Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Workout On the Cheap

You've decided to start working out, good for you!  But you're on a budget and can't afford a gym membership (or don't have one near you)?  Not a problem.  Here are some easy, low cost workout options.

Your cheapest (free) options are going to be body weight exercises.  Yup, that includes push- ups =)  There are plenty of modifications that you can do that will work with whatever fitness level you are at right now.

Upper Body Moves

Push- up: Place your hands and feet just wider than shoulder width apart with your hands in line with your shoulders.  Look just ahead, not down and tighten your butt and abs.  Bend your elbows and lower down as much as possible.  Pause at the bottom and then straighten the arms back to the starting position.

Modifications include using a wall to push against (incline), dropping to your knees, using a stair (decline) or varying how far or close together your hands are .

Tricep Dips: You will need a chair or bench for these exercises.  Place you hands on the chair with your fingers pointing towards you.  Straighten your legs out in front.  Keeping your elbows in line with your shoulders, lower yourself towards the ground.  Pause and then press back up to the starting position.

Modifications include keeping your knees bent, raising one leg or placing both legs on another chair.

Lower Body Moves

Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  Stick your butt back like you're closing the car door with your butt.  Slowly lower towards an imaginary chair.  Stop when your legs are parallel to the floor.  Stand back up tightening you butt and pressing down through the floor.  Remember to keep your knees above your ankles and not out forward over your toes.

Modifications include varying the width of you feet, holding one leg in front (one leg squat) and turning your toes in and out.  If needed in the beginning, you can use a chair for balance- place it next to you and place one hand on it.

Lunges: Take a big step forward with one foot.  Bring your back knee down close to the ground as you bend your front knee.  Remember to keep the knee over the ankle and not forward over the toes.  Straighten back up.  Repeat all your reps on one leg before switching.

Modifications include walking lunges.

Calf Raises:  Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  Raise your heels off the ground, lifting up onto your toes.  For balance you can place your hand on a chair.

Modifications include standing on a step and dropping your heels down below the step and then raising back up.

Core Exercises

Plank:  Assume the push- up position with your knees off the ground.  Tighten your core and your butt and hold as long as you can.  If it's more comfortable, you can place your forearms on the ground.  Make sure you keep your body in a straight line.  Do not let your hips get too high or too low.

Modifications include holding one leg off the ground or coming up on one arm with your feet stacked on top of each other (side plank).

Boat: Sit on the ground (or a yoga mat) and rock your weight back so you are balanced on your sit bones.  Bend your knees and lift your hands and feet off the ground.  Keeping your back straight and the chest lifted, straighten your legs.  Continue to life your legs as high as you can for as long as you can.

Modifications include adding a side twist (bringing both arms to one side and then the other) or lowering your upper and lower body down towards the ground- but still holding them off the ground.

Reverse Knee to Nose: Come onto all fours with straight arms and legs (plank position).  Lift one foot off the ground, bend the knee and bring it towards your nose.  Pause and then return leg to the starting position.  Without touching the toe to the ground, bring your knee back up for another rep.  When you've completed the reps on one side, switch legs.

Modifications include bringing your knee across your body to the opposite arm/ hand or bringing your knee to the outside of your arm (same side or opposite side).

Bicycle Crunches: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet lifted off the ground.  Place your hands behind your head with elbows out to the side (cradle your head in your hands).  Keep one leg bent as you bring the opposite elbow to the knee.  Pedal your legs as you alternate knee to elbow.

Easy, Peasy Cardio Options

Easiest cardio you can do at home for free is walking.  Lace up a pair of shoes, put the kids in a stroller or let them ride their bikes and head out the door.  You'll get more benefits and better results if you push the pace (that's why the kiddos should be in a stroller or on a bike ;)).  If you want, you can eventually work up to running, but make sure you get fitted for the proper shoe before you do that.

Indoor options include jumping jacks, burpees and, if you have stairs in your house, climbing up and down the stairs.  Break out your inner child and bear crawl, crab walk or leap frog down the hall.  Break out a jump rope and start jumping.


When stretching, it is important to remember not to bounce.  You want to hold the stretch at the point that it is uncomfortable, but not painful.

Tricep stretch:  Standing tall, lift one arm straight in the air with your palm facing back.  Bend at the elbow and gently reach for your shoulders/ upper back (behind your head).  Take your other hand and gently pull your elbow to your center line.  Hold for 5- 10 seconds.  Switch arms.

Shoulder stretch:  Gently pull your arm across your body at shoulder height.  Use your other arm to press your arm against your body.  Hold for 5-10 seconds.  Switch arms.

Hamstring stretch:  Without locking out your knees, gently fold forward at the waist.  Use your hands on your upper legs, knees, shins or floor for support.  Vary the width of your feet to vary the degree of difficulty.  Gently roll back up to a standing position.

Quad stretch: Standing on one leg, bend your other leg so that your heel touches your butt.  Keep your knees together and your leg in line with your body.  Use a chair for extra balance if needed.

Calf stretch:  Standing on the edge of a stair, gently drop your heels down.  

So, there it is.  A bunch of free workout options that you can do from home.  If you're still having problems putting a routine together, let Mom 4ce know.  We are more than happy to get you started with a routine and to cheer you on =)

Next week I'll cover some easy homemade weights and other equipment!


  1. Squats, planks and burpees... I have SUCH a love/hate with them LOL Great list!

    1. I know, but your body will love you for them ;)

  2. This is a great list that I can do even at home! I actually happen to love planks, lol!