It seems that fall has finally arrived. I really enjoy this time of the year. The leaves are changing, Christmas is right around the corner and the temperature is starting to cool down.
Unfortunately the temperature can become a hindrance to maintaining an effective workout regimen. When it is cold outside we tend to reduce our time outside working out, become less active when we are outside, and ultimately work out less frequently. How demotivating is it to try to work out when it is chilly outside? Add wind to it, forget about it. Living in Alaska for the last seven years forced me to bring my workouts indoors. No matter how tough you are, when it is -20° F simply walking to your car becomes a chore that requires planning. Fortunately, our indoor workouts can be very effective.
If you plan on working out inside, the kettlebell is the most essential tool at your disposal. With this one piece of iron you can work your hamstrings, biceps, forearms, upper back, lower back, deltoids, core, and, most importantly, your cardiovascular system. I’ve had one of these in my truck for four years because of their versatility and limited space requirements, and I never feel short changed by the workouts they provide. If you had a space that was just two arm-widths in diameter, then you have all of the space that you need.
I recommend starting with the two-handed swing, progressing to the one-armed swing, and then the high pull. These exercises will prove their value after trying them once.
Men should start with a 35lb weight and women should start with a 25lb weight. If these weights are too heavy begin with a lighter dumbbell and do only two-handed swings until you are ready to progress to the 25lb bell and different exercises.
As great as the kettlebell is, it really doesn’t work your pectoral muscles. This is where the push-up finds its place in our workout. They are simple, don’t require any extra equipment, and one can never quite outgrow this most basic of exercises.
The standard, per the U.S. Army, is to place your hands shoulder-width apart, body flat from shoulders to heels (i.e. not sagging in the middle), feet no farther than 12 inches apart, lower yourself until the upper part of arm is parallel to the ground, push all the way until the arms are locked again, and repeat.
Start off with five sets of ten. For an added challenge spread your hands further apart to bring greater emphasis to your pectoral muscles or bring your hands closer together for greater emphasis on your triceps muscles. If this is not enough, try one-armed push-ups. An unspoken advantage to doing push-ups is that you must engage your core in order to maintain a straight body. Remember core workouts don’t have to be exclusive to sit-ups and crunches.
Many people have old treadmills lying around unused. A treadmill can be a powerful tool for developing conditioning in a limited space. Try setting the speed and incline to challenging levels and doing about :30 to 1:00 minute on and the same amount of time off. Do this for 15 to 30 minutes.
Another tool is the stair stepper. I never saw the use for them until I saw a boxer using one for footwork and conditioning. Try doing quick steps onto and off of the box followed by lateral steps. The key here is to do them at maximum speed. Doing these will work out your calf muscles, hip abductors,and hip adductors in addition to an unbelievable cardiovascular expenditure.
It is implied that all body weight exercises such as sit-ups and leg lifts are fair game. The objective here is to demonstrate that an effective workout can be done inside with limited space, and when the weather starts to look like an episode of Ice Road Truckers, that is a good to know.
Josh Cormier is a Certified Personal Trainer and owner of North Atlantic Personal Training. Visit www.NorthAtlanticPT.com for more information or if you have any questions.