a few more minutes’ sleep before work feels like a far preferable option. And by the time we finish work, heading back out into the dusk to a fitness class or the gym can seem like a slog too.
So while it might be difficult to get up and going, we don’t want to lose our fitness or strength during the winter. How, then, can we maintain or build strength without making ourselves vulnerable to seasonal excuses?
Heading into winter, you might want to concentrate on micromovement –small, manageable chunks of exercise. It’s all about moving any way you can, rather than concentrating on doing the most. Sure, you might not get a PB on your sofa, but you might just find your motivation growing enough to head back into the cold or to get back into the gym.
Micromovement you can do from the comfort of home
Stefanie Williams, fitness expert and founder of WeGLOW app, tells Stylist: “Life is busy and hectic and it’s rare that any of us can consistently dedicate a whole hour to doing a workout everyday.” Particularly during the colder months, Williams adds that “some movement each day is better than no movement at all and how we move should be flexible depending on how our body feels, the time we have and what we enjoy”. In turn, this stops exercise from feeling like a chore and makes it an adaptable part of our lifestyle.
When it comes to micromovement at home, we’ve found out the set exercises two fitness experts recommend incorporating into your daily routine for achievable workout wins. And, the best bit is they can be done from the comfort of your sofa.
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“This is great for activating the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings”, says Alison Crawford, co-founder and head coach of Factory Weights PT Academy and 2022 global CrossFit champion.
- Perch on the end of your armchair in a seated squat position
- Put your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keep the chest up, your eyes on the TV and from there stand up
- Hinge from the hips backwards and gently touch the armchair with your tailbone
- Don’t sit down fully, just touch and then stand up
“Superb for activating the glute muscles, these exercises can be done while watching TV,” suggests Crawford.
- Lie flat on your back with your arms by your side and palms down
- From there bend your knees, keeping the feet flat on the floor, a hip width apart
- Now, slowly lift your hips towards the ceiling and concentrate on squeezing your glutes
- Once you have a nice straight line from the knees, hips and shoulders, hold that position and continue to squeeze those glutes, before holding for 3 seconds
- Then slowly return to the starting position and repeat
Dead bug crunch
“Use this for strengthening your abdominals and pelvic floor,” recommends Crawford.
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and heels on the floor
- Extend your arms behind your head and think about squeezing your lower back into the floor
- Exhale and bring your knees towards your chest whilst lifting the shoulders from the ground towards the ceiling
- Reach toward your toes with your hands in one simultaneous movement
- Think about a controlled squeezing action as opposed to a quick jerky movement
“Activating and strengthening your upper arms, you can do these while sitting down,” says Crawford.
- Sit in a chair and grip the front edges
- Shift your butt forward until it is hovering just off the chair and shift your feet forward to form a 90-degree angle at the knees
- Straighten your arm to achieve your starting position and from there lower your body until you achieve a 90-degree angle at the elbows.
- Squeeze back to the top
Bulgarian split squats
Williams explains: “Use the edge of your bed to rest your back leg against.”
- Stand tall with your back to your bed
- Maintain a tight core and flat back as you carefully place your left foot on top of the bed behind you with the toes facing down. Ensure the distance between yourself and the bed is not too great, otherwise the movement becomes more akin to a lunge than a split squat. Place your hands on either side of your head
- Bend the front knee as you drop the back knee, driving your hips back and down. Inhale as you do so. Ensure the front knee does not go over the toes and that the whole of the front foot remains in contact with the floor
- Allow your thigh to come parallel with the floor. Pause, then slowly return to the start position by extending the knee, but be sure not to lock it out at the top
- Perform all the required reps on one leg before changing to the other
Lying leg raises
“These will target your abs,” says Williams.
- Lie face up, with your back flat on an exercise mat, your legs extended out in front of you and locked together and your arms by your sides
- Proceed to lift your legs from the floor, keeping them extended and locked together until your legs are at a 90-degree angle to your torso
- Hold for a moment
- Then lower back down slowly to the start position
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Single leg stand
“Great for balance, a single leg stand also helps with core stability and strengthening legs,” Crawford says.
- Simply stand on one leg and raise your knee to hip height
- Maintain this position for one minute concentrating on breathing and remaining tight through your core
- Change sides
- Repeat 3 times on each side
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As an exercise from home, this “really challenges the glutes, core, legs and pelvic floor,’ suggests Crawford.
- Stand facing away from a wall
- Place your back against the wall and walk your feet out in front until the knees are at a 90-degree angle
- Use your lower back to create pressure against the wall
- Holdthis position for 90 seconds (if you can)
- Repeat 3 times
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