Are you feeling tired and somewhat overcome by springtime lethargy? We do too, which is why Michael and I visited Jürgen Hager at Loft 41. He is a former pro tennis player and now coaches athletics, fitness and coordination as well as “burnout prevention”. Under his guidance, we tried out (more or less) ten simple exercises ourselves.
Before we really got started, Jürgen showed us a few warm-up exercises. Here are three of them:
And here are ten exercises that you will most likely be able to do at home:
1) Forearm crutch variations
Also known as „planks“: Jürgen shows us exercises for our forearms and sides, which simultaneously train stabilization and balance. The fewer points of contact you have with the floor, the more wobbly and exhausting this exercise will be.
Repetitions/duration: Jürgen recommends that you perform all three starting positions (exercises 1 & 2) in direct succession and hold each of them for 30 seconds. Over time, you should be able to hold them for longer and/or increase the level of difficulty.
What the pro has to say: The main objective of a plank is to hold the position for as long as possible. It is important to keep a straight back and not “sag”. Quality is by far more important than quantity or duration!
2) Leg stretches whilst lying on your back
Lie on your back and push your backside upwards. Stretch one leg upwards, followed by the other. Your torso should remain still.
Repetitions/duration: see exercise 1
3) Balance exercises whilst sitting
Sit down, raise your legs and keep your balance, then push your fists firmly against the inside of your knees for 30 seconds. Then push your fists against the outside of your knees. Your feet should never touch the ground during this exercise.
Repetitions/duration: Similar to the planks, you should perform each of these exercises for 30 seconds and your legs should never touch the floor.
What the pro has to say: It is important to keep a straight back for this exercise too, in order to work the whole body.
4) Hopping on one leg
It might sound uber-simple, but in reality, it is not always that easy. Especially when you try to keep balance on one leg. The softer the underground, the harder it gets. Here you train your leg muscles and balance simultaneously. If you want to take it a step further, try to turn whilst jumping. Clockwise first and then in the other direction.
Repetitions/duration: 10 to 15 jumps per leg, repeat the procedure twice per leg.
What the pro has to say: It is important to try to stabilise your torso and knee immediately after landing and then try to maintain the position for 2 seconds. Try doing it without your shoes on!
5) „Pyramid training“: breast pass whilst sitting
Balance whilst sitting (see exercise 3), push a ball down next to you on alternate sides three times. Pass the ball to your partner as hard as possible. Increase the number of left-right ball movements between each pass (three times to start with, then four etc.) and then count back down to three.
Repetitions/duration: You can choose the number of repetitions yourself. Start, for example, with nine. Repeat the procedure twice with a 90 second break in-between.
What the pro has to say: It is important to keep your balance and keep your legs off the floor.
6) Sense of rhythm
Hop on one leg, once left, twice right, three-times left and repeat the procedure without a break. It is harder than it looks and great for coordination skills.
Repetitions/duration: Repeat this exercise for so long until you can practically do it in your sleep. When it becomes easy, you can make it harder by alternating legs at every odd number of leg counts (1-3-5-7 etc.).
What the pro has to say: This is all about maintaining concentration.
7) Shake it!
Take a half-filled water bottle and stand with your legs slightly bent. Hold the bottle as high as possible over your head. Shake the bottle back and forth in small movements. Second variation: shake the bottle to the left and right in small movements. It is important to tense your stomach and back muscles during this exercise. The longer you keep going, the more strenuous it gets.
Repetitions/duration: Perform both variants for around 30 seconds, take a 90-second break, then repeat.
What the pro has to say: Body tension is important for this exercise. The movements must stem from the shoulder, which is why they should only be small.
8) Leg taps
Balance on one leg, hold the elastic band in front of your body and try to pull it apart. Tap to the front and behind with your other leg. For a change, you could also tap to the side or in circles.
Repetitions/duration: 10 to 15 repeats per leg and complete the programme twice.
What the pro has to say: The deeper you bend your supporting leg, the more „strenuous“ or effective this exercise will be.
9) Mental exercise with tennis balls
Throw 2 tennis balls up in the air, cross your hands and catch the balls. If you can manage this, you can try doing it with your palms facing down, or while making sidesteps. This exercise is not strenuous, but it trains your concentration and coordination.
Repetitions/duration: Repeat this exercise for so long until you can make ten catches without error. Increase the level of difficulty successively by introducing a sidestep or lunge after every throw.
What the pro has to say: This is all about concentration.
10) Ball exercises lying on your front
Stretch your hands out in front of you while lying on your front and pull them back towards your body. Neither arms nor feet should touch the floor. You can see three variations of this exercise here. It gets more strenuous if you use light dumbbells or weights (0.5-2 kilogramme) instead of balls.
Repetitions/duration: Perform each variant for around 30 seconds, before taking a 30-second break.
What the pro has to say: It is important to maintain good body tension for this exercise.
You will find even more tips in „The 5 Exercise Workout At-Home“ by Michael, who posted this blog at the start of the winter season. You can, of course, do these exercises in summer too :)