Work off fat quickly, post Christmas & New Year’s, with these fitness exercises that use your own body resistance weight.
So you overdid the feasting during the Christmas and New Year’s eve festivities, you’re guilty about skipping your regular fitness workout routine, and would like to lose the weight you’ve piled on. There’s no need to rush out and commit to a gym membership or yoga class package in a bid to get back in the fitness game.
While it may be a challenge, it’s possible to ease yourself back into your fitness workout routine to lose weight and get fit again. All you require is a yoga mat, your body’s weight, and these 5 yoga and fitness moves. These are my favourite to do for regular body conditioning. They’re so easy, you can do them at home every day and be done with your fitness workout in 20-minutes!
Flatten Tummy & Define Abdominal Muscles: Crunches & Reverse Crunches
You want that flat tummy, you’ve got to work for it! Combine crunches and reverse crunches to reduce stomach fat and define your abs. They also strengthen the lower back and pelvic muscles.
Begin with crunches. Lay on your yoga mat with your back flat on it, then bend your knees and place your feet flat on the yoga mat. You can either have your hands on the nape of your neck or cross them over your chest. Raise your shoulders and head off the ground and towards the ceiling, feel the engagement in your abs. Keep your shoulders and chest open—do not bring them forward. Reach as high as you can, hold for up to 5 counts, then return slowly onto the yoga mat. Ensure that your breath flows continuously as you do your crunches. Do this for 10-15 reps.
Start with reverse crunches after. Stay laying down on your yoga mat with both knees bent. Keep the knees bent as you raise both feet off the ground, so that the upper legs are perpendicular to the floor while the lower legs are parallel to the floor. Place your hands on the yoga mat, by the side of the hips. Keeping both legs together slowly bring your knees up towards your face, and lift your hips and tailbone off the ground. Ensure that your shoulders and arms always remain flat and in contact with your yoga mat. Then bring your hips and tailbone down but keep your legs in the air. Do this for 10-15 reps.
For an added challenge on the reverse crunch, after you’ve lifted the hips and tailbone off the ground, add a twist to the right as you bring the knees towards your face. On the next lift, twist to the left.
Improve Posture & Coordination: Yoga Cat-Cow Pose
One of the ways to warm the body up before any yoga flow sequence, the cat-cow pose is a stretch that combines the rounding of the back like a cat in cat pose or marjaryasana, and the arching of the back to open the chest in cow pose or bitilasana. This is a gentle yoga pose that strengthens the spine and neck, and stretches the hips, abdomen and back.
To do this pose, get into the yoga table pose. Keep your shoulders directly above your hands, and your hips are directly above your hips. Maintain a neutral position for your back, keep your head straight and your neck long as you look at the floor.
Begin by getting into cow pose—inhale as you press your chest forward and lift your sit bones upwards, allowing your belly to sink towards the floor. Lift your head to gaze up, and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for one breath.
Transition in to cat pose—exhale and round your spine outwards, tucking in your tailbone by moving your pelvic bone forward. Release your head and let it hang as you gaze towards your hips. Hold for five to 10 breaths, then repeat.
Build Core Strength: Front & Side Planks
Whether it is yoga, Pilates, TRX, Crossfit, dance or pole dance, these fitness workouts all require core strength for ease of execution. Planks are a great way for using your own body weight to engage the core muscles—glutes, legs, back, arms, chest, and abs. You can do planks without a yoga mat but having a good one will provide better support and comfort.
Front planks are easier than side planks, so let’s start with that. Lay on your stomach. For beginners, support yourself by keeping your forearm and elbows on the yoga mat as you lift your body off the mat onto your toes. Increase the challenge by supporting yourself on your hands instead—place your palms on the mat below your shoulders, then push yourself off the mat onto your palms and toes.
Keep your spine straight and gaze ahead, ensuring that there is no tension in the neck. Engage your abs, glutes, thighs, and buttock muscles. Keep this position and stay for 15-30 seconds. As you gain strength, hold the pose for 60 seconds or longer.
If front planks are too easy for you, twist into side planks (see main image)! Begin by twisting to one side first—keep your right palm and right leg on the mat as you twist to face the left side. Lift your left foot off the yoga mat and stack it on top of the right foot as you engage your abs, inner thighs, glutes, and buttock muscles. Raise your lift hand and reach up to the ceiling, turn your head to gaze at your left palm. Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds, building up to 60 seconds or more. Come back down to plank, then twist and repeat on the left side.
Condition Upper Body & Arms: Push Ups
Push ups should be a piece of cake—excuse the pun!—for those who can do front and side planks. Instead of holding the plank pose, you bring your body and chin down towards the yoga mat without touch it all this time keeping the body straight, then push yourself back up to plank position again. Do 10-15 reps. Beginners can keep their knees on the yoga mat for support.
Want a greater challenge? Bring your hands in from the side to the centre, and place them in a diamond shape on the mat.
Strengthen Lower Body: Lunges & Reverse Lunges
Lunges are the fitness workout that condition the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and core muscles. Begin by standing straight and with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right foot and step forward to lower your body until the knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Your left knee is about 10cm off the floor with the heel pointing to the sky, and there’s a long stride. Maintain stability by distributing your weight on to both your feet, engaging your core, and keeping your back straight. Return to standing position then repeat the move with the other foot. Do 10 reps on each side.
Reverse lunges place greater focus on the glutes, but still work all the other muscles. For reverse lunges, you step backwards instead. Everything else remains the same.
EASE INTO IT
Since these fitness workout moves are meant to ease you in to a regular fitness routine, take it easy. The idea is to get your body used to movement and workouts. Focus on one area each day, and by the end of the week, you have worked on all parts of your body! This will also have prepared your body to return to your regular workout.
This story was originally published by our friends at SOULSCAPE.
Modelled by: Patricea Chow
Yoga mat: MADANA
Photography: Jinwen Tho