As the new year commences, it offers an opportune moment to realign your priorities, particularly in your health and wellness journey. Whether you're initiating a new resolution or refining existing habits, now is the time to recalibrate and focus on your aspirations. Where are you in your health journey, and how do you plan to elevate it?
Regardless of where you are, it’s crucial to set realistic, attainable goals. Breaking them into milestones is pivotal for sustaining the motivation needed to progress.
Tips and Tools
Here are some best practices to help navigate your path to success:
- Embrace Enjoyment: Pick activities you genuinely enjoy; let fun fuel your progress.
- Employ S.M.A.R.T. Goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
- Opt for Convenience: Make it easy to stick with; consistency is crucial.
- All Activity Counts: Every bit adds up; it doesn't always have to be an optimal duration.
- Start Slow, Build Steadily: Don't rush; ease into it and progress gradually.
- Be Patient and Forgiving: Off days happen; don't be too hard on yourself.
- Establish Routine: Block dedicated time on your calendar for your wellness activities.
- Stay Flexible: Adapt to changes and roll with them. For example, when you travel and your schedule is off.
- Accountability Partner: Having someone by your side boosts commitment.
- Consider Facility Benefits: Joining a fitness center offers social support and motivation.
- Listen to Your Body: Rest and recovery are just as vital as the workout itself.
These tips will help guide you and keep you on track. Let's dig deeper into some other areas.
Depending on your goals, experience and preferences, working with a fitness expert could be a game-changer. You have a variety of options: onsite trainers at facilities, independent personal trainers, and the emerging trend of live virtual trainers. The latter, may also provide additional resources like 24/7 chat support and wellness coaching. FlexIt is an example, and one of the pioneers in the space. Technology can be your ally here—find what suits you best! Are you more inclined towards in-person, virtual, or a blend of both?
No Product; No Problem
When access to a gym or equipment is limited, your progress needn’t stall. Sometimes, all it takes is your bodyweight and a little creativity. Let’s explore some top exercises:
Bodyweight squats are a gold standard for a reason, and there are many variations to dial intensity up or down. They are a simple and effective, foundational, “anywhere, anytime” movement to incorporate into any goal.
- Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes turned slightly outward and arms at sides.
- Brace abdominal muscles to engage core and keep chest upright.
- On an inhale, hinge at hips to initiate the movement, then bend knees to lower into a squat position until thighs are parallel or almost parallel with the floor. (think - touch the chair)
- While lowering into the squat, simultaneously raise arms in front of body until they reach chest height.
- On an exhale, press into heels and mid-foot to straighten legs and return to standing, hips and torso rising at the same time and lowering arms back to sides.
The Single Leg or Pistol Squat is an advanced version that many strive for.
You don’t need a barbell to get in some great overhead squat work. A stable broomstick will do, or imagine you’re holding a barbell above your head.
- Reach your arms out with straight elbows in a “Y” shape, keeping your torso upright.
- Engage your lats to hold your imaginary barbell (or stick) in place above your head and very slightly behind you.
- Sink into a full squat and stand back up.
Another gold standard, this movement continues to be an essential in the exercise programs for professional athletes to recreational fitness enthusiasts. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced, there is a push-up variation for you.
- Get on the floor on all fours, positioning your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Extend your legs back so you are balanced on your hands and toes, your feet hip-width apart.
- Tighten your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine.
- Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself to the floor, until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
- Exhale while pushing back up through your hands, returning to the start position.
This is a modified version of the standard push-up performed on the knees rather than on the toes. Be sure to keep the knees, hips, and shoulders all in a straight line. Do not allow yourself to bend at the hips.
You can also do incline push-ups to make this exercise a bit easier.
- Stand several feet away from a stable structure such as a table or bench.
- Use the same push-up technique as above to lower yourself until the elbows are at 90 degrees, then raise back up.
- Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
The diamond push-up variation targets the triceps. It is done with your hands close together and the index fingers and thumbs of one hand touching the other hand, making a diamond shape on the floor. You then do push-ups with your hands touching the center of your chest and elbows close to your sides during each rep.
The plank is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscles, but primarily focuses on the core: the stomach (abdominals), the back (erector spinae), thighs (quads and hamstrings) and buttocks (glutes). The side plank variation also works the obliques.
- Lie out flat with legs stretched out behind you and head and shoulders raised up.
- Support yourself on your elbows with forearms flat on the floor.
- To begin the plank exercise, simply raise your legs up onto your toes.
- Your body should now be in a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Imagine you’re a surfboard.
Option to perform the plank from your hands vs. your forearms.
There should be no sagging at the hips. Simply hold this position and let the abs and back do all the work. Keep your head in a straight line with the rest of your body. You can also make the exercise harder by using just one leg and one arm to rest yourself, while balancing.
Hold the position for a few seconds, then rest before getting back into position for another few seconds. You can increase the time you hold the position and decrease the rest periods as you get stronger.
Side planks are similar to front planks, only with side planks you hold the plank position on your side, supported on just one arm. Same as the standard plank, you can hold the position resting on your forearm or shift higher up and use your hand. You can also raise one leg up to make the exercise feel harder.
These exercises serve as fundamental building blocks, adaptable to different settings and easily modified to target various muscle groups and difficulty levels.
Elevate Your Movement
Now, let's innovate these exercises with limited equipment. How can you amplify their impact, tweak intensity, enhance muscle activation, and introduce variety?
Consider using a simple household broomstick for these drills, and, of course, a Stick Mobility Training Stick is recommended. These sticks offer unparalleled flexibility and durability, unlocking a diverse range of strength and flexibility training possibilities beyond wooden dowels or regular broomsticks. Their flexibility facilitates deeper stretches and better leverage in movements, while their sturdy build ensures prolonged utility. Whether it's a wooden dowel or Training Stick, grab your tool and dive into this trio of exercises.
Having issues with your squats? Can’t maintain thoracic extension or are you lacking mobility of the ankles and hips? Perhaps your entire squat needs some work? The Dunphy Squat is a safe, quick, and effective way to see and, most importantly, feel an immediate improvement in your squat. Use this technique to help prep your body before you begin your squatting or use it as a stand-alone exercise. Try the Dunphy Squat and see if it helps you drop farther down into your squat!
Priming for Pushing/Pressing:
Looking for ways to improve your pressing strength? Try this “priming” drill to excite the central nervous system and prepare your body for exercises such as doing push-ups or bench pressing. “Priming” gives you a better connection with the tissues and joints that are going to be utilized during the upcoming movement. This allows you to gain a better feel for the exercise so that you can achieve optimal results. Give this drill a try before your next pushing day and see if you can feel the difference!
The Standing Plank not only works every upper body muscle, but it also fires up your core and back muscles, which help to stabilize your body through each movement. It can be progressed and regressed to accommodate any level of fitness and mobility. Drive the Training Stick into the ground while the hands are extended arms lengths away and angled in towards the body. See photo below. This works the natural arm drive and increases the tension and the force going through your core. This can be a demanding exercise and challenges you rotationally as well. Try the Standing Plank and see what you think.
Whether you're relying on bodyweight, exploring exercises with something from your home, or incorporating Stick Mobility Training Sticks, remember: your fitness journey revolves around flexibility, adaptability, and discovering what suits you best.
This path is uniquely yours. From simple bodyweight routines in your pajamas to personalized guidance from fitness professionals, virtual coaching sessions, or utilizing fitness apps, a myriad of resources exists to support, motivate, and guide your unique fitness mission. Enjoy every step of the journey!