Well hey guys! How was the weekend? Adapting well to the time change? I’m so ready for Spring – it’s not even funny! Here in NC, Spring is BEAUTIFUL – the weather is warm and everything blooms. It comes a close second to Fall as being my favorite season (the mountains of NC are known for their changing leaves – you can come visit me anytime. …just call first).
Today, I wanted to share another “Back To Basics” post with you guys. If you’re new to this feature, “Back To Basics” is a blog series that aims to inform and inspire readers of all fitness levels by addressing the basics of health and fitness. Maybe you already know this stuff, maybe you don’t. I hope I can present it in a way that is either NEW and INFORMATIVE or as a REFRESHER. This week, I’ll show you five exercises that you should be performing on a regular basis. A few reminders before I get started:
1) While I am a certified personal trainer, I take no liability if you get injured while performing these moves. Be smart and listen to your body.
2) As with any strength training program, allow each muscle group at least 24 hours of rest before working it again. Don’t do squats two days in a row. Same goes for planks – I don’t believe in “Plank A Day” programs. Your muscles GROW while at REST – they need to be treated with respect.
5 Exercises Every Woman Should Do
1. The Overhead Squat
The overhead squat is a great lower body exercise that also engages the entire core and shoulder complex. Perfect for targeting quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, intrinsic core stabilizers, and the shoulders. A total body move!
How To: Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly out. Extend weighted bar over head, keeping arms straight and locked out the entire time. Squat down with arms overhead. Try to get thighs parallel with the ground – more advanced: drop slightly past parallel. Knees should not extend past the toes.
**Keep the weight in the heels. Chest pulled back and upright.
2. The Upright Row
The upright row targets one of the larger muscles of the body: the latissimus dorsi. Using larger muscle groups burns more calories than say, a bicep curl, where you’re only isolating a small muscle. The upright row also makes a great shoulder and upper back exercise!
How To: Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Grip weighted bar or dumbbells, palms facing the body and a little narrower than shoulder-width. Bring the weight up to chest height, elbows held higher than the weighted bar or dumbbells. Slowly lower back down.
3. The Lunge
A stationary or walking lunge is a great exercise that can be done anywhere! Targeting the quadriceps, gluteal muscles, calves and core muscles, the lunge is also the perfect move to slim your inner and outer thighs!
How To: Start with feet together. Lunge forward with one leg, creating a 90 degree angle with your shin and thigh (thigh parallel to the ground). Drop the knee of the opposite, back leg into a 90 degree angle. The load should be prominently on the front leg, engaging the quadriceps, glutes and calf. Push off the ground with the front leg and repeat on the opposite side.
**Avoid collapsing the core – hold it tight and upright throughout the exercise.
4. The Pushup
Often overlooked, the pushup is one of the best exercises that women can do! A beginner may start on their knees and work their way up into a full “boy” pushup. This strength move works the chest, core and back. One of my favorites!
How To: Start with body in a high plank position, arms extended and with shoulders directly over wrists. Lower the entire body down to the ground, then push back up with the arms into a high plank position.
**Avoid a low back arch (stomach falling toward the ground).
5. The Forearm Plank
Planking is now all the rage in the fitness realm! The plank exercise is a total body move, engaging the entire core, shoulders, back and lower body. It is particularly good for post-partum mothers, as it helps to restore strength to the intrinsic core stabilizers!
How To: Begin in a pushup position with feet and hands on the floor. Lower down onto your forearms. Hold for as long as you can, drawing the belly button towards the spine. Avoid a low back arch (stomach falling toward the ground). Try to keep a straight line drawn from your shoulders to your hips to your ankles.
More Back To Basics
QUESTION: Do you perform these exercises already?? I could have easily made this list longer as there are SO many great exercises that provide a good foundation – tell me – What would you to the “MOST IMPORTANT MOVES” list?