I don’t know about you but watching the Olympics is motivating me to get more serious about my health. Don’t know where to start? Here is a workout that you can start right now while watching these young and fit athetes strive to be their best.
More and more studies are showing that short bouts of exercise are just as beneficial as longer workouts. We all can spare 30 minutes, broken up into 10 minutes of exercise 3 times per day. Take 2 of those 10 minute blocks for a brisk walk, bike, or swim. Use the other 10 minutes for this easy strengthening routine below. Need more proof that exercise is the most important thing you can do for your health, watch this video.
I asked my friend Julie, a certified personal trainer, to put together a short strengthening routine utilizing all the major muscle groups without any equipment or use of a gym.
Guest Blog by Julie Mills
Being ‘fit’ is so much more than what you see in the mirror! It starts with nutrition and is rounded out with proper exercise. The great thing is, you don’t need a gym to do it in! As a veteran personal trainer, I actually prefer not using a gym because all that cumbersome equipment is simply not going to get your body working functionally, which means less calories burned and less accomplished physically overall. The following workout is a great routine that utilizes almost all of the muscles in the body, and can be done anywhere!
1) SIT/STANDS ~
a) Use a chair that you can sit and stand from without using your hands to push you up. Start by sitting very tall, with torso and thighs forming a 90-degree angle, as well as the thighs and calves being a 90-degree angle too. I prefer to place my hands in ‘prayer’ position in front of my sternum in order to remind myself to move my torso straight upward.
b) Feet are hip socket distance apart. Make sure to press into the ground firmly with your heels. Now, WITHOUT rocking or leaning forward or using your hands, press even more firmly into the heels and stand up, trying NOT to break the tallness of the torso. This will seem very foreign at first, because it is! But it is making you use important leg and core muscles this way! Slowly and with control (don’t plop) return to seated. Try for 10 SIT/STANDS to start.
Helpful hint: Try being very mindful about your exercise, don’t just ‘do’ it. This will recruit more muscle and help the mind/body connection. In a SIT/STAND, I am very conscious of first my heels on the floor and body staying tall. As I begin to rise, I very consciously ‘drive’ my hips upward by focusing on using my glutes (butt) muscles. My abdominals are also extremely active in order to maintain the upright posture that makes my legs work harder. Try it! (If this is too difficult, simply widen your stance to a sort-of plie’ position until you build enough strength to bring your legs closer together.)
2) WALL PLANK: Right after you’re done with your set of SIT/STANDS, it’s time to do: WALL PLANK ~In this position, your body will form a ‘straight line’ (just like a plank!) at a diagonal slant. Place hands on the wall right at shoulder width and slightly lower than chest height so you have room to step back and form your ‘plank’. Adjust your feet as far back as feels right for your strength level, standing high on your toes if possible. Draw the belly button in toward the spine, and think of ‘reaching’ toward your heels with your tailbone. This is a foundation for your WALL PLANK, making all of the core muscles work in unison. The abdominals should really feel this! Hold for 30 seconds.
Helpful hint: In perfecting your WALL PLANK form, be mindful of the muscles that make it a SOLID plank! Hands are firmly planted on the wall and arms are straight. Shoulders should NOT be in a shrugging position; they are to be pressing downward toward your hipbone. Maintain a flat back by applying the belly button/tailbone trick I spoke of above. Legs are super straight, and calves flexed to maintain toe rise. DON’T FORGET TO BREATH!
3) SEAL LIFTS: Immediately following WALL PLANK, lie on the floor on your belly, legs straight behind you, arms at your sides to perform SEAL LIFTS. Look at the floor so your head is in proper position (neck pulled back in alignment with the spine). Keeping legs and arms straight, contract the low back as you gently lift the upper body and legs off the floor at the same time (with arms lifting as high as possible). Hold for two seconds, and then slowly lower down. Maintain contraction (don’t rest between reps)and repeat the lift again for 10 repetitions.
Helpful hint: Again, don’t just ‘do’ this, be very mindful and go slowly and with control. Not only will you keep your body safe, you will again be recruiting more muscle fibers!
Once you’ve completed the SEAL LIFTS, have a few sips of water then begin another set of the three moves. As you progress, increase your repetitions as well as the sets (do 3 or 4 or 5!). Also, increase your angle of slant on the WALL PLANK, as well as time held. (You will find that as you get stronger, you may simply want to do a regular PLANK, which is done on the floor.)
Have fun, and BE HEALTHY!
Julie is a certified personal trainer based out of Nashville, TN. Her certifications began in 1998 with International Sports Sciences Association as a Certified Personal Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition and most recently is certified through Premier Global Training International, 2009.
For more health and fitness tips, connect with Julie on Facebook at Whole Body Fitness.