For better or for worse, summer break is a huge disruption to the personal schedule you uphold while actively enrolled in college. Some of those disruptions are much-needed, like a much-deserved, relaxing getaway or a full-time internship that certainly wouldn’t jive with your normal roster of classes. Other welcomed disruptions also come around a bit more unexpectedly during summer break. Need proof? Take a look at your suffering workout regimen.
Yep, your fitness routine has seen better days since you’re not going to the on-campus gym as frequently. Maybe you didn’t want to pay the summer membership fee, or perhaps, you are kicking it with your parents for the prolonged break and are currently thousands of miles from that very gym. Whatever the reason, you’re ready to get back on the horse with a DIY routine that you can squeeze in between Netflix binges and social plans – and, later, your classes and extracurricular activities.
If you’re temporarily without gym accommodations either short-term or long-term, you might be wondering how to get in a good workout without shelling out up to 100 bucks for a monthly gym membership. Luckily, there are several time-honored, at-home workouts at your disposal, for everything from improving endurance and coordination to toning muscles. Behold, uCribs’ ultimate list of 6 at-home exercises that will maintain your current healthy lifestyle or help you kick-start a new one.
Why we love it: You’ve undoubtedly been familiar with this standard training exercise since childhood. You might have even gotten fancy with your footwork and introduced variations, like Double Dutch and High Knees, to show off on the playground. Now, this eternally favored exercise is back again to help tone your adult body. Jumping rope burns a lot of calories, improves coordination, and decreases the likelihood that you’ll sustain a foot or ankle injury. It’s also really accessible, since jump ropes only retail for a few dollars and can be taken anywhere. We know what you’re thinking, and we agree: jumping rope is super ideal for an on-the-go student like yourself.
How to do it: You know the gist of jumping rope, but make sure you’re maintaining good form, or else you might sustain a small injury. Always keep your feet close together and only use the midsoles of your feet to land. You’ll also want to keep your knees slightly bent the entire time and only rise about 1 inch off the ground with each jump. Once you’ve gotten the hang of basic jumping, research variations— like jump rope jacks— to amp up the intensity, and you’ll be killing it in your intramural club of choice in no time.
Why we love them: Squats are a classic exercise for a reason. They burn a considerable number of calories, work multiple muscle groups at once – the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals – and also improve flexibility in your lower back and hips. You’ll need to keep an eye on your positioning while conducting this activity, but once you get it down, squats are incredibly easy to incorporate into your workout routine and are great for adding a challenging dimension to whatever workout you’re doing that day. Variety is the spice of life, right? Plus, it will keep you motivated in your workouts.
How to do them: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees, lowering down as if you are about to sit in a chair. Lower yourself as far as you can without straining your muscles or losing form. Then, straighten your legs to starting position. Repeat the movement for a few sets of 10, 15, or 20. When you’re ready for more intense sculpting, add weights to each rep, or convert the standard squat into a calorie-busting burpee, as described below.
Why we love them: “Love” might be a strong word for this exercise. Can you blame us? Burpees can be hard to master initially, and even then, this full-body activity doesn’t exactly elicit warm and fuzzy feelings. Don’t let the silly name fool you: burpees pack a punch when it comes to promoting cardiovascular health and muscle toning. You’re not only jumping high in the air, but also finalizing the move with a plank, frogger, and sometimes, even a push-up. This works everything from your chest to your calves, making burpees a sort of one-stop shop for at-home fitness – and granting you full privileges to a sweet treat after you master a few sets.
How to do them: Start your basic burpee by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Lower your body into a squatting position before placing your hands on the floor, directly in front of your feet. Shift your body weight to your hands, and while doing so, jump your feet back, landing in a steady plank position. Then, jump your feet back to their original position near your hands. Pull your body up, arms over head, and jump in the air. That completes one super-challenging burpee rep.
Why we love them: Talk about a silent killer of a workout! Anyone who’s tried their hand at yoga or Pilates is likely already familiar with the side plank. This common yoga position is the unsung hero of abdominal exercises since it works the obliques and glutes to sculpt and stabilize your core. It’s also great for improving your posture and building muscles necessary to reduce back pain – which we’re sure you’re already getting a taste of, after spending months lugging around heavy textbooks. Looking at you, Principles of Macroeconomics.
How to do them: Lie on your right side with your legs extended. Stack your top leg on the bottom, so your ankles are together. Make sure your head is perfectly aligned to your spine and that the elbow of your right arm is on the floor, directly under your shoulder. Once your body is properly aligned, engage your abs and lift your hips and knees off the floor. Keep your hips in-line and your core tight. Hold for a few breaths before releasing. Work your way up to holding each side plank for 60 seconds.
Why we love it: Rigorous walking might not sound like much of a workout, but considering that aerobic walking lifts your heart rate, burns fat, and primes your body for further exertion, we think this modest exercise is pretty underrated. Aerobic walking is also very doable for those recovering from physical injury or muscle strain and can help those, who are out of shape, get back in the saddle when it comes to physical activity. Perhaps, best of all, fast-paced walking can be done literally anywhere, whether you’re zipping around the local shopping mall or taking your walk to a beachside locale. Hey, no one said you had to give up summer fun for a good workout!
How to do it: Walking is about as simple as it sounds, and you can do it anywhere – even in the aisles of your grocery store of choice! However, if you want maximum payoff, pay close attention to the energy you’re exerting. You’ll know your heart rate is up when you are breathing hard and can only speak in short sentences. In other words, your walk shouldn’t be so easy that you can call your long-distance college bestie to catch up on the latest gossip. Once you feel your walks getting easier, mix up your routine with free weights, rougher terrain, and interval exercises.
Why we love them: We couldn’t possibly get through an at-home workout blog without mentioning the undisputed king of DIY fitness: push-ups. Much like burpees, you might be hard pressed to find anyone who absolutely loves doing push-ups, but if you’re seeking an effective way to tone your upper body and enhance core strength, push-ups are where it’s at. Push-ups can also be tailored to your fitness level. If you’re just starting out with upper body toning, you can rely on your knees while lifting your torso. Or, if you’ve got the push-up down to a science, you can do the regular motion, before pulsing your movements for more resistance.
How to do them: Position your hands shoulder width apart on the floor. Assume a plank position, with your body aligned, feet together, and toes curled up against the floor. Steadily lower yourself before using your arms to push yourself up again. If you’d like to make your push-up easier, cross your legs at the knees. For more of a challenge, try the pulsing movement mentioned above, or lift one leg over the other as you move your body up and down.
Working on your fitness can be discouraging when you have no gym membership and little cash to spend on building out an at-home gym. But, despite what some social media influencers want you to think, designer workout gear and a fully amenitized gym space aren’t necessary to get in shape. Whether you’re committing to your health temporarily or for the foreseeable future, try your hand at these time-tested, fitness instructor-approved moves designed to work out your entire body. You might just find that with a bit of dedication and good, hard work, you can replicate the results you’d get from any gym this summer, right in your parents’ home or off-campus apartment.