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Ripped PT reveals the best workout to tone up before summer – and you can do it in front of the TV

ALTHOUGH the weather might not be much of a giveaway, summer is right on our doorstep. 

For many of us, the warmer months, filled with beach holidays and bikinis, drive us to get back into fitness.

Gemma Folkard uses Pilates to stay in shape
The founder of Shape Pilates has created a workout you can do in front of the TV

But with time in short supply, gym workouts might not be something you can squeeze into a hectic lifestyle.

An at-home workout can help though. 

Gemma Folkard, Founder of Shape Pilates, has put together a 20-minute low-impact, bodyweight workout that can be done in the comfort of your front room. 

It requires zero equipment and when done regularly (aim for three to four times a week) can help tighten and tone your body. 

To warm up, Gemma recommends starting on all fours with a cat cow stretch.

For this, inhale and tilt your pelvis back, let your belly drop down and take your gaze up for the cow pose. Then, tuck your tailbone, arch your spine up and drop your head, taking your gaze to your stomach. This is the cat pose.

Next, check out Gemma’s easy-to-follow video and give these pilates-inspired exercises a go, making sure you move slowly throughout each exercise to really make the most of each move.

1. Tricep dips with leg raises. 

6 to 8 reps on each side, moving slowly.

Gemma Folkard
Start position[/caption]
Gemma Folkard
Lowering into a tricep dip[/caption]

Get onto all fours and place the palms of your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. 

Gemma says: “Extend one leg away to around hip height without the lower back arching.

“Inhale to bend the elbows behind you (not to the sides) and dip the chest as the leg lifts, like a seesaw.

“Exhale to drive back up. Keep your hips square and your knee facing down to engage the glutes and stay aligned.”

To make this easier, remove the leg lift and keep your knee under your hip on the mat as you tricep dip.

“A combination move targeting the triceps, glutes and abdominals,” says Gemma.

2. Oblique crunch with hip opener and leg rainbows

6 to 8 reps on each side.

Gemma Folkard
Place one forearm on the mat and lift the opposite leg. Open the hips[/caption]
Gemma Folkard
Draw the knee to the shoulder[/caption]
Gemma Folkard
Move the leg behind in a arch, like a rainbow[/caption]

Gemma explains: “A combination move to mobilise the hip joint, fire up the waist line and strengthen the hips and glutes, specifically the gluteus medius, the side glute which is important for stability.”

Staying on all fours, keep one leg lifted. Place the opposite forearm onto the mat, elbow under your shoulder. Press the mat away to stay lengthened.

Gemma says: “Now open the hip outwards and extend your leg away and higher than the hip.

“Draw your knee to your shoulder and feel your waistline sinch in.

“Extend your leg away and take it behind the other foot like a big rainbow. Stay focused and engaged from the centre of your body.”

3. Spine stretch with leg extension

6 to 8 reps on each side, moving slowly. 

Gemma Folkard
Extend one leg behind you while on all fours[/caption]
Gemma Folkard
Bring the knee to the chest[/caption]

For the ultimate back stretch whilst working the abdominals, boosting your balance and improving your upper body stability, then give this move a go. 

On all fours again, extend one leg straight behind you before drawing the knee of that leg to your nose, arching your spine as you do so.

“Your focus here is controlling the stretch by using your abdominals,” says Gemma.

“Then, extend your leg behind as your spine lengthens to neutral. Avoid dipping the lower back by staying parallel with the leg and drawing the lower ribs up slightly.”

4. Lunges with arm raises

6 to 8 reps on each side. 

Gemma Folkard
Start in a lunge position[/caption]
Gemma Folkard
Straighten the back leg and extend the arms above your head[/caption]

“Raise your heart rate and work the whole of your lower body,” says Gemma. 

For this exercise, come to standing. Step back with one foot and inhale to bend the back knee so it sits just above the ground.

Draw your elbows to your ribs and maintain a forward gaze.

Exhale and shoot forwards at a diagonal, straightening your back leg and extending the arms in line with the ears. Then, come back to the deep lunge position. 

To make this harder, hold a light dumbbell in each hand.

To make the exercise easier, come to stand after each rep, to give your legs a small breather before dropping back into the lunge and repeating the exercise. 

5. Lunge hold with arm raises

12 reps on each side. 

Target the tiny, often ignored, stabilising muscles and challenge the lower body in this static position. You’ll also be working your arms and shoulders too.  

Gemma Folkard
Get into lunge position with an extended leg behind. Raise the arms then lower one, swapping repeatedly[/caption]

Gemma says: “Hold your lunge with your weight into the front leg and your knee over the ankle.

“With energy, reach both arms in line with the ears, lower one arm, then the other. Connect to the move and the muscles to create resistance.”

Too easy? Try using light weights for extra resistance. 

As you become more comfortable with the exercises, aim to increase the number of reps, working in a range of 10 to 12 reps. You can even repeat the entire circuit more than once and add ankle weights and wrist weights too, for extra resistance. 

If you fancy making the circuit a little easier, halve the reps to begin with and work your way back up. 

More ways to slim down before summer with minimal effort

Snack on nuts

INSTEAD of afternoon biscuits or a chocolate bar, snack on nuts.

They have repeatedly been shown to prevent weight gain and may even help weight loss.

If you cannot resist your favourite snacks, go for multi-packs of crisps, biscuits and chocolates that are smaller portioned.

Move after eating

TAKE a walk during your lunchbreak, get the chores done around the house after dinner, or take the dog for an evening stroll.

Claudia Dumond, a health coach and founder of wellness platform Minimondo, tells Sun Health: “Blood sugar levels spike within 60 to 90 minutes of eating.

“So getting moving soon after finishing a meal may prevent excessive spikes, which can in turn help to improve energy levels and mood.”

Fibre first

FIBRE is your best friend when it comes to weight loss.

A jacket potato topped with baked beans is loaded with the stuff (half the daily 30g recommendation).

A Chinese study found that people who ate 40g of resistant starch a day lost, on average, 3kg in eight weeks.

Read more tips here.


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