We recently picked out the four essential pieces of exercise equipment that everybody needed at home – meaning you can stop buying unnecessary junk that clutters your cupboards, and focus on a few key items.
Armed with an exercise mat, a Swiss ball, resistance bands and suspension trainer, as well as bit of know-how, it’s possible to put together short, sharp and effective exercise routines that will work all of your main muscle groups, without breaking the bank.
First up is the humble exercise mat. Available for around £10, an exercise mat should be in everyone’s equipment list. Easy to roll up and put away, they do much more than just protect your knees and carpets (though, of course, they do that as well!)
Boot camp guide to floor mat exercises
The best place to start – build press ups into any general exercise routine for a simple (but never easy!) way to improve arm, shoulder, chest and core strength.
We have already covered the best press-up techniques here before, so read our guide and get cracking.
Crunches aren’t as widely popular as they used to be, because although they are useful, they still miss key areas that moves such as the plank, below, hit brilliantly. However, crunches are still great for your stomach and abs, just make sure you follow our guide and vary your approach.
Lie on your back on the floor (on a mat or a thin carpet), and bend your knees.
Make sure that your feet are flat on the floor. When you are used to doing crunches, you can consider keeping your feet suspended in the air to make the exercise a little more difficult, but this style of crunch is not ideal for beginners.
Place your fingertips on your temples – it’s important not to pull your neck with your hands, and slowly sit up to bring your head, neck and shoulders off the floor until your chest is at your knees. Always make a conscious effort to pull your abdominal muscles in when you do crunches, or you will risk injuring your lower back.
Repeat the exercise as many times as possible, gradually increasing the amount of repetitions as your abs become stronger.
Lie down on the ground and put your hands on the floor.
Bring your knees towards your chest to make a 90 degree angle, keeping your feet together (or crossed).
Contract your abs in order to curl your hips up off the floor, reaching your legs up towards the ceiling.
Lower your legs, and then repeat the exercise until you have performed 1-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.
Lie down on a floor mat with your legs on a bench, and put your hands behind your head.
Flex and twist your waist in order to raise your upper torso to one side.
Go back until your shoulders touch the mat.
Change the direction of your twist and perform the same exercise to strengthen the muscles on the opposite site of your body.
Lie in the position that you would assume to perform a normal crunch.
Bring your belly button in, and crunch off the floor towards your right, touching your elbow to your right thigh.
Hold this position for three seconds, and then lower your upper back to the floor.
Crunch your left elbow towards your left thigh and hold.
Again, we have covered the plank before on here, but it works so well and the floor mat is ideal for this. Again, as with any of these, the key is variety – and there are loads of variations on the plank that you can perform.
Lie face down, with your toes touching the floor. Keep your body straight and stiff, and balance the rest of your weight on your forearms, with your arms beneath your shoulders. Hold this for as long as you can, or time yourself to do reps. It’s tougher than it looks, so even 10 seconds might be difficult for beginners. Build up until you can hold a plank for a minute or longer.
Leg raise plank:
As it sounds, hold the position for the basic plank, but lift one leg straight up from the floor, and hold that position.
Two point plank:
More difficult still, in addition to the leg raise plank, lift one arm from the floor as well. This one will take some practice and really tests your core strength. For advanced ‘plankers’ only!
As it sounds, start in the basic plank position, and ‘roll’ onto your side, so that only one forearm, and the side of one foot, is in contact with the floor. You can keep your feet together for this or, to develop it further, lift your ‘free’ leg and arm in the air. Hold for as long as you can.