Men and women typically have different areas of focus when it comes to strength exercises – but the one thing we all have in common is being time poor. Two experts have given their top tips for a challenging at-home program designed specifically for him and her.
Olympic hurdler and sports scientist Brendan Cole says the best fitness programs for men include balance and strengthening exercises to target the muscles used to perform everyday tasks.
Brendan competed in the 2012 Olympics and won gold in the 4x400m relay at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He develops strength programs for athletes from all sports at the ESS High Performance Gym in Melbourne.
“Sitting down at a desk all day can impact postural strength. This is a case of sitting on your glutes all day but not actually using,” says Cole.
“I chose these exercises because they are a bit different from the usual suspects,” he says. “They will challenge men of average fitness but they are achievable.”
Single leg bridge: Lie on your back. With one knee bent and the other leg straight on the floor, lift hips off floor to align with shoulders and knees. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Repeat 8-12.
Arabesque toe touches: Balancing on one leg, slowly bend forward from the hip, extend other leg backward in an arabesque position, as straight and as high as possible in the air. Reach forward with one hand and touch the floor. Repeat 6-12.
Push-ups: Lie face down with body supported on hands and toes and in a plank-like position with palms directly under shoulders. Lower chest towards floor. Push up slowly. Repeat 8-12.
Lateral step-up. Using a staircase, place one foot on the ground and one foot on the second stair. Slowly step up then return to start position. Repeat 8-12.
Plank – hands and heels. Sit with legs straight, hands by your side. Straighten your arms and push your bottom upwards into up-facing plank position, supporting yourself only on hands and heels. Raise one leg, pause, lower and repeat on other side. Repeat 8-15.
Recommendation: Repeat set three times a week
Dahlas Fletcher, owner of Brisbane-based Bodyfabulous, has 10 years’ experience as a fitness trainer. She understands many women are time-poor and need an exercise program they can squeeze into their busy lives.
She suggests high-intensity interval training, which means doing big movements in a short amount of time to burn calories fast.
“Squatting is really important,” says Dahlas. “If women are going to do anything, it should be squatting because it’s really important to get that mobility happening through your hips and legs.”
Mountain climber: Start on the floor in a push-up position, on your toes. Lift and bend each leg; bringing the knee up towards the shoulder on the same side shoulder, one at a time, as if you are climbing a mountain on the floor. Repeat 20 per leg.
Tricep dip: Stand facing away from a bench or chair. Bend your knees and grip the edge of seat with your hands. With fingers directly underneath your bottom and chest lifted up and forward, lower your entire body towards the floor. Raise slowly. Repeat 15.
Walking lunge: Step forward onto one leg, bending back leg till your knee comes close to touching the ground. Return to standing and repeat for other leg. Optional: add hand weights. Repeat 12.
Sumo squat: Stand with feet set wider than your hips. Squat so that your bottom is just below your knees. Keep chest raised. Return to standing, keep knees soft. Repeat 15 squats.
Recommendation: Do the circuit twice, with a rest of 60 to 90 seconds in between each exercise. Repeat set twice or three times weekly.
Exercise should be fun and challenging. Celebrate life by giving these a go.