In all honesty, I’m not a fan of generic exercise programs (hence all of my words of caution you will read). However, these are weird, uncertain times that can provoke a lot of anxiety and depression. Two things that help me when I’m feeling anxious are 1) stay engaged and 2) move my body. You can also think of staying engaged as staying present, since anxiety is typically brought about by future-tripping or anticipatory thoughts, while depression is usually steeped in past thoughts. And movement? Well, that’s how we help cortisol, a stress hormone, leave our body. Have you ever seen a gazelle, or any animal that’s prey, shake once it is safe from being chased by a lion? It’s releasing the cortisol and adrenaline it needed to fight or flight the situation. So, let’s all take a collective deep breath and be okay with the fact that we might not feel okay. And if you are looking for a home workout that will help you stay engaged for 30 minutes, then I’d like to help you. Shall we?
First off, it’s extremely important to work with your doctor to make sure you are cleared for exercise and do not have any orthopedic issues, and a certified trainer (like yours truly) who can properly assess and design an individualized exercise program for you that effectively reaches your goals while keeping your safety and needs top priority. With that being said, I don’t want to leave you hangin’ either. So, here is a simple program that you can do at home three days per week for 30 minutes with zero equipment. Hooray!
Before beginning any exercise program, always check with your doctor and stop exercise immediately if you experience any pain, dizziness, etc. There are four things you need to execute with each exercise to ensure proper technique: 1) activate abdominals (think of drawing your belly button towards your spine), 2) lift your chest, 3) breathe, and 4) drink water. Let’s rock this!
5-Minute Warm-up: foam roll and perform any corrective stretches and exercises followed by 10 hip bridges lying on the floor, and 10 slow and controlled push-ups on the wall.
20-Minute Resistance Training: perform three sets of 15-20 reps of the following exercises to fatigue with good form. Execute each exercise in a row, rest 30 seconds, and repeat additional sets until you’ve performed each exercise three times. Then, end with the 3-Minute Metabolic Training and Cool-down.
Squat. Stand with feet hip width apart. Sit back like you are going to sit in a chair, keeping knees behind and in line with second toe (Figure 1). Squeeze the butt and push through the heels as though you are pushing the ground away from you to return to start. (Note: my arms are in a prisoner’s squat position. This is not the best position for those with shoulder issues, tight pecs, etc. Please keep hands on hips or folded at your chest. I simply posed like this because it was the best view to demonstrate proper technique in the photograph without blocking my lower body.)
Prone Cobra. Lie on your stomach with arms by your side. Squeeze your butt and shoulder blades together and lift your torso off the ground, rotating palms away from your body so thumbs point to the ceiling (Figure 2). Hold this pose (yes, that butt and shoulder blades of yours stay squeezed!) for 1-3 minutes rather than doing 15 reps.
Lateral Lunge. Stand tall with feet together. Step out to the side and sit back into your right heel, keeping the right knee behind and in line with the right second toe. Left foot stays flat on the ground (Figure 3). Squeeze the butt and push through the heel of the right foot to return to start. Perform all reps then repeat on the left leg.
Push Up. Start in a neutral spine position with your wrists under your shoulders (Figure 4). Squeeze your shoulder blades to pull yourself towards the ground, elbows pointing back at a 45 degree angle. Once your arms are level with your torso, push up to start (Figure 5).
Plank. Start in a neutral spine position with your elbows under your shoulders and your weight back in your heels (Figure 6). Hold this for 30-60 seconds rather than performing 15 reps.
3-Minute Metabolic Training: choose an exercise that gets your heart pumping, but doesn’t cause any pain such as jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. Perform that exercise as fast as you can with good form for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds and repeat two more times.
2-Minute Cool-down: walk around until your heart rate slows and returns to normal. Foam roll and stretch as needed.
***This program is designed for healthy individuals with no medical concerns. Always speak with your doctor before performing any exercise program. If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised in a while (but your doctor has given you the A-OK), start with one set and build your endurance and strength from there. Optimal results can only be obtained with a customized exercise and nutrition program.
I’d like to hear from you, how are you doing? If you tend to be anxious or depressed, what has helped you? All of us can benefit by expanding our stress-coping tool box during uncertain times.
Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers. If you need to reach out, I’m here to listen. As always, if you felt this post was helpful, please like it and share it with your friends and family.
With love, Steph