Why buy expensive equipment or join a gym when you can get fit for free in the comfort of your own home?
Planking is a fast route to a flat stomach, "but adding in a move with a tin of beans or similar will work the oblique and transverse muscles down the side of your abdomen", says Rob Jones, a personal trainer.
Lie face down on the floor, hands beneath your shoulders and toes tucked under. Have a tin of beans ready next to your right hand. Push up into a press-up position, then lift your left hand off the floor, reach round and grab the beans, and drag them across to the left to where you'll soon put your left hand back down. Place the hand back on the floor next to the beans, then repeat by lifting the right hand off the floor and dragging the beans back over.
Keep going for as long as you can and hold the plank with your body in a straight line and your head in line with your spine, looking at the floor.
Adding some height to this stretch makes it extra effective at toning the gluteal muscles in your bottom. "If you don't have stairs, use a strong box as a step," says Rob.
Lie on your back in front of some stairs (preferably with a mat beneath you for comfort). With arms by your side, palms facing down, place your toes on the first or second step with your knees bent. Lift your hips into the air and simultaneously raise your right foot off the step and kick your heel up towards the ceiling. Place the right foot back down. Keeping your hips in the air, repeat with the left leg. Keep your hips level throughout and try to get a rhythm going.
Do as many as you can in 30 seconds and aim to build up to more.
All you need is a broom. "This abdominal workout really targets the obliques that run down the side of your abdomen," says Rob.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding the broom out horizontally in front of you with your hands wider than your shoulders. Lift it over your head so it is directly above your shoulders. Engage your abdominal muscles and, ensuring you have enough space around you, start to twist from side to side. Make sure you keep breathing and pulling your abdominals in. Twist for 30 seconds, rest and repeat.
This is a compound move, meaning it works several muscle groups. "You'll target your hamstrings, glutes (bottom muscles), biceps and the top of your back," says Rob.
Grab two tins of baked beans or something similar and hold one in each hand, end to end. Stand with feet wide apart, toes pointing slightly outward, then bend your knees down into a deep squat (like a sumo wrestler). Keep your knees over your toes, your weight over your heels and your back straight. Bring the tins close to the floor in between your legs while maintaining a straight back. As you drive back up to stand, lift the tins up to beneath your chin by lifting the elbows up and out to be level with your ears. Do as many deadlifts as you can in 30 seconds, rest, then try once more.
Push-ups on an incline will give your arms and chest a serious challenge. Lie face down on the floor in front of a sofa, then place the tops of your feet on the seat and hands flat on the floor underneath your shoulders. Push up until your arms are straight and then lower yourself back down. Start with six to eight repetitions and aim to build up to more.
"Placing your hands closer together will put more emphasis on your triceps," says Rob. "And placing your feet even higher, on the arm of the sofa, will start to work the shoulders and upper part of the chest."
For more details on Rob Jones' techniques, visit stridefit.com
This way of 'planking' will work on your stomach and abdomen muscles. Photograph: David Levene