Not having the time to hit the gym is an excuse, at best. As the young corporate man gets busier by the day, the first activity that goes out of the window is working out. But excuses don't make a fit body, and if you've been planning to do something about that bulging belly, it is time to get up and going.
If a gym isn't handy at all times, how about an exercise routine that you can follow in your own room without any equipment whatsoever? As fitness icon and model-turned-actor Rahul Dev puts it, you need conviction more than anything else to keep fit. He prescribes a routine that doesn't require more than 45 minutes of your time every day.
WARM-UP (15 MINUTES)
Getting a good warm-up is essential - it helps prepare your muscles for the workout, prevents injuries, lays the foundation for your routine, gets your heart rate up, and helps increase the blood flow in your body. A good warm-up should ideally constitute 20-25% of your total workout time, and include static as well as dynamic stretching along with basic cardiovascular exercises.
- Stretching (5 minutes): This includes static stretching (for your neck, shoulders, chest, back, waist and legs) and dynamic stretching (for muscles, joints, ligaments and hamstrings). Some good stretches include the sky reach, toe touch, neck and shoulder rolls, shoulder stretch, side reach, quadriceps stretching, back bends, ankle rolls and thigh hugs. You can include some yoga postures such as suryanamaskar, triangle pose, camel pose and downward facing dog for an even better stretching experience.
- Cardio (10 minutes): Besides the obvious burning calories part, cardiovascular exercises work on your heart and lungs - forming the aerobic part of your workout. A good 10-minute cardio workout not only makes you break a sweat, but also releases endorphins or happy hormones - thereby enhancing your mood and relaxing your mind. You can choose from running, skipping or dancing; you need to enjoy your workout as well. Jumping Jacks make for another great cardio exercise. If you want, you can even combine different exercises and mix and match for those 10 minutes. A sample cardio workout could be: Running (5 minutes), Skipping (3 minutes) and Jumping Jacks (2 minutes).
WORKOUT (25 MINUTES)
Once you've become hot and sweaty, it's time to hit the ground, literally, and challenge your muscles. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't just cardio that burns calories; even strength training moves are supremely effective for shedding pounds and getting leaner. A good workout is one that emphasizes on both aerobic and anaerobic exercises - cardio, being aerobic, only works on the heart and lungs, and you need strength moves to work on your muscles, joints and everything else.
The exercises given here target more than one muscle group and you can use your own body weight to get the desired results.
COOL DOWN (5 MINUTES)
- Push-ups (5 sets of 10 each): One of the most basic yet effective exercise anyone can do are push-ups. It primarily targets your shoulders, chest and arms that form your upper body, and is fabulous for building muscle strength. People who initially find the basic position tough can start with their knees touching the floor and gradually build it up. Those who've mastered the basic push-up already can try diamond as well as one-hand push-ups.
- Squats (5 sets of 10 each): This workout, which is for your thighs and glutes, works wonders for your lower body. A toned derriere is everyone's dream, and squats shape and tone your butt like no other. When doing a squat, it's important to note that your knees shouldn't exceed the toes. When in the final squat position and the end posture, you should look like you are sitting on an invisible chair. To add effect, you can even try sitting in the squat position for a few seconds before coming up.
- Lunges (4 sets of 10 for each leg): Whether walking or static, lunges are a great move to build strength in your lower body, and shape your legs and calves. Our legs are the pillars of our body and it's important to work our leg muscles. A good lunge will work on your hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes, and since you also involve your back and core muscles as stabilizers, it targets almost the entire body. Don't let your knees go beyond your toes, similar to a squat.
- Planks (Minimum of three, held for at least 45 seconds): If you've been lusting after the highly-coveted six-pack abs, this should be your move. Better known for working on the core, a plank actually is a full-body workout that targets the upper body (pectoral and serratus muscles), lower body (quadriceps and sartorius muscles), and abdominal (rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis that form your outer and inner abdominal muscles) area. A plank also improves flexibility.
After an intensive workout routine, it is important to lower your body heat gradually to avoid muscle fatigue and soreness. Cooling down also helps avoid injuries as it soothes all the tired muscle groups. You can do this by gently stretching all the major muscles involved. Lying down for a minute in the Shavasana position may also be a good idea.