2018 was an interesting year for me. I faced big changes in my life and accepted great challenges from my peers. Let’s just say I lived outside of my comfort zone for extended periods of time. One thing remained constant for me throughout my journey — fitness. There were so many moments this past year when I did not want to move because my back hurt or knee hurt or I was too sore or too tired. The list of excuses was long.
Below are my 5 favorite exercises that kept me moving, feeling healthy and staying focused on my goals and challenges in front of me.
- Single Leg Glute Bridge: These are a unilateral movement that are important for correcting imbalances of the hip and knee by strengthening the lower back and core — and let’s be honest here, who doesn’t want a nice toned butt.
Perform this movement for 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions either lying flat on the floor or my favorite, shoulders elevated on a bench or couch if you are at home.
- Inchworms: These are a full body core strengthening movement that can bullet proof your lower back and shoulders. The more you extend the body the harder it has to work to remain stable. By extending your hands above your head you are working your stabilizing muscles from your fingers to your toes. At the same time improving mobility and flexibility of your joints and muscles.
Perform 5-8 inchworms in a row, pausing with your hands above your head for 3-5 sec. Did someone say rock hard tasty abs?
- Supine Torso Rotations: The body needs and wants to move through all planes of motion. In sports and life these are mandatory. However the transverse plane if often skipped. By moving the torso through the transverse plane (rotating your body from side to side) you will be activating and strengthening your core stabilizing muscles, especially your multifidi. These are a set of small muscles that connect your vertebrae to one another in order to stabilize the hip, back and spine. If you are experiencing any low back pain, this a the perfect exercise to start with to rehab/prehab your lower back.
Perform 3 sets of 10-20 torso rotations keeping your feet together and exhaling and reaching the opposite direction from your feet for each repetition.
- Single Arm Dumbbell Thrusters: This full body compound movement will torch calories and boost your power by working the prime movers (shoulders, triceps, glutes and quads) and stabilizing muscles (rotator cuff, subscapularis, transverse abdominus, gluteus medius). Compound movements are important because they work several joints and muscle groups at one time. Dumbbell training is a complex motor activity that requires a greater degree of control, strength and coordination to execute efficiently. Many activities in sports and life involve single arm movements — shutting a car door, spiking a volley ball, reaching overhead, etc. Both alternating and single arm dumbbell thrusters provides a unique training stimulus compared to that of a barbell.
Perform 3-4 sets 8-10 reps resting 45 sec between sets. If you can do 10 reps it’s not heavy enough.
- Strict Pull-Ups: Pull-ups are to your upper body what squats are to your lower body. Fundamentally, no other exercise will make your upper body stronger like a pull-up. Pull-ups are one of the most convenient exercises around. You can do a pull-up anywhere and anytime, off of a tree branch or a public bathroom stall. I once did a pull-up off of a broom handle between two chairs in a hotel room in China. I managed about 10 or so from a seated position on the floor before I broke the broom handle. Yikes! The pull-up focuses on core strength, stability, body control and awareness. The ability to contract and control one’s body in space without losing tension in their core is the key to most athletic moments in life.
Perform 3-5 sets for maximum repetitions resting 45 secs between sets. Enjoy the pump!
There you have it, folks. My 5 favorite exercises that helped me through small injuries and kept me moving and feeling healthy and focused on my goals through out 2018. Stay tuned for my next post. Rock hard tasty abs: Are they made in the kitchen or forged in the gym?