We all can use a boost to our workouts in the New Year, a pick-me-up if you will. Here are four things you can add to your routine to push you to the next level in your quest to be a fit and better you.
A note: we are going to look at one total body workout, and three dynamic exercises that will both challenge and reward you. Remember, you should always be looking to add more diversity to your repertoire of workouts. This way you will promote muscle confusion, a key principle in developing muscle tone and avoiding the plateau that commonly affects gym-goers. If you have trouble adding to your arsenal, always think about a personal trainer. That's what they are paid to do! Now on to the top 4!
1. 52-Pick Up
You'll need a full deck to do it, but it might take playing with less than a full deck to pull it off. This is a complete, interchangeable, reusable, total body workout that can cost you as little as a pack of regular playing cards. The idea is simple. Assign a specific exercise to each suit. For example: Hearts are push-ups, Clubs are squats, Spades are bicycle crunches, and Diamonds are mountain climbers. You can vary the exercises, and switch up whenever you want. After you have assigned the suits, shuffle the deck and draw your first card. 9 of hearts you say? Then you'll do 9 push-ups. Immediately draw the next card. Perform that number of repetitions of the exercise. See if you can make it through the whole deck. Face cards count as 10 reps, Aces count as 11!
2. Lunge and Twist
Our first dynamic movement is the lunge and twist. This is not only going to focus on the legs (hamstrings, quads, glutes) but the twist will help you develop core strength, proprioception, and balance. Begin by holding a dumbbell long-ways between both hands, holding it about chest high and close to the body.
Begin by performing a lunge. If you lunge forward with your right leg, at the apex of your lunge, rotate your torso to the right side. Hold for one to three seconds. Return to the original position, and then repeat with the left leg. There are two ways I will recommend to complete this exercise. You can add in three to four sets of this exercise, performing 12 to 15 reps with a low weight dumbbell (five to 20 pound maximum). Alternatively, you can perform as many lunge twists as you can in a 30 to 45 second interval. Rest and repeat one to two more times.
3. Push Up Jacks
This exercise is designed to build stamina and endurance as well as upper and lower body strength. Begin in the push-up position and perform a regular push-up. As you return to the original position, splay your legs apart as if you were performing a jumping jack, and then bring them back together. Repeat the push-up, and then the push-up jack. Alternatively, you can make this more challenging by beginning standing, dropping to the push-up position, performing the exercise, and raising back up. Perform three to four sets of 12 to 15, or intervals of 30 to 45 seconds. Complete one to two additional intervals.
4. Flutter Kicks
Loved by special forces and military instructors around the world, and loathed by everyone else! This is a great exercise to build core strength, stamina, and endurance. The idea is simple. You lay flat on your back, preferably on a mat of some sort (a yoga mat works best). With arms at the sides and legs extended, lift the upper part of your torso and your legs off the ground. Simultaneously, you will alternately lift each leg up, in a "flutter kick" while not letting the legs or upper torso hit the ground. Again, I recommend two ways to perform them. You can add in three to four sets of this exercise, performing 12 to 15 reps. Alternatively, you can perform as many flutter kicks as you can in a 30 to 45 second interval. Rest and repeat one to two more times.
Incorporate these into your workouts and take yourself and your workouts to the next level.
Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports
Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as
well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University
of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur
athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity
to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with
amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed
Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at email@example.com.