Busy with midterms or not interested in fighting the crowds at the SERF? With spring break just a little more than a week away, here are some fundamental exercises to build muscle and definition that you can do at home and can easily be implemented into your daily routine. First, picture your body as composed of three different sections: your upper body (everything from the chest up), mid-section (your abdomen), and the lower body (everything from the waist down).
Upper Body – Push Ups: Push ups force your body to balance itself, requiring muscle engagement from your arms, chest, shoulders, and even your core. To use your back and neck muscles, you can do wide armed push ups to create more of an emphasis on those muscle groups.
Good Push Up Form: 1. Lay facedown on the ground with your feet together. 2. Prop yourself up on your hands and toes. 3. Place hands directly below your shoulders for standard push ups OR slightly outside your shoulder length for wide armed push ups 4. Make sure your body is in a straight line from shoulders to heels. 5. Now, you are ready to lower yourself to the floor and push back to the starting position. Remember to not arch or slouch your torso!
Mid-Section – Crunches/Plank: Everyone’s mad about abs. But, doing ab exercises every day may not be the best for your abdominal muscles. Like every other muscle group in your body, your abdominal muscles need to rest. Working on them 2 or 3 days a week is adequate to getting great abs. Crunches are a classic exercise that focus on tightening your core. Another simple but effective exercise is the plank. The plank is a great strength-training exercise for your abs and helps improve your back muscles.
Good Crunch Form: 1. Lie down on the floor on your back. 2. Bend your knees and comfortably place your feet on the ground. From here you can either place your hands across your chest or along side your ears. Placing your hands behind your neck can cause strain on your neck or even injury. 3. Contract your abs while exhaling as you come up. 4. Hold, and then go back to the start position in a controlled movement. Remember to keep your chin to the celling while performing this exercise to aline your spine for the correct form.
Good Plank Form: 1. Lay face down on the ground with your feet together. 2. Prop yourself up with your forearms and toes. Make sure your body is in a straight line from shoulders to heels, just like the push up formation. 3. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Rest and repeat.
Lower Body – Standing Squats/Lunges: Squats are one of my favorite exercises. Standing squats are great for working out your legs, glutes, quads, calves, and more. If you decide to hold dumbbells or place a barbell across your back, you can transform this lower body workout into a full body workout. Another exercise that can help tone your lower body are lunges. Lunges are great for firming up your buttocks and toning your legs; especially the inner thigh muscles.
Good Squat Form: The key to doing squats correctly is standing straight up and down, with your head up and chest out. 1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder length apart. 2. From this starting position, bend your knees bringing your buttocks back as if you were trying to sit on a chair behind you. Remember to exhale on your way down and inhale on your way up. 3. Now your knees should still be directly above your ankles, your butt down, and your back straight up and down. From this position you move back to the starting position.
Good Lunge Form: 1. Start in a normal standing position, nice and tall with your toes pointing forwards. 2. From here step forward with your left foot, just further than a normal step, letting the heel land on the ground while your right foot stays back at the starting position on your toes. 3. Lower your body to the ground by focusing on your left knee bending and keeping that heel on the ground. Here your left knee should be right above your left ankle, your back straight, and thighs parallel to the ground. 4. Then push off your left foot, returning to the starting position. 5. Perform the same instructions for the opposite foot.
As you practice these moves, they will gradually become easier. Stay tuned for future articles on how to switch up these exercises to stay fit and healthy.
Also, check out Martin Chiu’s Brief Intro to Drum ‘N’ Bass for some music that will get you moving.