I always used to build my own workouts well before I became a personal trainer. Being a vet was somewhat time-consuming and I couldn’t ever justify a gym membership if I was going to only make it maybe once or twice a month. I also couldn’t face the thought of getting home and changing just to leave again and try and exercise when all I wanted was food and sleep. I actually quite often had to decide whether food or sleep was more important as even sleep was a luxury let alone the time to workout!
I got into the habit of devising my own little workouts which I would do in 20-30 minutes in the morning before work. I just did them in my bedroom or living room and it completely took away the worry of the journey time to and from the gym or really worrying about what attire was appropriate for the gym! I regularly did my workouts in my sports bra and pants! I also didn’t really use much equipment if at all. Most of the exercises were bodyweight but over the years I did graduate to some standard weights, resistance bands (epic little ninjas), a BOSU ball and a skipping rope (*hardly used skipping rope I must admit!).
The most effective workout, especially when time is precious, is a fully body workout. The exercise itself doesn’t have to be fancy. Just make sure you have some legs, some arms and some core in there and you’re set. A good playlist helps too.
Here is a nice easy-to-use method for picking your own exercises to concoct your own personal workout. Make it as easy or as hard as you like. I will give you the guidelines but ultimately the intensity is up to you.
Below is a template for what exercise can go where. They can really go in any order as long as you keep the overall workout relatively balanced, either in the same workout or at least over the course of the week (in other words having a mainly leg day and the next workout mainly arms).
All exercises are bodyweight unless otherwise stated. I have given you 8 examples of each and obviously only choose one for each body part where stated above. Youtube it if you are unsure of the example exercises listed below.
Reps and sets: do 8-12 reps of each exercise. When the exercise is alternating between an individual leg or an arm you can either do e.g 8 in total or 8 each side - it’s as hard as you make it!). For exercises such as planks, skipping rope or hollow holds then do for these 30-60 seconds.
Repeat through each group of exercises 1-4 times depending on the time you have available. Rest for 30-90 seconds between each group of exercises. The less rest you have the harder (more intense) it is as you have less time to recover. In other words it can be your very own HIIT workout.
You can do this form of workout up to 3 times a week for general fitness and an aid to weight loss.
PLEASE NOTE: As with any new exercise please start easy and then make it harder once you are accustomed and comfortable with the exercises. If you feel sharp pain or discomfort at any point STOP. Seek a professional’s advice if you are concerned.
EXAMPLE EXERCISE LIBRARY (feel free to create your own and/or add to it!)
Single Leg (SL) chair/bed squats
Lateral (side) lunges
Tricep dips from chair/bedBicep curls (if you don’t have weights, splurge out on some resistance bands - they’re amazing)
Shoulder press (weights or resistance bands)
Upright rows (weights or resistance bands)
Bent over rows (weights or resistance bands)
Seated rows (resistance bands)
Pike push ups (shoulders - youtube it!)
Squat to overhead press (weights or resistance band)
Split squat into bicep curl (weights or resistance band)
Burpees (classic!) - all variations welcome
Push up into alternating side planks
Skipping rope (if you have one!)
Glute bridges (yes your glutes are included in the “core”)
Russian twists (a good rotation exercise)
Pallof press (youtube it - requires a resistance band or weight - very effective)
Glute bridge walkouts (youtube it - harder than it looks!)