It’s that time of year – crunch time. I mean that in the literal sense.
As summer quickly approaches and the nice weather continues to offer ample opportunities to lounge by the pool or visit the beach, it’s time to really make the effort to get in shape, and crunches can be a part of the solution!
The only workout I got in during the winter was getting up from the couch to grab a snack in the kitchen. Not exactly a crunch position, but now I’m ready to get back in shape.
Whether you’re looking to restart an old workout program or starting for the first time, exercising can be overwhelming. There are just so many choices – weights, cardio, circuit training, Yoga – and it’s often hard to find the time or energy to go to the gym. That’s when I wondered if there were some exercises I could easily do at home.
To get the “skinny” on some of the best ways to start exercising at home, I spoke with Luke Shechtman, CSCS, fitness director at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Fitness Center, who says, “Working out does not have to be a long, arduous journey every day.”
He says exercising for 40 minutes, three times a week will do the trick. The catch is it has to be an intense workout.
“You need to be sweating and breathing heavily at the end of the exercise,” Shechtman explains.
Before you get started, he strongly encourages you to educate yourself. Many gyms, including Jefferson-Myrna Brind Fitness Center, offer a free consultation to help you get started.
“Consult a professional to learn your fitness level and which exercises you shouldn’t be doing.”
Why not go for a walk?
If you’re coming off a winter of half-hearted attempts at getting back to exercise – I know I am – Shechtman suggests starting with the basics: walking. Walking provides variety and opportunities to add intensity as you go. It’s a good idea to vary your routes to avoid being bored, and, when possible, incorporate hills or steps.
Three types of exercises
Shechtman also recommends approaching exercise by remembering to include three types of exercises:
- Weight-bearing: Walking and exercise videos are just two examples you can do at home.
- Multi-hinge exercises: Using multiple body parts at one time. Squatting and lifting a weight simultaneously is a great example of this form of exercise.
- Stretching: Shechtman compares stretching to water because it is extremely important to incorporate in your routine, and you really can’t get enough of it. The best time to stretch is at the end of a workout since your muscles are already warmed up and pliable.
Shechtman also provides some good news for those people, like me, who dread crunches. The exercise he feels garners the best results (and can be done anywhere!) is planks.
“I love planks. Many times when people work out their abs, they only exercise one side and don’t work out the lower back. Planks work out both sides,” he explains.
In addition to strengthening your core (belly, middle and lower back), planks avoid the stress crunches put on your spine. (See video on how to perform a proper plank and other at-home exercises.)
However, when done properly, crunches can be a great way to change up your abs routine!
Finally, Shechtman says the most important thing to remember when exercising is correct body alignment and form.
“You may be burning calories doing exercises incorrectly, but over time, you’ll really hurt yourself.”
Home workout tips
- Utilize your cable provider for workout programs or go online to find a variety of routines.
- Shechtman advises purchasing a Physioball (that large ball you see in exercise videos and in gyms), but if you have a child’s bouncy ball around the house, that can be used as a substitute.
- No weights? A bag of flour, thick books and containers filled with rocks/sand will do the trick!
To schedule a free personal fitness evaluation, visit Jefferson-Myrna Brind Fitness Center at 1012 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia or call 215-503-6222.