Work (out) from home: Pro tips on back and leg exercises during lockdown

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This plan was devised for us by strength and conditioning specialist Deckline Leitao, who's worked with some of India's most successful athletes including Saina Nehwal, archer Deepika Kumari and Mary Kom.

The gyms are shut, the jogging tracks, tennis courts and swimming pools are out of bounds, and all you have is your bedroom or balcony or living room. You could pace up and down but we've got something better: a set of exercises that you could perform at home to simulate your outdoor exercise. These exercises are ideal for working in small spaces and with limited equipment and are great at building muscle endurance, cardiovascular fitness and mobility.

In the first of this two-part series, we give you five exercises for your lower back and legs.

1. Wall chair

A great move to build endurance in your quadriceps (front thighs) and improve lactic acid tolerance for sports like badminton, where long, exhausting rallies are involved, and for improving swimming kicking action. It can also help squash and table tennis players to stay in the low crouched position for longer. This exercise is also great for newbies to build basic endurance in the legs before graduating to more advanced leg exercises.

Beginner- 1 set x 1 min

Intermediate - 2 sets of 1.30 mins

Advanced- 3 sets x 2 mins

Video tutorial

2. Single legged deadlift

Good exercise for improving ankle stability which can help in sports requiring agility and change of direction, such as football, badminton, cricket (wicket-keeping in particular), basketball etc. Also a great exercise for maintaining hamstring flexibility and endurance. It will also help improve body balance and awareness.

Beginner - 1 set x 15 reps each leg

Intermediate - 2 x 20 reps each leg

Advanced - 3 sets x 20 reps each leg holding a dumbbell or 3 kg object

Video tutorial

3. Calf raises

Strong calves help the body propel itself forward powerfully during running between wickets in cricket, jumping high in basketball, tennis serves, badminton smashes etc. It will also help runners and football players. Make sure to hold the bottom portion of the exercise for one second to get a good stretch and improve ankle mobility.

Beginner - 1 set x 20 reps (with both legs)

Intermediate- 2 sets x 15 reps (with both legs)

Advanced - 3 sets x 15 reps (single leg)

Video tutorial

4. Skipping

An all-time favourite of boxers for building effective stamina and maintaining light footwork. This requires minimum space and just a simple rope to do the work. Make sure you wear sports shoes while doing this to minimise impact and perform on a rubber mat or grass. This is a quick fitness booster and the results can be quite striking, especially when it comes to building spatial awareness, coordination and 'quick feet' which will help in almost every sport requiring movement.

Beginner - 1 set x 3 mins

Intermediate- 2 sets x 5 mins

Advanced - 3 sets of 10 mins

*If doing it on hard surface and if you're new to it then limit to a maximum of 2/3 times a week.

Video tutorial

5. Hip flexor stretch

The hip flexor muscles can become short and tight due to long hours of sitting/inactivity and this can in turn indirectly contribute to lower back pain and reduced hip control. It can be particularly helpful for football players, swimmers and runners who need to use their legs a lot. Hold the stretched position for longer than 20 seconds. And perform more than three times each side as many time's as you wish during the day.

Video tutorial

Tips to remember

  • Perform all the exercises in a smooth and controlled manner.

  • Don't train to the point of exhaustion. Train at 60 to 75 percent of your maximum capacity.

  • Keep yourself hydrated and watch YouTube videos if you are not sure of the exercise techniques.

  • Build your physical capacity slowly and gradually. It's better to save some energy for the next days workout rather than get excited, push too much and then get a tendon strain or ligament sprain.

  • If in doubt about your capacity to perform the exercises, better to take it easy. The Olympics are postponed just in case you were planning to take part.

You can reach Dekcline through his website or his Facebook page.