Burpees: Maybe you love them, maybe you hate them, but are you even doing them correctly? For a quick workout, burpees target the legs, butt, chest, and shoulders, all while accelerating the heart rate for maximum calorie burn, says Adam Rosante, certified CFT and specialist in fitness nutrition and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. To properly perform a burpee, stand with feet hip-width apart. Crouch down and place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders, then jump your feet back to land in a push-up, or plank, position. Be sure to lower your entire body to the floor, then press back up to the starting push-up position and hop the feet forward, returning to the original crouched position. “Explosively jump straight up, clapping the hands overhead,” Rosante says. “Land softly and repeat.” To modify this powerful move, step your feet back, one at a time, into the plank position. Drop your knees to the floor before lowering your body and then step the feet forward, one at a time, to return to the crouched position. Stand straight up and rise onto the balls of your feet, then clap your hands overhead to complete the first movement. Be sure to steer clear of these fitness moves that work against you.
Squats are also a full-body movement, engaging your core while strengthening your glutes and quads. Robin Arzon, an RRCA certified running coach, NASM certified personal trainer, and Schwinn spin instructor, says to relax your upper body and keep your shoulders away from your ears. Stand with your feet spread, shoulder-width distance apart, and begin to engage your core and bring your hips back. Sit back as if you were aiming for a chair that was 90 degrees or lower. “You don’t want to overextend your lower back, [as to] protect your spinal column,” she says. “You want to get below the 90 degree angle with your hips and glutes to really fully activate your glutes and quads.” Your weight should be closer to the balls of your heel, so that you could wiggle your toes at the bottom of the move. This enables you to push yourself back up. To make this quick workout move more challenging, hold a weight in your hands.
Starbursts or jumping jacks
Starbursts are a fun take on the classic jumping jack. To complete this exercise, stand with your feet together, keeping your arms by your sides. “Contract your core and bring your hands to touch at your chest as you lower into a 1/4 squat,” Rosante says. “[Then] explosively jump up, extending your arms and legs out, mid-air, to form an X with your body.” Land softly and repeat. For a similar exercise, stick to the tried-and-true jumping jack.
To properly do a push-up, you want your wrists beneath your shoulders, and your shoulder away from your ears and you want to be thinking from the top of your head all the way to your feet, says Arzon. You should be in a straight line without any peaks or valleys. “So no dipping your belly or arching your back,” Arzon warns. “Keep your butt down.” Keep the weight in your core, making your core active. Begin to bring your chest as close to the ground as possible by bending your elbows, then push your self back up. Push-ups can be modified by coming onto your knees, but you must maintain the neutral alignment. Arzon recommends push-ups to target the arms. You can also use these moves to get stronger arms without lifting weights.
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Lunges are a staple to any strength training basic routine. Reverse lunges are a variation of the classic alternating front lunges. These will work the glutes, thighs, and calves. Standing with feet hip-width apart, step your left foot back, keeping that heel raised, says Rosante. Lower with slow control until the back knee is just above the ground. Press through your front heel to return to start. Do approximately 12 on this side, then alternate sides to balance out the exercise.
Lateral lunges are another lunge variation. Again, stand with feet hip-width apart. Step the left foot out to the left and press your hips back, bending the left knee and straightening out your right leg to lower as far as you can. Be sure to maintain the natural curve of your lower back, Rosante says, then press through your left heel to return to start. Do approximately 12 reps on this side, then switch sides and repeat.
Simply put, nothing works your core quite like the plank. Arzon says plank is the foundation for many moves, primarily the push-up, as described before. A variation of a high-plank is to come onto your forearms. Rosante recommends starting on your hands and knees. Lower your forearms to the floor with elbows positioned underneath your shoulders. Then step your feet back, one at a time. Rosante echoes Arzon’s straight line positioning. “Maintain a straight line from head to heels; pull your belly button in and up and squeeze your abs tightly,” he says. Hold for 30 seconds, or go the extra mile and take on the minute. Here are other exercises for better abs without crunches.