We all lead busy lives and sometimes it may seem impossible to fit exercising into our schedule. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, making the commitment to exercising 30 minutes at least 3 times a week can have an extremely positive effect on your long-term health. In this article I will provide you with some basic and effective body weight exercise regimens that can be incorporated in the morning before or after work (If you haven’t read my article about book-ending your days, here is the link http://thestrongprofessional.com/compound-effect/). This regimen along with a balanced diet will help move you towards living a healthy balanced life. Here are some of my recommended exercises:
Upper body (Pick 2-3 of these exercises):
Push-ups: 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps
Push-ups are a great exercise for building chest muscles and toning your arms. When doing your push-ups, keep your back straight on the decent and be sure to stop 2-3 inches above the ground before rising back up to the starting position. You should feel a nice burn if this is done correctly. The wider your hands are apart, the more you work your chest while the closer your hands are together, the more you work your triceps. Switch up different techniques to increase your results. For added difficulty place your feet on a sturdy, stable and elevated surface as you perform the exercise.
Bicep curls: 3-4 sets of 12 reps
This exercise helps you build and tone your show off muscles. Although I would recommend buying some dumbbells to do this work out, you can also use a hack to perform this exercise (dumbells are quite affordable online and can be used for various other workouts. Here is a link for some you may consider purchasing https://www.amazon.com/CAP-Barbell-40-pound-Adjustable-Dumbbell/dp/B000VCDXNS/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1469751685&sr=8-10&keywords=dumbbells). Filling up plastic shopping bags with household items will allow you to do your workout effectively without spending too much on equipment. Place your arms at your side with a weight in each hand and your palms facing away from you. Tuck your elbows into your sides and lift the weight towards your chest (hold for 2 seconds). Repeat this motion with your other arm. For added difficulty, increase the weight each set.
Burpees: 3-4 sets of 15
Combining three separate exercises (push-up, double leg mountain climber and squat jump) this full body exercise packs a punch. Make sure you thrust your legs all the way out on your extension, keep your back straight during your push-up, tuck your knees to your chest before finally executing the squat jump.
Tri-cep dips: 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps
Set up on the edge of a solid surface (i.e. Couch.). To begin the exercise turn your back to the edge, place your hands on the edge of the surface and extend your legs out in front of you. When you perform the dip, try to bend your arms 90 degrees before you extending them back to the start position. For added difficulty place your feet on a sturdy, stable and elevated surface as you perform your exercise.
Pull ups: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
This exercise will require you to have a bar (Here is a solid one for under $20 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CL29J60?psc=1). Place each hand on the respective handles and pull yourself up until your chin is just above the bar. If you need assistance with this exercise have someone hold your feet as you perform the exercise. For added difficulty, place a weighted object in-between your legs as you perform the exercise.
Lower Body (Pick 2-3 of these exercises):
Squats: 3-4 sets of 15
This exercise is one of the core Olympic lifts. Spread your legs about shoulder width apart and begin the squat by pretending you’re sitting in a chair. Throughout this lift it is important to keep your chest out, your chin up and your heels firmly planted on the floor. If you feel yourself falling forward it’s because you didn’t meet one or more of the previous criteria. Make sure you get your butt down to 90 degrees before coming up. For added difficulty see “Squat Jumps”.
Lunges: 3-4 sets of 15 each leg
This is one of my favorite leg workouts and it helps build strong quad muscles. Begin by standing up straight on a level surface. Extend one of your legs outward and bend your knee to 90 degrees. By doing this you should have one leg bent in front of you and the other behind you extended outward. Repeat this with your other leg. For added difficulty, Jump up into the air as you switch legs (Jumping Lunges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zLTDUFjbXA).
Squat Jumps: 3-4 sets of 12
Merging two great exercises together, the squat jump is a high intensity exercise that helps develop your fast twitch muscles. Get down in a squat position and once your knees are bent 90 degrees jump up into the air. Land on your feet and drop down into the squat position. Repeat this cycle until you have reached your total number of reps for that set. For added difficulty hold a weighted object while performing the exercise.
Wall Sits: 2-3 sets 45 sec – 1 min
You may look funny while doing it but this lower body exercise is extremely effective. Place your back against the wall and bring yourself down until the back of your legs (hamstrings) are parallel with the ground. Place your arms out in front of you and hold this position. For added difficulty (and a great shoulder exercise) grab a weight and turn it back and forth like a wheel while holding the position.
Step ups: 2-3 sets of 10 reps each leg
I don’t usually recommend climbing on top of things but in this case I’ll make an exception. For this exercise you will need a sturdy, flat and elevated surface that you will “Step up” on. As the name suggests, you will place your foot on the surface and step up onto it. As you are coming up on your step up, you will bring your other leg up so that your knee comes toward your chest. For added difficulty hold weight as you perform the exercise.
Cardio: (all exercises at least 30 minutes)
This is the first exercise most people think of when you talk about cardio exercises. I personally like to find a scenic route to run that is between 3-5 miles. For added difficulty increase total mileage and/or pace on your run.
For some of you, this form of cardio is not an option but I still love to include it. Swimming is one of my favorite cardio exercises because it works every muscle in your body. I recommend swimming anywhere from 400 – 800 meters for beginners. For added difficulty increase total distance and/or pace of your swim.
Sports incorporate teamwork, strategy and competition as well as are a great way to get a cardio workout. It doesn’t matter what sport you play just get out there and start moving!
Add these abdominal exercises to your workout each day
Abs (Pick 2-3 of these exercises)
Mountain Climbers: 3-4 sets of 50 reps
Find the hiker within you with this workout. Get into push-up position, keep your back straight and alternate tucking each knee to your chest. For added difficulty, tuck both knees towards your chest.
Bicycle Sit-ups: 3-4 sets of 50 reps
Ever wonder why cyclists have such a strong core? This exercise may have something to do with it. Lay flat on the ground with your hands behind your head. Begin to tuck one of your knees towards your chest while keeping the other leg pointed out. As you bring your knee towards your chest, slightly twist your torso so that your opposite elbow meets your knee as it comes towards your chest. Repeat this motion with your other leg. For added difficulty increase reps and/or sets.
Planks: 2-3 sets of 45 sec – 1 min
Planks are a great exercise for building a strong core. Place your forearms on the ground shoulder width apart and put your hands face down in front of you (use a yoga mat for added comfort). Hold this position until your time is up. For added difficulty alternate touching each hip to the ground while holding the plank.
Leg Lifts: 2-3 sets of 20 reps
To begin this exercise lay flat on a level surface and raise your feet 6 inches above the ground. While keeping your legs straight, lift your legs until your feet are pointed at the ceiling. Lower your legs to 6 inches above the ground. Repeat this motion until your set is completed. For added difficultly, try and touch your feet every time you raise them.
Complete each of these exercise regimens at least once during the week and repeat as you see fit. The goal is to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day at least 3 times a week. As with any habit, it will take time to get accustomed to your new routine. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away. You have committed yourself to your long-term goal of getting into shape and with that you have adopted a new mindset of achieving success. Do you have any exercises that work well in your exercise regimen? I would love to hear about them.
“The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod is a great book that talks about incorporating success practices into your morning routine. This book was instrumental in my decision to incorporate an exercise regimen into my morning routine. I have provided the link to the book below: