Four ways to shape up fast at home

Last updated 09:43 14/01/2013

MUSCLE BOUND: You don't need a gym to work your muscles.

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I get asked lots of dumb questions in my job. Like "How many sit-ups do I need to do to get rid of this?" - which is usually punctuated with a finger pointed at a stomach that quite clearly has never sat up in its entire life. This is my cue to smile genially and try not to let my eyes roll back while I ramble on about kilojoules and exercise, because these kinds of questions are never asked with the desire for a genuine response.

But there is another question I often get that does interest me. Although the question is always the same - "What's your favourite exercise?" - the answer is often different because, like a pair of shoes or a lipstick colour, favourite things come and go.

So, here are my current faves. Functional body-weight exercises like these are fantastic because they can be done anywhere without equipment - and they really work. Although these will chisel you a steel-hard bod, they are definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Burpees are the new darling of the functional fitness aficionados. They justifiably reside in the "OMG-I'd-forgotten-how-hard-these-suckers-are" category, and score 8.5 on the vomit-meter. They work because you have to get down on the floor, then back up again, with each repetition necessitating a third lung to get enough oxygen into your body.

Facing the floor, on your hands and toes with your bum slightly elevated, skip your feet forwards to the left by bending your knees and contracting your abs, then go back to the start position. Repeat on the right side. Get some pace on by cracking out one a second. Do these 10 times each side and the world becomes a different place. Just keep telling yourself that pain is temporary and you're having fun.

Old-fashioned? Yes. Looks silly? Yes. Breakfast regurgitating? Yes. Support yourself with your hands behind you and your feet flat on the floor, then kick one foot up and down after the other like one of those funny Cossack dancers from Russia. Not so silly now, are they?

Stand upright and jump up, bringing your knees as high as you can. Land with your feet shoulder-width apart and drop down into a deep squat before repeating. Pretty simple, eh? Check the floor after 10 or so reps for any internal organs that may have left your body.

- Daily Life

What are your favourite exercises? Let us know in the comments below.

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