December has always been associated with holidays, celebrations and disruptions.
It is also the season when we start losing steam and slack in our workouts; travel plans, festive eating, merry-making, rainy days – all these put a damper on our fitness pursuit.
Not surprising, fitness ranks low on the list of December priorities for many of us.
It may continue to hover at the bottom of the rung until after Chinese New Year when our appetites have been satiated and the monsoon showers have let up.
Then, come sunshine, gym memberships soar and running tracks fill up as we slog to tone the body parts we’re unhappy with.
While certain factors cannot be avoided, do not let the rain stop you from breaking into a sweat.
Even a 10- or 15-minute workout at home can do wonders for the mood and body.
Many people tend to focus on aerobic activity, but neglect the equally important resistance training side of exercise.
Use the rainy days to work on strengthening your muscles and skip the cardio.
All you need are two 1.5 litre water bottles to act as dumbbells.
Don’t have them? Then, grab any object from your surroundings that can be easily held in the palms such as clay cups. Make sure they’re not too heavy.
You don’t need shoes or special exercise gear either (psst, I sometimes exercise in my pyjamas!), just a willingness to get moving.
If you have a mat, then use it, or else, the floor is fine.
Crank up some music if you like – there are plenty of rainy day tunes to pick from, and try some of these exercise ideas:
- Jumping Jacks
Do 20 of these as a warm-up.
Optional: Side lunges.
- Running-on-the-spot with high knees
Do 20 of these, making sure you articulate the ankles by landing on the balls of the feet, followed by the heels.
Right and left constitute one repetition.
If you cannot run, just lift your knees up as quickly as you can.
Pretend you’re Spiderman and get on all fours and crawl from one end to the other of your space, then back.
Don’t let your knees touch the floor.
One set of these exercises is enough to get your body temperature up, but if you feel like doing more, repeat the entire sequence once or twice more.
To amp things up, hold a cup or bottle in each hand as you do the jumping jacks and running-on-the-spot with high knees.
Here are some other exercises you can also do at home. Do 15 repetitions for each exercise.
- Sumo squats with shoulder presses
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width, feet turned out and each hand holding a water bottle or cup at chest level.
Bend your knees and get into a squat position with your upper legs parallel to the floor, while extending your hands above the head.
Hold for three seconds and push back up to the starting position, squeezing your butt.
You can also opt to do a regular squat by keeping your feet parallel, shoulder-width apart.
- Standing calf raises
Stand straight with feet parallel, arms dangling, while holding cups or bottles in each hand.
Lift your heels off the floor until you’re balancing on the balls of your feet.
Then return slowly back to start.
Start in the push-up position, slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor to the count of three before pushing yourself up to the starting position.
If this proves too difficult, put your knees on the floor.
Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Raise your hands, legs and head off the floor with your lower back firmly pushed into the ground.
Twist your torso as you bring your knee and opposite elbow to meet.
Keep alternating as you perform this cycling motion as fast as you can.
Right and left count as one repetition.
- Back lifts
Lie flat on your stomach with feet slightly separated. Lace your fingers behind your head, keeping your forehead on the floor.
Slowly, lift your chest up, keeping your elbows pushed back.
Get back to starting position.
Lift your legs off the floor while squeezing your butt.
Return to starting position.
Alternate upper body and lower body lifts.
- Tricep extensions
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Grasp the water bottle or cups with both hands and place them behind your head, aiming for a position between your shoulder blades.
Straighten your arms above your head, making sure your elbows don’t flare outward too much. And repeat.
- Russian twists
Sit on the floor, keeping your knees bent.
Lean back slightly so your torso and legs form a V-like shape, bracing your abdominal wall to engage your core.
While balancing in this position, clasp your hands in front and twist your torso from side to side without moving your legs.
For an extra challenge, lift your legs off the floor, with ankles crossed or hold the bottles in each hand
- Alternating side planks
Get into the push-up position with feet together, and roll onto the outer edge of your left foot, stacking your right leg on top of your left.
Brace your body with your left hand and stretch your right hand straight up.
Stay in this position for three seconds before returning to the push-up position.
Do the other side. Keep alternating sides.
- Forearm plank
Get into the push-up position, but with your elbows bent and your forearms flat on the ground so that they are supporting your body.
Keep your body as straight as possible and hold this position for as long as you can.
At the end of your exercise session, do some light stretching to cool down your body and lie on the floor in corpse pose (flat on your back with arms and legs spread out and relaxed) for 15 minutes.
If you fall asleep listening to the rain pelt down, that’s okay.
With a good backup plan in place, rain is no longer an excuse to ditch your regular workout.
Instead, it’s the perfect opportunity to shake up your routine with new things.
And if you decide to indulge yourself later, you won’t feel as guilty.
Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email email@example.com. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
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