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You’ve heard of exercise, now try rest-ercise! Whether you’ve recently had a baby, have mobility issues – or are just gym-phobic – you can still work up a sweat on your sofa with these laid-back nano workouts…


  1. TV-toner

“Watch television while working out by lying on your back, knees up and feet on the floor and use an exercise band or dumbbells to lift both arms towards the ceiling,” says personal trainer Lorna Balfour from Passionate About Fitness. “Lower them down again, bending your elbows until they almost touch the mat and repeat.”

Target: triceps and chest.

Feeling fit? Keep going until your favourite programme ends!


  1. Pillow fight

“While you should avoid impactful activities like jumping or running after pregnancy, you can still burn the baby weight,” says London personal trainer Anna Reich. “Kneel in front of your sofa, resting on your heels, with something soft under your knees. Pile some pillows up in front of you, suck your tummy in and punch the ‘whatsits’ out of them for 30 seconds!”

Target: core, thighs, glutes, shoulders and abdominals (but also great for banishing the baby blues!)

Feeling fit? Lift and lower your bottom from your heels as well – and repeat both exercises back to back for five rounds, with 20 seconds rest in between.


  1. Bottom buster

Lie on your front, forehead resting on your arms and extend your legs behind you. Bend your left leg so the knee points out and place your foot on the back of your right knee. Keep your hips on the floor and squeeze your glutes, lifting the knee without raising the hip. Repeat on the other side.

Target: bottom and thighs.

Feeling fit? Do four more reps on each leg.


  1. Superslouch

“Lie face down with arms outstretched in front of you and as you take a deep breath in, lift your arms and legs away from the ground – creating a dish shape,” says Reich from A-PT. “Don’t bend at your knees and try to lift the legs as one, squeezing the glutes, and then lie back down.”

Target: back and glutes.

Feeling fit? Pull the elbows back and squeeze the shoulder blades at the same time. Hold for a beat, then return to your arms in front of you, and lower.


  1. Lounging lizard

“This heal slide is a great exercise for postnatal mums who want to strengthen their core muscles,” says TV fitness expert Jane Wake, who uses it as part of her Pilates Flow programme. “Lie on your back with your spine in neutral, knees bent and feet on the floor hip width apart. Place your fingers on your lower abdomen and connecting to your ‘inner core’, draw your pelvic floor muscles up inside you (like when you stop yourself going to the toilet). Pull up from the back (as if stopping wind) and then from the front (as if stopping wee), and draw your tummy in. Slide your right leg away along the floor, take another breath to bring your leg back and repeat on the other side. Keep drawing your tummy in as your legs move. Repeat 4 times on each leg.” 

Target: Inner core, abdominals and back.

Feeling fit? Do four more reps each side.


  1. Ad break abs

“Lie flat on the floor, arms stretched out behind you and grip a cushion with your feet, bringing it up above your hips. Take the cushion with your hands and pop it behind you, lowering the legs– and repeat,” says Reich.

Target: Abdominals.

Feeling fit? Repeat for a whole 10-minute ad break!


  1. 7. Reclining raise

“Lie on your side with your legs straight and angle the toes of the top foot slightly down towards the floor, with the heal facing up,” says personal trainer and fitness coach Gus Noble, from the Charlotte Ord Academy. “Keeping the foot in this position, raise the leg up, keeping it straight until you feel your hips twist under you, then slowly lower back down.”  

Target: Glutes and obliques.

Feeling fit? At the top of the exercise, rotate the leg in a circle 10 times one-way and 10 times the other.


  1. Sofa scissors

Lie on your back and scissor your legs or peddle them on an imaginary bike for one minute. Rest and repeat.

Target: Glutes and thighs.

Feeling fit? “For more of a cardio burn, try a ‘dry backstroke’,” says Reich. “Lie on your back and backstroke your arms over your head (tracing a crescent on the floor until they’re back at your sides) while lifting one leg up off the ground. Keep the breathing big and slow.”


  1. Supine stress-reliever

“The lifting, carrying and feeding of early motherhood can all end up as stored tension in our neck and shoulders,” says pregnancy and post-natal fitness expert Joanna Helcké, from Zest4Life in Loughborough. “So lying on the sofa, with your back in neutral and knees bent and feet flat, tuck the pelvis under while drawing the abdominals inwards and gently peel your spine – one vertebra at a time – off the sofa (don’t cheat and miss any!), until you’re in a diagonal line from shoulders to knees. Now float your arms over your head and start the roll back downwards, very slowly. Repeat until you feel mobility in the spine increasing and tension dissipating.”

Target: Shoulders, abdominals and hamstrings.

Feeling fit? “Do one leg at a time with the other one raised,” suggests Biggest Loser fitness expert Charlotte Ord.


And if it’s all too taxing…

Face yoga allows you to get ‘face fit’ while barely moving a muscle! Purportedly better than Botox for smoothing lines and plumping facial muscles, lie down and press your middle fingers onto the inner edge of your eyebrows and your index fingers onto the outer edge and look up, squinting as if looking into the sun. Relax (don’t fall asleep) and repeat.


Originally published in Essentials, 2015

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