By Matt Evans
It's been a while since we've done one of these. No fuss, no frills, no advanced training tools. This Monday morning workout is old school: just a good old-fashioned, equipment-free selection of exercises to tone your upper and lower body in addition to your core abdominal muscles.
Today's workout, from expert PT Jemma Thomas, is a pilates-inspired exercise routine that just requires a little bit of space. It involves a lot of floorwork, so if you're doing this exercise on a hard floor, you might want to lay down a yoga mat.
The best yoga mats are firm but responsive, able to effectively cushion your joints while providing a firm surface to exercise on. Not got one, or is yours a bit knackered? Our best yoga mats guide is a good place to start looking for a replacement.
Thomas has us doing a number of great floor moves which work our entire "trunk" of the body, the core rectus abdominis, or the famous "six-pack", the obliques, and even our arms. Check out the workout in full below:
Follow along to the 25-minute core workout here:
There's a lot to break down here, from the inclusion of pilates-inspired moves, such as lying on our backs and moving our arms and legs simultaneously, using our core to keep us steady and encourage co-ordination, which is instrumental in keeping our brains healthy. However, it's also a great way to exercise our hip and shoulder mobility without placing any excess weight on the joints, making it a great move for older adults looking to maintain their range of motion.
This hip and arm development continues into one of the best moves Thomas includes in her workout: the inchworm, otherwise known as a walk-out. YOu can see a full breakdown of how to do it below:
- Stand with your hands by your sides and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend at the core (the area around your hips, stomach and lower back) until you can place your palms on the floor. Your fingertips should be pointing forwards.
- Keeping your legs straight, walk your hands forward. Try to make small, controlled movements in order to retain your balance. Keep the balls of your feet planted on the floor, not your heel.
- Continue walking your hands forward, making slightly larger movements if your control and balance enables you to. Soon, you should be in the ‘plank’ position used in push-ups.
- Walk your hands out as far as you can – don’t let your hips sag as you do so. When you think you’ve reached your maximum stretch, walk your feet back towards your hands. Take tiny steps, ensuring maintaining control throughout, until you’re back in the bent over position.
- Once you’ve returned to a standing position, that’s one repetition.
This move is one of the best workouts for abs and a wonderful way to exercise the entirety of your "trunk". You need your abdominal muscles and lower back to keep you strong as you walk out to the plank position and to hold you up as you pause. Thomas even recommends throwing a press-up in there, to make sure you're working your arms and holding yourself straight. At full extension, you should be in the press-up position. It also tones your obliques, as they help you hold yourself steady.
However, this move also has you bending at the hip joint, starting off with you touching the floor with straight legs. Stretching these muscles in your hips, quads and hamstrings will improve the range of motion in your hips and legs, helping you stay mobile for longer. It'll also loosen your hips up after an uncomfortable night's sleep, making this workout perfect to do first thing.
As we age, our muscles undergo a process called atrophy, as they waste away and become weaker. They also shorten, limiting our range of motion. A workout like this won't only be a great core exercise and loosen up our joints when we're feeling stiff: it'll also age-proof our body.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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