This exercise is all about the whole body working together to strengthen core stability and balance. Keep flow in mind: Breathe with the movements and keep your body fluid. That means no locked knees and a strong back that doesn’t sag.
Stand upright with feet together. To keep your inner thighs tight and engaged, place a rolled up hand towel between them. Remove it but keep your thighs tight as though they were still holding the towel in place.
Place a band under one foot and hold an end in each hand.
Bring the “banded” foot up so the knee is at 90 degrees.
Extend your raised leg out behind you, reaching your arms forward.
Return to your starting position.
Kick the same leg forward in front of the body, as straight as you can, while curling your biceps.
Continue steps 1-6 for 5-10 reps, alternating legs. Strive for flowing, synchronized movements.
Have a few minutes in the kitchen to tone your chest, triceps, and core? Great! All you need is a counter for this exercise (or, if you’re at your office, you can use the edge of your desk).
Setup & Starting Position
Put hands on a counter shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back until your weight can shift to your toes and your shoulders are directly above your hands. You want a straight body line from your heels to your shoulders.
While keeping your elbows close to your sides, lower your body as far as you can, bringing your chest toward your hands. (Make sure your abs are tight!)
Once you are all the way down, press away from the counter back to the starting position.
Repeat for 3 sets of 15-20 pushups.
Sarah Egan, BS, CPT, HKC, CES, is the Personal Training Department Head with Nebraska Elite Sports & Fitness Complex. For more information, visit 2b-elite.com.
Think “good posture.” Doing standing exercises is a good way to focus on muscle groups while maintaining work in the core of the body. This workout is ideal to use as a fitness break—like at your office desk or in the kitchen while you’re waiting for food to cook. I personally like to do these exercises to wake up while I’m brushing my teeth or waiting for my coffee to brew.
To perform these moves, you’ll need open space and a sturdy chair or the back of a couch. With each exercise, keep the core of your body lengthened, creating a longer distance between the ribcage and hips.
Deep Knee Bends
With feet shoulder-width apart, extend arms forward and squat low, squeezing your butt and keeping your heels on the ground (Imagine you’re sitting in a child’s chair).
As you rise back to standing position, swing your arms back as you stand.
Place your hands on the back of a sturdy chair or couch with your feet about two feet apart, toes facing outward.
Bend your knees and lower down so your butt is level with your knees, keeping your butt tucked in.
Rise halfway and hold the position for 30 seconds.
Back-Angled Leg Lifts:
1. Place your hands on the back of a sturdy chair or couch and lift one leg backward, keeping your foot flexed (toes not pointed) and your heel pointed to the back of the room.
2. Lower and lift your leg for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Tip: Practice pulling and holding the navel to the spine, widening and flattening out your tummy when you’re sitting and standing throughout the day.
Peg Ryan is a Certified Personal Trainer/Group Fitness Trainer with Prairie Life Fitness in Omaha. For more information, visit prairielife.com.
Burpees are a very simple concept, yet they are difficult movements to execute across many repetitions, which makes them a total body workout. There’s no equipment needed, just your body and some floor space. However, coordination is necessary as you control your body throughout the properly timed movements of getting on the ground and back up. Burpees elicit a great metabolic (cardiovascular) stimulus. Depending on current level of strength, you may gain strength and body control. If the exercise is relatively simple for you, you will be able to move quicker and gain even more of a conditioning response.
This is an awesome exercise to work the hamstrings, buttocks, inner thighs, lower back, and lower abdomen, as well as upper body stabilizers. Think butt lift—not butt squeeze—and picture everything toned throughout the whole backside of the lower body! Thinking about these things while you are exercising is part of the traditional Pilates and yoga experience. Think about what you want, not what you don’t like.
To perform this move, you will need a large towel—like a beach or bath towel. That’s it!
Setup & Starting Position:
Fold a large towel in half and then in half again.
Lay on your belly with the towel under your pelvis, so that the towel is approximately between your belly button and the top of your thighs (Those with longer torsos or longer legs will need to adjust more to find the correct center of gravity needed for this movement).
Place your hands palms down under your forehead.
Engage your lower abdomen/core.
Lift both legs a few inches off the floor without sagging the lower back (Remember: Your abs must be engaged, so the lower back doesn’t strain with excess pressure).
“Beat” your heels together while lifted in the air.
Inhale for 5 beats and exhales for 5 beats (Remember: Going for “the burn” means a lack of oxygen, which will make your technique suffer; and when your technique suffers, your lower back and/or neck will strain forehead.)
Tip: If your lower back is hurting, that means the lower abdomen isn’t doing its job. To ease back strain, try only lifting one leg at a time and move slower to get control over the movement—then increase to faster beats and/or with both legs.
Cindy Cook is ACSM Certified and owner of Legacy Pilates, Yoga & More. For more information, visit mindbodyprograms.com.