Well.ca’s CMO Erin tries to get to the gym as often as she can but “my husband travels a lot for work, which means I need a program that I can do at home before the kids get up!”
Enter a ball and a band! Stability balls are great for working your core, balance and strength and we love resistance bands: “They are so versatile and work the muscles constantly – you can focus on both the concentric (the lifting) and the eccentric (the lowering) part of the movements,” says Erin Phelan, a Toronto-based fitness/health expert and personal trainer. “It is easy to fix them to door handles and pillars to get pulling actions. When I design a program for a client, I want to make sure they are going through all the ranges of motion, and targeting as many body parts as they can in effective, compound movements. I know Erin’s tough, so I designed her “12 in 12” to challenge her – but, you can modify the movements (see below for details.) easily.”
The Well 12 in 12 At-Home Workout
- Stability Ball (choose one based on your height – a 65 cm ball is great for people of average height)
- Resistance Band (get a few different bands in a range of resistance levels – you want to be able to get stronger and have the band challenge you)
- Yoga Mat
- Phone/Stop Watch (you can use a stopwatch, or a stopwatch app on your phone – Ultra Timer is our fave)
After warming up, you will do each exercise for 1 Minute.
Beginners: try 30 seconds work, 30 seconds recovery. Build to 40 seconds work/20 seconds recovery, and then the full minute.
1. March/Run: March on the spot for 30 seconds; take it to a light jog 30 seconds.
2. Knee Hug: One at a time, bring your knee into your chest, give it a squeeze, and release it. Do this for 30 seconds
3. Basic Squat: “A squat is a compound movement that works through both your knee and hip joints, and challenges your leg muscles. We want to put these in the warm up to get our legs ready for the program,” says Phelan. Take your feet hip distance apart. Next, like you are sitting in a low chair, point your tailbone back, lowering your glutes. Push through your whole foot, driving back up to standing. Repeat for 1 minute.
4. Walk-0uts: “There is going to be a lot of upper body in this workout, so we need to get the chest, back and shoulders warm. Start standing, then fold your upper body forward, hinging at the hips (bend your knees if you need to). Reach for the floor, and walk your hands out so that you are in a high plank position (hands are stacked with your shoulders, and your whole body is in one long line as you balance on your toes). If you need to regress this, drop to your knees once you have walked out. Walk your hands back into your feet, and stand up. Repeat 5 times.
Set Stopwatch/Timer for 1 MINUTE. At the completion of each minute, move onto the next movement.
“This is a great compound movement that targets your glutes, quads, calves and biceps,” says Phelan. “I call this a ‘2 for 1’’ movement!
Step One: Take resistance band underneath the ball of your left foot. Loosely grip handles in each hand. Lift arms so elbow is bent at 90 degrees, hands in a fist. The forearm should be extended from your elbow in a straight line, the elbows tucked into your sides, and the bicep engaged.
Step Two: Take right leg back into a lunge position, up on the ball of the foot, leg long with a soft bend in the knee. Working both arms at a time, bring fists into shoulders. As you do the bicep curl, lower your right knee down so the calf is parallel with the floor.
Step Three: Keeping tension in the band, return arms to starting position (the bicep should be engaged the whole time), keeping elbows tucked by your side. As you return your arms to staring position, straighten the leg. Repeat for one minute.
Beginner Modification: Do one arm at a time (instead of both arm bicep curls); do 30 seconds work/30 seconds rest or 40 seconds work/20 seconds rest.
2. Forward Hinge Lat Pull
“This is a great exercise for the latissimus dorsi– the big back muscles. We need to work on our back more,” says Phelan. “Most of us tend to sit all day; strengthening muscles down our posterior chain is essential, especially as we get older.”
Step One: Place resistance band under both feet, grab the handles with each hand. Rotate palms so they face the outer thigh.
Step Two: Hinge forward at the waist, keeping hips back, folding in half so your back is parallel with the floor and hips are at either 45 or 90 degrees.
Step Three: Draw handles up to the rib cage, tucking your elbows in at your sides, and wrapping the elbow around the back. Band should be taut. Squeeze shoulder blades together. Slowly lower the bands back down to the floor
Beginner Modification: Do one arm at a time; step on band with only one foot.
Repeat exercise #1, this time on the other side (hello biceps!!!)
4. Ball Push Ups/Elbow Plank
Step One: Position yourself prone on top of the ball (facing the floor). Feet should touch the floor to get into position. Roll forward on the ball, walking your hands out so they are in push-up/high plank position, hands shoulder width apart.
(Ball can be positioned directly under your thighs, or you can roll the ball out towards your toes. The further the ball is away from your centre of gravity, the harder the movement.)
Step Two: Bending at your elbows, lower your chest towards the floor. From here, come down onto your elbows. Tighten your core by pulling your navel into your spine. “You are working the transverse abs, inner lining of your core, as well as your upper body,” says Phelan. “Try to imagine you are getting into a pair of jeans you have thrown in the dryer for an hour! Suck in your belly button, without holding your breath.”
