Right, get up off the couch (you don’t have to move far) and limber up, Mark Laws has devised a workout that involves not having to leave you living room. Hurrah!
The clocks have changed, which means there is good news and bad news.
The bad news is it is officially now winter. The good news is that you don’t always have to leave your house in an effort to get your exercise fix.
Science tells us that during the next few months the gravitational pull from our sofa’s is at its strongest. So strong in fact, that you might not even be able to remove yourself from its warm snuggly vice-like grip.
Spare a thought for your hard-earned summer gains! It is not fair to let them waste away just because you feel like hibernating on your sofa with a cup of Ovaltine and the X-Factor for the foreseeable future… so I have devised a simple workout that fits nicely into an ad break and the very same sofa you may be unable to escape from.
You can either work through each exercise one at a time during the ad breaks, or you can perform the entire thing in one go and then reward yourself with a ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ marathon…don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about!
For each of the following exercises there is an easy option (A) and a harder option (B). Work through the A’s first and only move on to the B’s when you think you are ready. Rest as much as you need to between sets and if anything hurts at any time stop and have a sit down… maybe even a lie down!
1A – Box Squat x 20
Stand with your heels against the sofa, keep your eyes fixed on something just above head height, use your arms as a counter balance and lower your backside down slowly whilst keeping your torso as close to parallel to the wall as possible. Don’t actually sit onto the sofa but when you feel your backside touch the cushion, drive back up to the start position.
1B – Rear Elevated Box Squat x 10 L&R
From the Box Squat start position take a big step forwards with one leg. Now lift the back leg up and reach it back so that the toes are pressing down into the sofa cushion. Hold your arms out for balance again, keeps the eyes fixed on the same object and lower the knee of the back leg down towards the floor. Both knees should get to a 90-degree bend and then drive back to the top. Repeat this both sides.
2A – 1 leg cushion deadlift
Take a cushion off the sofa, place it on the floor and stand on it. Take one foot off the cushion and keep the knee of the standing leg very slightly unlocked. Now lift the non-standing leg up behind you and let your torso tip forward at the same time keeping a straight line from your shoulders all the way down to the non-standing heel.
Eventually aim to get your chest parallel to the floor so you create a capital T shape. Your ankle and hip will become much more stable, which will help when you start running again in January.
2B – 1 leg Hip Thrust
Lie on the floor with your backside a few inches from the sofa and your feet up on the cushion. Rest the heel of one foot into the cushion, raise the other foot into the air and hold your arms at 45 degrees to your torso. Now squeeze your bum cheeks together as tight as possible, drive the heel down into the sofa and the elbows down
into the floor. This will thrust your hips up
towards the ceiling. Pause at the top for a few seconds and then lower down slowly to the start position – say hello to your glutes as they are now well and truly awake.
3A – Hands Elevated push ups
No bodyweight routine would be complete without the mandatory push up. The easy option requires you to elevate your hands onto the arm of the sofa, then down onto the cushions, then onto a cushion on the floor.
Important thing with the push up is that there is a straight line from your heels, through your knees, hips, back and up to your shoulders. Ideally keep your elbows tucked in close to your ribs, but you can experiment with different hand positions to target the chest muscles a bit more.
3B – Feet Elevated push ups
The more difficult option requires you to elevate your feet. Initially the feet can be elevated onto a cushion on the floor, the the feet will elevate up on the cushion on the sofa, and the final progression will see your feet placed onto the arm of the sofa.
Again, the main priority is to keep a strong straight line from ankle to ear lobes and to keep those elbows tucked in nice and tight to the ribs.
4A – Mountain climbers
Get into a push up position with your feet on the floor, hands on the sofa cushions and a nice straight line from ankles to ear lobes, then lift one knee up towards your chest. To perform the exercise you will need to stabilise the weight of the body with your shoulders and switch the legs in a running motion, so one is driving up towards the chest as the other is driving down towards the floor. Once you have the technique sussed you can increase the speed. Although this is a nice low impact cardio drill we are more interested in the increased stability being developed at the shoulder. To ramp things up, try it one handed…
4B – Inverted Shoulder press
From a push up position (with feet elevated on the sofa and hands placed on the floor) walk your hands towards your feet until they are directly beneath your shoulders. Your body should now be in an inverted ‘L’ position. Now it is simply a case of lowering your head down towards the floor and then pressing yourself back to the start position. To increase the range of motion elevate your hands onto something thick like an Argos catalogue… if that is even still a thing!
5A – Side plank w/rotation
Rest one elbow on the sofa cushions, drive the hips up towards the ceiling and keep a nice straight line from your head through your spine, into your hips and down into your feet. So far this is just a static hold, which is ok… but I like to add movement. So take your free hand and reach down towards the floor before rotating it back up towards the ceiling. Repeat on both sides and pay attention to whether one side feels stronger than the other.
5B – Dragon flag
Lie in front of the sofa with your head against it, place both hands underneath the sofa and hold on tight. Now tuck your knees up to your chest and thrust your feet up towards the ceiling. If that is hard enough for now then simply lower the hips down and return to the start position. However, if your core is strong enough then you can lower the feet down towards the floor whilst constantly thrusting the hips up towards the ceiling. Initially concentrate on just lowering yourself to the floor and then reset, but eventually you’ll aim to lower the feet down close to the floor and then reverse the movement back to the top.
That completes my sofa workout. For the observant among you, you may have noticed that there is one crucial movement pattern missing – pulling.
It’s very tricky to perform any kind of bicep curl or rowing movement with a sofa, so my recommendation would be to smash out this workout as it is and give the other half a shout – dim the lights, light a few candles, hit play on your Barry White LP and do some pulling of your own… which I will NOT be providing you a guide for.
Mark is Head of Education for BodyPower, a Master Trainer for MyZone and the Owner of Mark Laws Performance Coaching. He can be contacted via @marklaws2011 on social media or by emailing email@example.com