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The 30-minute indoor workout that works

Don't let chilly spring weather keep you from exercising. This effective indoor workout will see you looking and feeling fit and fabulous.

You don't have to leave your house to get in shape or keep your fitness levels up when the weather's not the best. We've designed this 30-minute indoor workout to suit every fitness level – including those who are starting out after hibernating during winter.

For best results, this programme combines cardio (star jumps and step-ups) and strength training exercises (push-ups and squats).

A 2001 US study found combining these two kinds of exercise will help you get fitter faster. Doing both exercise styles enhanced strength by 21% and endurance 11% above the fitness benefits gained from doing cardio training alone.

The goal of this indoor workout is to raise your heart rate with 30- to 60-second bouts of cardio between sets of strength exercises.

Keep things simple when you work out at home. You don't want to clutter your living space, and keeping things in the cupboard usually means they will stay there.

Buying simple, small pieces of equipment are a wise investment. A Swiss ball, a resistance band or a set of small weights won't cost the world. A workout DVD, box step, skipping rope or yoga mat are other inexpensive exercise items good for home use.

But if your budget doesn't allow for this, be creative. Do bicep curls with cans of tomatoes or beans, or add more weight to your squats by holding a couple of 1.5-litre water bottles.

During cooler months, spending time warming up takes on greater importance as your muscles are cold, tight and therefore more susceptible to injury.

To warm up properly, gently move the muscles you plan to use in your workout in preparation for the more strenuous activity that is to follow. Some fun ways to warm up at home include star jumps, skipping (if your ceilings are high enough), dancing or even jumping on a mini-trampoline – if you have the room. Hallways make good jogging lanes, too.

  • Go shopping. Coincide your workout with window-shopping. Map out an outdoors walking route through a retail precinct and get friends to join in the fun. Or contact your local mall to ask about mall-walking – an exercise initiative that some main urban shopping centres have on offer.
  • Be a sport. Join a sports team to enjoy the social and fitness rewards. Making a commitment to a team means letting the side down is not an option, so you are less likely to skip training. Try tennis, soccer, baseball or lawn bowls.
  • Sign up. Join the gym. A fitness instructor will design an exercise programme to meet your personal fitness goals.
    Bushwalking. Cooler weather is perfect for the great outdoors. Plan a day or half-day walk with friends or family. Pick a trail to suit your current fitness level and take on steeper trails as you get fitter.
  • Get in front of the TV. Buy workout DVDs to enjoy exercising in home comforts.
  • Lap it up. Swim laps in a heated pool for a low-impact, effective exercise.

1. Warm up (7 mins)

For 5 to 10 minutes, do gentle exercises to warm up your whole body. Run, skip, dance.

2. Strength: Legs (3 x 1 min)

Squat with calf raise: With your feet shoulder- width apart and your hands across your chest, slowly bend at the hips and lower your bottom backwards, as if you were going to sit on a chair. When you get to no lower than 90º, pull yourself back up to a standing position. Back at the starting position, slowly bring yourself up onto your toes. Only go as high as you can, then lower yourself back down so your feet are flat on the floor.

  • Complete 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
  • What it works: quadriceps (thighs), gluteals (buttocks), hamstrings and calves (legs).

3. Cardio: Boxing (3 x 1 min)

Make a fist and punch the air in front of you. Box to the count of 1 to 10, then 10 to 1 in the following sequence: 1…, 1,2… 1,2,3… 1,2,3,4… and so on to 10, then count down to 1.

  • Complete 3 sets between sets of exercise 2.

4. Strength: Chest (3 x 1 min)

Push-ups: Lie on your stomach with palms on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep knees on the floor, slightly bent with your ankles crossed. Straighten your arms as you push your body up off the floor. Engage your abdominal muscles to stop your back from sagging. Don't lock your elbows at the top. Slowly lower your chest to the ground. When your elbows form a 90º angle, your chest shouldn't be touching the ground. Straighten your arms to push yourself up.

  • Complete 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
  • What it works: chest, shoulders and triceps (back of your upper arms).

5. Cardio: Step-ups (3 x 1 min)

On a stair or wooden box, step up 25 times as fast as you can leading with the right foot. Repeat sequence with your left foot leading.

  • Complete 25 steps on each leg between sets of exercise 3.

6. Strength: Stomach (5 mins)

Crunches: Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands across your chest. Using abdominal muscles, slowly raise your body up while pushing your lower back into the floor. Come up to a 45º angle and hold for a second, before lowering yourself back down to the starting position. A Swiss ball is great for crunches. Lie on top of the ball with your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor, shoulders resting on the ball, and hands across your chest. Curl up the same way as you would on the floor.

  • Complete 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
  • What it works: abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, and internal and external obliques).

7. Cardio: Star jumps (3 x 1 min)

Star jumps: Relive your primary school days by doing star jumps. Start with your feet together and your arms by your side. Jump feet apart while bringing your arms above your head, then jump back to your starting position.

  • Complete 30 times between sets of crunches.

8. Strength: Back (3 x 1 min)

Alternate arm and leg raises: Kneel on your hands and knees on a towel or mat. Slowly straighten your left leg and right arm as you lift them parallel with the floor. Lower limbs to the starting position and do the same action with the opposite leg and arm to complete one.

  • Complete 3 sets of 12 repetitions. Rest for 30 seconds between sets.
  • What it works: lower back.
First published: Sep 2008



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