As the world locks down, people everywhere are confined to their homes. And, during this self-enforced state of house arrest you would be hard pressed to find anyone boasting of space in Japan, where small apartments with small rooms are the norm. For those who want to stay fit, home workouts are proven to be effective. But, how do you workout from such traditionally small apartments?
Even with the lack of space and furnishings of the smallest of Tokyo apartments, there are still ways to stay in shape without risking the great outdoors
1. Bulgarian Split Squats
Leg muscles make up a good chunk of your body so it’s best not to skip leg day, even stuck at home. These will work both the front and back sides of your legs, and hit them hard. All you need for Bulgarian split squats is a chair or stable surface at around knee height. Prop one leg up, foot facing down, on the chosen surface. Step out as wide as comfortable with your other leg. Keep your back straight and lower your hips until your front knee is bent slightly below 90 degrees. Push back up from your heel while keeping your front foot flat and facing forward. Then just repeat a few times and change legs. Focus on controlling the movement on both ends for the most benefit.
2. Inverted Rows
Sitting in front of a computer all day without exercising your back muscles can cause rounding and create posture issues into the future. Bad news is, it’s really difficult to get an effective back workout without equipment. Good news is, Japanese apartments are uniquely equipped to solve this. The horizontal divide in most Japanese closets can be a perfect “bar” to do inverted rows. Lie down with your head in the closet, under the horizontal divider, with your legs sticking out. Get a firm grip on the divider and pull up so that your chest touches it. Focus on squeezing your shoulder-blades together at the top of the movement to really accentuate the back muscles. Make sure to keep your body straight without letting your hips drop.
3. Deltoid Raises
Stronger shoulders will also help with posture, preventing neck-aches, and generally support daily arm usage. To do delt raises, simply put an appropriate amount of weight in a bag. This could be textbooks in a backpack or a plastic bag with stockpiled groceries, whatever you have. Pick it up by the handle with one arm. Stand straight and lift the bag out to your side until your arm is at about shoulder-level then slowly lower it back down. Side raises will mostly work the top of your shoulder, but you can work the front as well by lifting your arms forward instead. Watch out that you are positioned comfortably so your shoulder isn’t popping or grinding and keep your arm straight, but not locked, as you raise it. Make sure you’re lifting with your own strength and not relying on momentum.
The king of at home workouts will always be the push-up. These will mostly work your chest, arms, and shoulders and are perfect for burning fat, building upper body muscle, and improving functional strength. The movement is simple and pretty much everyone has done them at some point. If a standard push-up isn’t cutting it for you there are many different variants. For example, you can focus on upper chest by elevating your legs, or even shoulders by making your body a V shape. Because they’re so simple, it’s important to really focus on form and not get sloppy. Keep your back as straight as possible and make sure your chest is touching the ground at the bottom for the best results.
The good thing about abdominal workouts in this crisis induced stay-cation is that even in the before time when gyms were open and people went outside the best ab movements never used much equipment. While abdominal workouts won’t give you a rippling six pack on their own, core strength is still important. Abs are stabilizers and support muscles in essentially all forms of movement from jogging, to just getting up from your chair. Even in the smallest apartments it should be possible to do planks, sit-up, and crunch variants. No matter what you pick, make sure to challenge yourself appropriately and keep good form and you’ll make good progress from home.