A New Year, A New You – 10 Exercises To Strengthen Your Body

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You spent time with friends and family over the holidays and maybe already started making plans for this year’s outdoor adventures. It’s time to start a regular fitness routine. You have nothing to lose (except inches) and the benefits will increase your quality of life. Focus on cardiovascular activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises now for more enjoyment on the trails later.
Cardiorespiratory health (heart health) is the most important component of fitness. Your heart is the muscle that keeps you alive – plain and simple. The stronger your heart is, it will be able to pump more blood with each heartbeat – pumping less than an unfit heart.
Walking is probably the best form of cardio exercise to start with for your fitness journey. Walk the neighborhood, find some flat hikes to do, or get on the treadmill consistently 3-6 days a week. Even if it’s just 20 minutes, you’ll get the much needed heart healthy benefits!
Resistance training and flexibility cannot be overlooked either. These 10 exercises below will not only strengthen the entire body, but increase flexibility, range of motion, and reduce your risk of injuries in just 16 minutes flat!
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1.  Chest Press & Crunch

Targets chest and abdominals.
          • Lie on your back with your knees bent and heels pressed into the floor.
          • Simultaneously crunch and perform a chest press.
          • Hold at the top for 2-3 seconds before slowly lowering back to the floor.
          • Repeat for one minute.

2.  3-Point Back Row

Targets mid-back muscles and core stabilizers.
          • From a quadruped position, extend your left leg straight with toe touching the floor.
          • Perform one arm rows for 1 minute on each side.
          • To make this exercise harder, lift your foot off the floor (turns into a 2-point back row). Feel those core muscles stabilize you as you perform your rows!

3.  Airplane

Targets lower and mid-back muscles.
          • Lie on your stomach with arms extended out like an airplane.
          • Squeeze your glutes with your legs straight. Your knees aren’t touching the floor.
          • Pinch your shoulder blades and depress your shoulders away from your ears.
          • Slowly lift your chest with your abdominals in.
          • Hold for 2-3 seconds before slowly lowering back down.
          • Repeat for one minute.

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4.  Staggered Squat with Bicep Curl

Targets thighs, hips, and front of the arms.
          • Stand tall with your feet hip width.
          • Take a half a step forward with your right foot and keep your weight evenly distributed between both legs.
          • Keep both heels down and hips back as you lower into your squat.
          • Raise back up to standing and perform a bicep curl; Repeat for one minute.
          • Switch legs.

5.  Calf Raise with Overhead Tricep Extension

Targets the back of the lower leg and back of the arms.
          • Stand tall with your feet hip width.
          • Actively press your hands together into a dumbbell as you raise it overhead.
          • Simultaneously raise up onto the balls of your feet. Note: This will also challenge your balance.
          • Perform calf raises and tricep extensions for one minute.
          • To make this exercise easier, do just the calf raises with your arms down or just the tricep extensions with your feet flat.

6.  Warrior One

Targets full body strength and flexibility.
          • Stand tall with your feet hip width and hands on your hips.
          • Take a big step forward with your right foot and rotate your left foot out 45 degrees.
          • Plant the outside of your left (back) foot down as you bend your right (front) knee towards 90 degrees.
          • Slowly raise your arms overhead strong as you lengthen through both sides of your waist.
          • Hold position and focus on your breath for one minute.
          • Switch sides and repeat sequence.

7.  Extended Side Angle

Targets full body strength and flexibility.
          • Stand in a wide stance, feet about 3-4 feet apart.
          • Bring your right foot out to 90 degrees and your left foot in 15 degrees; Plant the outside edge of your left foot down (don’t roll your foot in).
          • Bend your right knee and place your right elbow on your thigh.
          • Extend your left arm overhead strong.
          • Hold position and breathe for one minute.
          • Switch sides and repeat sequence.

8.  Cobbler’s Pose

Targets inner thighs.
          • Sit tall with your feet together.
          • Lean forward any amount and hold for one minute.

9.  Sage Twist Pose

Targets hips and waist.
          • Sit tall with your right leg bent and left leg straight and pressing down into the ground.
          • Twist towards the right without jamming your spine.
          • Hold position for one minute focusing on your breath; switch sides.

10.  Supine Hamstring Stretch

Targets the back of the thigh and hips.
          • Lie on your back with a strap (or towel) around your right foot.
          • Actively press your left foot into the ground.
          • Gently pull the right leg towards you and breathe.
          • Hold position for one minute; switch sides.
*Consult your physician before starting any new exercise program.
 
 
 

About the author

Joy Konieczka is a certified personal fitness trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and has been in the fitness industry for 20 years. When she's not in the gym, she's spending time with her family and friends doing outdoor adventures in the Seattle area. She also promotes fitness and healthy living on her blog, Joy, Fitness, & Style (http://joyfitnessandstyle.com/). At the end of the day though, you may catch her watching a reality tv show (or two)!

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