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Indoor Exercises To Build Up Your Strength

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Indoor Exercises To Build Up Your Strength
If you don’t feel like going out and exercising, for whatever reason — too hot, it looks like rain, the neighbours might see! — you can still work up a sweat and build up your strength indoors.
To start you off, I have put together some beginner exercises addressing flexibility, mobility, strength and balance. Do consult your doctor before you begin, especially if you have any muscle–joint injuries or old injuries.
Flexibility refers to the ability of the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons) to lengthen and passively stretch in response to movement.
Mobility refers to the joints’ ability to actively move through their full range of motion.
A good stretching routine (flexibility) sets the stage for greater movement in the joints (mobility) and improves posture and circulation. Mobility exercises will help you move better and prevent injuries.
Warming up for a stretching routine

Stretching tips:

Shoulder, arm and neck stretch
  1. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, swing both arms as you twist your body first to the right (turn your head to look behind) and then to the left. Let the arms flow naturally as they swing. Your left heel will naturally be raised as you turn right. And vice versa. Do this 4 times on each side.
  1. Stretch out your arms to the side (scarecrow stance) with feet slightly apart. Your right palm faces the ceiling and the left palm faces the floor. Alternate the hand movement simultaneously. You will feel your shoulders activated and moving like a cockscrew (10 reps).
  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Take both arms overhead. Bend your left arm to clasp the right elbow. Your right hand is behind your head as you touch the area just below your neck. Bend your body to the left and stretch (hold 10 secs). You may lift the left heel and balance on the ball of the left foot if you are bending to the left and vice versa. Change. Bend your right hand to clasp the left elbow and stretch to the right (hold 10 secs).
Back and chest stretch (cat–cow)
  1. Go on all fours. Maintain your back in neutral position (flat back). Knees are hip-width apart. Breathe in and as you exhale, gently round your back with your face down. Hold 8 counts. Next, breathe in and as you exhale, arch your back and look in front of you. Hold 8 counts. Do 4 cat–cow stretches.
  1. Still on all fours, stretch your left hand out in front of you. Your right arm stays bent near your body. Press your left armpit as close to the mat as possible as you lower your chest. Adjust your right elbow to comfortably rest on the mat. Your bottom may stick out as you lean back. Feel the stretch in your arms, back and legs. Hold for 8 secs and then switch sides.
Hip and leg stretches (hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and calves)
  1. Sit on the mat with your knees bent and legs spread hip-width apart or wider. Now bend both legs to one side to touch the mat with your knees if you can. Hold for 2 secs. Your body would have to turn along with the move. This activates the hip flexors. Proceed to do the same with the other side. Do 8 reps.
  1. Lie on your back on the mat and bend your legs (about 90 degrees) with knees touching. Keeping the bent left leg steady, open out and move your bent right leg with the knee aiming to touch the floor on your right followed by the left leg joining your right. Go back up to the 90-degree position with the left leg first and then the right. You can use your arms for support. Next, keeping the right knee steady, do the same with the left knee aiming to touch the floor, followed by the right knee joining the left. Go back up.
  1. a. When you are comfortable with the above, you can try the following: Bend the right knee gently to touch the right floor. Straighten and stretch your left leg to swing over gently to the right to rest on the right floor. Use your right hand to hold onto your left ankle or calf. Your left hand remains outstretched. Turn your head and look to the fingers on your left hand. Repeat for the left. This twisting motion will massage your organs and is an anti-aging move.
  1. Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back on the floor. Bend both legs. Keep the left foot flat on the floor. Extend the right leg straight and perpendicular to the body. Hold the back of your right thigh with both hands. Slowly pull your thigh towards you. Hold for 8 secs. Then point and flex your foot 4 times.
  1. Continue into a glute stretch by making a figure of 4. Do this by gently bending the right leg and crossing your lower right leg over so that your ankle is resting on the left quadriceps (upper thigh area above the knee). Extend your right arm through the gap (made by your legs) to catch your left arm at the back of your left thigh. You should feel a wonderful stretch in your hamstrings and glutes. Repeat with the other side.
5 Quadriceps stretch
These are found on the front of your thighs. They are important for walking and standing.
Sit on your right glutes (bottom) with right leg extended. Rest your right elbow on the mat. Bend your left leg and with your left hand pull the leg gently for a good quad stretch. Repeat with the other side.
Indoor Exercises To Build Up Your Strength - Quad stretch seated
