A break from packing lunches; great! No more after school rushing around; bring it! Homework wars finished for the year; hallelujah!
Regular workouts at the gym; on hold until September.
While it’s great to have the kids home for the summer (or at least the first few weeks of it…), for many parents school holidays mean a major disruption to their fitness routines. School age children may not be old enough to be left on their own while mom or dad goes to the gym. If your fitness facility has child-minding, it’s usually limited to younger kids and if your kids are anything like mine, it’s the last place they want to spend an hour of their summer holiday!
What’s a fit chick (or fit dude) to do?
Make your backyard (or carport or porch or deck or playroom; see below) your gym for the summer. Set aside 30 minutes of your day. Give your kids something to do that doesn’t require your attention, grab a bottle of water and lace up your running shoes. All you need is a pair (or two) of moderate weight dumbbells (8-15 pounds, depending on how strong you are) and a yoga mat (if you don’t like to sit on the hard ground).
Here’s a minimal equipment workout that’s guaranteed to get your heart rate up and your sweat on. The key is to maintain intensity from start to finish while minimizing your rest time between exercises. Make sure you stop for water breaks, particularly if the weather is warm.
Begin each workout with 5 to 7 minutes of range of motion movements (arm swings, leg kicks, shoulder rolls, ankle circles) and light calisthenics (butt kickers, jumping jacks, one foot hops, light jogging in place) to warm your muscles up, prepare your joints for the work to come and elevate your heart rate slightly.
Perform 10 to 16 repetitions of each exercise in rapid succession. Rest for 2 minutes at the end of the entire circuit and repeat. New exercisers should begin with 1 circuit, more advanced exercisers may perform 2 or 3 circuits. Check out the demo video (made by me!) if you need help interpreting my written instructions.
- Dumbbell squat presses; feet hip width apart, weights held above your shoulders, palms may face your ears or forward; mix it up! squat back, knees behind toes and push up through the heels to standing while simultaneously pressing the weights up over your head
- Pushups from toes; if you can’t do 10 to 16, stop one short of a face plant; avoid the temptation to perform pushups from your knees, removing your lower core and glutes from the exercise
- Dumbbell bent over row; palms facing your sides, lead with your elbows like you’re starting a motor, both arms at once
- Prisoner squat jumps; hands behind your head to increase core involvement, land light and low, explode back up
- Alternating forward lunges plus dumbbell bicep curls; aim for 90 degree angles in both knees at the bottom of the movement; bicep curls can be palm up or palm in aka “hammer curls”
- Walking plank*; start in a plank position, on toes and forearms; walk left forearm up to hand, walk right forearm up to hand, walk left hand down to forearm, walk right hand down to forearm, one rep completed; perform half of your reps with one arm leading then switch to the other arm for the remainder * if you absolutely can’t do this one, just hold a plank, on forearms and toes, for as long as you can; keep your core tight and back straight
- One arm dumbbell swings; start with feet shoulder width apart; hold dumbbell in one hand, long end hanging down; bend at the knees and reach back between your legs, with an almost straight arm; straighten legs, push hips forward and use the lower body momentum to swing the weight up to chin level; lower and repeat with some intensity; switch arms half way through your reps
- Side lunges plus dumbbell reach; start with feet hip width apart, one dumbbell in each hand; with right leg, step out to the right, drop your butt back into a squat, right knee bent at 90 degrees, left leg straight; reach dumbbells down to touch the floor on either side of your right foot; using left leg, pull body back to starting position; perform half of your reps to one side, then switch sides for the remainder
- V sit with long arm dumbbell rotation; sit down (finally!), leaning back into a V-sit; heels on the ground, shoulders away from your ears, tummy held tight; hold a single dumbbell in both hands, straighten arms (as long as you can) and rotate your torso until weight is almost touching the ground at your side; use your abs to pull yourself back to the starting position; alternate sides until you’ve done all your reps
- Lateral bounds; looks like speed skating; core tight, stay low, push off with side of foot; one bound in each direction equals one rep
Finish your workout with a short cool down (you can repeat your warm up range of motion exercises or just walk around the yard) and some slow stretches. Stretching is not rocket science; pay attention to the parts of your body that feel tight and move them into an elongated (stretched) position. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 s.
If you’re just starting an exercise program, start with 3 workouts a week. Alternate training days with rest, or active living days (that means you should feel free to walk, bike, swim or paddle on your ‘off’ days). More experienced exercisers might try for 4 or 5 workouts a week; 2 or 3 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off, perhaps.
Are you in? Feel free to share your progress with me here or on Facebook (Tamara Grand; I accept all friends!).
How do you plan to stay fit this summer?