And, just like that, January is over!
How many of you have actually stayed true to your resolutions? Maybe you joined a gym and played around with different equipment, but don’t really know where to go from there. Or you’re changing the way you eat and would now like to incorporate more movement into your life – movement that will make you stronger and more stable.
Here’s a series of basic exercises (that I shared on Facebook in a 6-week series) that you can practice to improve your overall strength. You can do one at a time or combine them all for a full body workout 2-3 times a week.
I realize that I’ve been working out for a while, which may not be true for everyone. BUT the basics are still the basics, and mastering these exercises on their own is how you start and where you build from.
Breaking Down the Basics – The SQUAT
Begin by standing tall with arms extended in front of you as if you were in a vertical plank. Maintain a firm core and straight back. Stick your butt out behind you (as if you are about to sit in a chair), and keeping your arms at shoulder height, lower yourself into the “chair.” Pause, making sure your core is still firm and your back straight (think shoulder blades in your back pockets), then push the floor away with your feet as you stand back up.
Try 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions every other day for the next week. If you have mastered the squat, try slowing down the movement.
Breaking Down the Basics – The PLANK
When done really, truly correctly this exercise will set your body on fire – in a good way 🙂 It is a fundamental exercise that activates multiple muscles and builds stability and strength. So, please, work on your plank, because it is a base position for so many exercises and so beneficial.
Place hands under shoulders, keep a long neck (shoulders away from the ears), firm back and core and active glutes. Send energy through legs and out the heels. Breathe. Imagine someone trying to push you over and you resisting by holding your body firm.
Try 2-4 sets of 30 second holds, with 30 seconds rest, every day for the next week. I challenge you to ask a personal trainer to take a look at your form and make some tweaks. Even for me, when someone makes small adjustments, gives me additional cues, I feel it in all the right places.
Breaking Down the Basics – The GLUTE BRIDGE
This is one of the staples of my warm up because there are so many great VARIATIONS of the GLUTE BRIDGE.
Master the movement and then switch it up in countless ways to continue reaping the benefits (TRX Training has a version, too!)
Start lying on your back, knees bent, feet hip-width apart on the floor, keeping a long neck and arms at your sides with palms facing up. Keeping core firm, squeeze your glutes together, pushing hips up so they are in line with your knees and shoulder. Think about pushing knees away from hips. Slowly return to start.
Try 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions daily.
Breaking Down the Basics – The LUNGE
Again, like many of these exercises the beauty is in the countless variations, BUT getting the basics down is essential.
Stand tall as if in vertical plank position. With control, take a big step back with your left leg. Think about driving that knee to the floor so both knees are at 90 degrees, pause. Make sure your shoulders are down and back and your core is firm. Push back up to stand with your front leg. Repeat on the opposite side.
Stepping back is more gentle on the knees, stepping forward is more challenging and stepping to the side changes the dynamics more.
Try 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions (each leg) every other day.
Breaking Down the Basics – The BIRD/DOG
I’m not sure I fully appreciated this movement until recently. I’ve taken Pilates classes for about two years now and have been working on my hip stability and recently I also read Stuart McGill’s Back Mechanic, and that’s what really shed a lot of light on these basic powerful exercises.
Start on all fours in quadruped position, hands directly under shoulders, knees under hips. Slowly with control, extend opposite arm and leg, pause for 5-10 seconds. Keep the core solid, hips and shoulders level, long neck and feel the energy through your arms and legs. Slowly return to start then repeat on the other side.
Try 3 sets of 5 repetitions (on each side) daily.
Breaking Down the Basics -The PUSH-UP
Begin in plank position with hands under your shoulders (or slightly wider). Slowly lower your body in one stiff piece ( as low as you can without breaking form). Hover above the floor then push the floor away from your hands, your body moving in one stiff piece. If needed, try with hands on the counter/bench instead or placing knees on the floor.
Try 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions every other day.
Was this helpful? Do you have a question about an exercise? Feel free to reach out or visit my Facebook page.