Strength exercises
These functional exercises ensure balance, a strong core and lower body strength, thereby preventing falls.
Many are multi-joint exercises targeting the back and shoulders too. They help with your everyday activities like climbing overhead bridges, balancing on public transport or reaching for items on a shelf.
Do check with your doctor first before you begin.
Start with a staggered stance (right foot in front of the left). Right leg is slightly bent. The left leg is stretched out and left foot is flat on the floor.
Swing your arms (slightly bent) outwards from the side of your body in a circular motion to a 45-degree overhead position, fingers touching as you lean forward.
As you swing your hands up, note that your heel is also lifting off the ground and receiving a good stretch. Return to your starting position and do 8 reps. Repeat with the other side.
Bicep curls
You may use a 500-ml bottle filled with water in each hand. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart or in staggered stance.
Ensure the arms are close to the body and elbows are tucked. Shoulders back. Start curling the biceps from just below the waist to the shoulder. Squeeze and hold for 2 secs. Slowly go back down. (10 reps).
Overhead shoulder presses
This exercise engages the shoulders, upper back and core. Stand shoulder-width apart holding the weights with elbows bent in bicep-curl position.
Do a bicep curl to the shoulders and then turn arms out and reach to make a circle ending overhead when the bottle caps touch. Make sure you squeeze the shoulder blades. The up movement is quick but the hands coming down is a slow movement (8 reps).
Tricep kickbacks
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Keep elbows bent close to the body above the waist and swing both elbows back together (with weights).
As you straighten your arms for the triceps kickback, do not shift the starting position of the arm. Return to bent-elbow position (8 reps).
Squats increase lower body and core strength as well as flexibility in your lower back and hips. All the major muscle groups of the lower body are activated. Grab weights or water bottles.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider. Hold the weights in front of your chest and squat as though you are about to sit on an imaginary chair.
Ensure knees do not go beyond the toes. Press into your heels and straighten legs to return to a standing upright position. Repeat 10 reps slowly.
The powerful lunge is a multi-joint exercise. Your hip flexors are stretched improving flexibility and strengthening the core helps you maintain balance and prevent injuries. Stand with the right foot 2 to 3 feet in front of the left foot, hands resting on your hips. You may hold onto the back of a chair for support. As you lunge on your right leg, your knees do not go over the toes.
Try to have your right thigh parallel to the floor. Your left heel is lifted off the floor and your left knee points to the floor. Push back up to the starting position. If this is too much for your knees, do a gentler lunge within your range of movement. Do the same with the left leg lunging. Do 3 lunges on each leg. You may increase the reps as you become stronger.
Ankle and shoulder shrugs
Ankles are important because strong ankles ensure good balance. Carry a weight in each hand. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. As you lift your heels off the floor, bring the shoulders to your ears. Hold 2 secs. Come back down with feet flat on the floor. Repeat 10 reps.
Lie on the mat with legs bent at 90 degrees. Bend elbows and place both hands behind your head. Now straighten the right leg. Bring the left knee in to your chest and touch it with your right elbow, turning your head to the left. Hold the right crunch for 3 secs and switch legs. Keep alternating for 10 reps.
Cool down exercises
  1. Sit with your legs crossed. Tilt your head to the right. Use your right hand to pull your head for a good stretch at the neck. Hold 8 counts. Do it for the left.
  1. Place your hands in prayer position and push up the chin. Cup your head in your hands and look down for a neck stretch.
  1. Stand shoulder-width apart. Bend your left elbow to support your right arm stretch. Cross your straightened lower right arm to the left and rest it against your bent lower left arm. Hold for 6 secs. Do the same for the other side.
  1. Stand in staggered stance. Lean forward as you rest your straightened right leg on your right heel with ball of foot lifted off floor. Stretch your right hamstring. (4 counts). Come back to standing position. Hold onto the wall with your left palm for support and bend your right knee slowly, grabbing the top of your right foot with your right hand if you can (4 counts). Feel the stretch in your right quads. Repeat with the left.
  1. Take 3 deep breaths with arms outstretched and raised over the head and then lowered.
And you are done. Give yourself a pat on your back. You are strong.

Also read:

Unearth the Hidden Gems With

Unearth The Hidden Gems With takes you on a journey into the past and present of various locales in Singapore. We take the day-long tour and solved a dozen puzzles. It’s a great activity for a group outing!

Valerie Valberg-Yeoh

I jumpstart each day with a workout. To keep the silver engine running for longer and to wear short skirts.

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