Step Three: Press off your elbows so your palms are back on the floor. Straighten arms to complete the push-up.
Beginner Modification: “There are lots of options here. You can hold a ball plank by getting into that elbow position and holding it for one minute. You can keep thighs on the ball and do mini-push-ups. This is a tough one, so you might want to build up to it,” says Phelan. “Or, you can just do a set of push-ups from your knees or toes.
5. Seated Upper Pull
Step One: Sit tall on yoga mat, with legs extended in front of you. Take resistance band and loop it around each foot.
Step Two: Take one handle in each hand, with your knuckles facing the ceiling. Pulling your shoulder blades back and together, pull the band back, drawing handles in at chest/shoulder height.
Step Three: Slowly release the band back to the toes, keeping back straight. “This is great for the upper back,” says Phelan.
Beginner Modification: Do one arm at a time.
6. Cardio Blitz: Mountain Climbers/Jumping Jacks/High Knees
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a big buzz in the industry because it produces results. The idea of this minute is to get your heart rate HIGH choosing a cardio activity that will challenge you – and that you like. Erin chose Mountain Climbers, but you can run on the spot, do high knees, jumping jacks, or skip on the spot. The key thing: sweat!!!
Mountain Climbers: Get into a high plank position, with shoulders stacked with wrists, and legs extended behind you. Draw one knee into the chest sharply, and then extend the leg straight behind you as your draw the other knee in. Repeat.
Beginner Modification: Mix it up – do 10 seconds work/10 rest, increasing your work to rest ratio until you build up to one minute.
7. Lateral Lunge with Side Raise
I love this exercise because it introduces a new range of movement – moving laterally. It is great for the glutes.
Step One: Stand on the band with your left foot, holding handles in each hand. With the right leg, take a large step out to the right side, bending at the knee, pressing your hips back. The non-working leg should be straight. Angle the knee straight over your toe, instead of out to the side.
Step Two: As you lunge, extend opposite arm out to shoulder height (or lift both arms out!)
Step Three: Driving through the whole foot, pushing back up, bringing feet together and release the band to starting position.
Beginner Modification: Do the lateral lunges without the shoulder lifts. Or, do lateral lunges without the resistance band.
8. Ball Back Extension
Step One: Lying on top of the ball, place your hips directly underneath the ball, keeping your feet on the ground. Chest should be off the ball, and midsection should be connected to the ball.
Step Two: Double up the resistance band, and grab it lightly in both hands, pulling it taut. Extend both arms away from your shoulders in a straight line.
Step Three: Slowly lift your upper body up, as far as is comfortable, away from the floor. This is a small movement for your lower back muscles. Lower down slowly.
Beginner Modification: Do this movement on the yoga mat. Lie flat on the floor, arms straight in front of you (like a Superman). Gently lift shoulders off the floor, squeezing shoulder blades back and together. Lower down.
9. Stationary Lunge/Tricep Extension
Step One: Step right leg back in a lunge. Grab the end of the band and raise your arm so your elbow is pointed to the ceiling, and the band is hanging down the centre of your back. Grab the other end of the band with your other hand, so palm is facing away from your back.
Step Two: As you lunge your back knee to the floor, straighten the top arm up to the ceiling. Try to keep the elbow and shoulder joints aligned.
Step Three: Straighten the leg, and bring the band back down from the ceiling.
Switch legs and arms after 30 seconds.
10. Core Roll/Down
Step One: Sit tall, with both legs extended in front of you. Loop the band around the balls of the feet. Pull your belly button in.
Step Two: Keeping elbows tucked into your side, use the tension on the resistance band as you slowly roll down to the floor, vertebrae by vertebrae.
Step Three: Pause, then slowly come back up, stacking your shoulders with your hips. Repeat rolling up and down. “This involves a lot of core strength,” says Phelan.
11. Squat with Anterior Lift
Step One: Stand on the band with both feet, one handle in each hand, palms facing the thighs.
Step Two: Lower your glutes back and down, pointing your tailbone to your heels, hinging at the hips and bending in the knees. Try to imagine you are slowly easing your bum onto a low chair. As you go down, lift one arm straight in front of you.
Step Three: Pushing through the balls of your feet, straighten your legs, and release the arm back to your thigh.
Beginner Modification: Do the squats without the arm raises.
12. Cardio Blitz: Repeat your cardio minute – switch it up!
Try a Speed Skate, Jumping Jacks or High Knees. Finish with a Bang!
Click here for Part 1: Rebecca’s Anytime of Day Yoga Sequence
Erin Phelan, MA, is a certified fitness and health practitioner with over 20 years in the fitness and health industry. Erin teaches for Equinox Fitness, and is a proud work-at-home mom to Lily, 11 and Teague, 8.