In our world today, with jobs moving into the office building, staring at computers; our physical health needs attention. Some of us tackle this by joining gyms, running groups or sports teams. Others create their own workout routines. But what if you can't? What if you don't know what to do? Don't have the time? Or don't have the money? What if you're stuck in a hospital bed, watching your body atrophy because you can't go running or do squats? Let's change that. What I'm about to show you is free, takes only 10 - 15 minutes and the best part is, you don't even need to get out of bed (though you may need to wash your sheets more often).
Workouts are an active energy expenditure; this means that in order to spend calories (energy) you need to workout. For example, a 2 mile run will expend ~200-300 calories. One medium avocado has ~250 calories. In the regular calorie counting system, eating just one extra avocado will result in your needing to run 2 miles. TWO MILES, for just one avocado! Trying to fight calorie intake with more workouts is a losing battle, that system has failed. However, workouts have a hidden element called passive energy expenditure; this is the increase in your metabolism that follows you throughout the day because you worked out. Leveraging this passive energy expenditure is what leads to sustainable weight loss and muscle gain.
Let me explain. Your body is made up of cells; lets think of these as factories. These cells contain organelles called mitochondria; let's think of these as workers. The workers are the parts of your body that use up calories (ie. eat the food) to make energy, however, if your body doesn't place a demand on your factories (remember those are your cells) they start to lay off your workers (the mitochondria). We need those guys! So by creating an artificial need for them, we tell our factories to start to create more workers. Luckily for us, this doesn't require you to run a marathon or lift a car. All we need to do is use our muscles to exhaustion each day and our little factories will increase production to keep up.
You said "exhaustion" this sounds hard already! Trust me, it's simpler than it sounds. All we do is lift our limbs repeatedly until we can't anymore, no weights, to stress but huge increases in metabolism.
Exercise #1 - Leg Lifts
While laying on your back, lift one leg straight out to about 15-20 degrees from horizontal as many times as you can until you can't lift it anymore. I usually get about 120. When you're done, switch to the other leg. ~3 min.
Exercise #2 - Lateral Lifts
Laying on your side; lift one leg straight out to about 15-20 degrees using the muscles on the side of your leg. I usually get around 120. Turn to your other side and continue with the other leg. ~3 min.
Exercise #3 - Obliques
Laying on your side; lift your torso up off the ground using the side of your abdominal muscles. Try not to move your head or push up with your elbow but instead isolating the motion to your abdomen. I usually do about 35 - 60 of these. When done, turn to the other side and repeat. ~2 min.
Note - Since both exercise #2 and #3 require you to be on your side, you can do both #2 and #3 on one side before turning over if that suits you better.
Exercise #4 - Gluteus Lifts
Your gluteus maximus (ie. your butt) is the largest muscle in your body. Turning up the demand on this one can have a significant impact on your metabolism. Depending on your mobility, there are 3 ways to do this exercise. ~2 min.
Note: Pushing too hard on this exercise at first can strain your lower back.
With your knees and hands on the ground (in Table Top position); lift one leg up as far as you can go. Do this repeatedly until you can't anymore. I usually do about 35 - 60. Switch legs.
Alternate 1 - Laying on your back, lift your feet up, bend your knees and bring you heels to touch your butt. From this position, lift your butt off the ground until your torso and upper legs are flat. For a more advanced version, lift one leg and balance on the other while lifting your butt up.
Alternate 2 - Laying on your front; lift one leg up as far as you can. Do this as many times as possible, then switch legs.
Exercise #5 - Half Pushups
Laying on your front, place your hands on the ground with palms facing the ground and your thumbs touching your shoulders. Lift your upper body up by pushing the ground away. Only your hands and knees should be touching the ground. Make sure you body is flat from knees to head. Staying on your knees instead of your toes will allow you to do more pushups which, since we're going for muscular exhaustion, will lead to better results. ~1 min.
Don't let your mind convince you that you're done before your muscle is actually exhausted
If you're trying to get into shape, it's important that you continue each exercise to the point of exhaustion. It may look really easy, but I personally start feeling tired around 60-80 leg lifts and push through it to 120 or more. Each lift is simple and quick, so don't let your mind convince you that you're done before your muscle is actually exhausted. Once you start getting into shape, you'll notice that you can do substantially more. You then have the choice between pushing yourself or just maintaining your fitness.
Movement and exercise help your lymphatic system circulate. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help the body get rid of toxins and waste. It also plays a significant part in your body's immune response. This system, however, doesn't have a pump like your cardiovascular system has your heart and relies on the movement of your body for it to circulate. Being sedentary for extended periods of time leads to waste buildup in your lymphatic system and in your body which ultimately leads to disease and premature aging. Fortunately, the pumping action of these exercises help that system move and release built up waste. It's also worth noting, that though these exercises do bring up your heart rate, they do so minimally. Therefore, doing some weekly cardio is a nice compliment to this routine. Remember that your heart is a muscle too and if you're able, going on a run once or twice a week will work out that heart of yours as well!
Starting your mornings with these five exercises will ramp up your metabolism and keep it working throughout the day. You can even use these exercises as a primer for starting your own morning routine as this really helps you get your day started and hopefully (if you're able) get out of bed. I would recommend doing this workout before eating breakfast as that is when you'll have the highest levels of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) but that's a topic for another article. I personally pair these exercises with a quick yoga session for stretching (to counter the muscle gain that you'll be experiencing), a 10 minute meditation as well as intermittent fasting to boost my metabolism and HGH production even more!