Secondary Muscle Groups: Hip Abductors, Hip Adductors
The 1-Leg Bench Squat is a great introduction to the more advanced, 1-Leg Squat. Able to be performed anywhere there is a chair, bench, or bed, this particular exercise is a great way to make your lower-body exercise routine a little more challenging without adding any extra resistance beyond your own body weight. In addition to the benefits of the regular squat, the 1-Leg Bench Squat challenges the stabilizing muscles of the knee and hip, improving tracking of the kneecap and helping to avoid conditions such as osteochodritis and patelofemoral syndrome.
Strengthen the leg and hip in a way you’ve never done before!
Standing in front of a bench, flex one hip to 90-degrees so that you are standing on only one leg. With your foot flat on the floor, hinge the torso forward at the hips and bend the knee and flex the hip, bringing yourself to a seated position on the bench. Inhale as you come down. Exhale as you extend your hip and knee, returning to standing position. Make sure that knee does not come farther forward than the toe and your back stays neutral as you come down to seated position. Repeat this movement for the required number of repetitions, then switch sides and complete the exercise on the other leg.
Recommendation:Start with 8-10 repetitions on each side. Perform 2-3 sets. Discontinue the exercise if it places too much stress on the knee.
Ok, I think the name says it all. Don’t ask me the etymology of the word, but the image you’ve conjured up in your mind probably fits the bill. If you’re not familiar with the Burpee, it is a great total body exercise that does not require any equipment, yet leaves you feeling like you’ve just completed a full gym workout. There are a few variations for all fitness levels, which you will find in the video below. Give this one a try, if you dare…
Secondary Muscles: Glutes, Lower Back, Hip Flexors
How many of you have that big, blue dust-collecting prop in the corner of your room? You’ve nearly broken your neck tripping over it and you’re constantly kicking it out of the way, only to have it rebound off the corner of your bed and take out your legs in retaliation. Well, dust it off and give this one a try. Here is a great exercise for the hamstring muscles. Deceptively difficult and extremely effective. I love this one for the guys because it looks so easy, yet it gets them crying in only a couple of repetitions. The hamstrings are an underutilized muscle. For those that have sedentary occupations, the hamstring muscles spend a great deal of time being sat upon. Being in a shortened position for long periods of time leave these muscles weak and tight. Give the hamstrings a jolt with the Stability Ball Hamstring Curl. Here’s how it goes:
Lie on your back with your feet propped up on a stability ball, feet together just over the apex of the ball. Hands should be at your sides, palms down for support. From this position, pushing through the backs of the legs, lift the hips off of the ground until you’ve achieved a straight-line position with the body, with heels, knees, hips, and shoulders in line. This is the starting position for the exercise. From here, exhale as you pull the ball towards your glutes by lifting your hips and driving the heels back. Make sure to pick the hips up as your heels come towards the glutes, maximizing the work in the hamstring muscles and minimizing the work in the hip flexors. Once you have pulled the legs in as far as you can, inhale as you slowly bring the legs back out to starting position, dropping the hips back down as the legs extend. You should feel a significant amount of work in the backs of the legs. Start with as many repetitions as you feel comfortable. Work your way up from there. As always, if you have any questions feel fee to leave a question in the comments section. Enjoy!
Primary Muscles: Abdominals, Hip Flexors, Cardiovascular System
Secondary Muscles: Shoulders
The Mountain Climber is a great, multipurpose exercise. In addition to stressing the abdominal muscles, it is an effective exercise for getting the heart rate elevated. The abdominal muscles engage to drive the knees towards the chest, with the hip flexors assisting in the movement as well. The shoulders act to stabilize the upper body during the active movement of the lower body. Due to the vigorous nature of the exercise, the heart rate is also elevated, making it a great for anaerobic conditioning exercise as well. Kick-start that body fat loss with this one! Here’s how it goes:
Starting in a prone position on hands and feet with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, right foot back with leg extended and left knee drawn up to the chest, switch feet in the air, driving the right knee forward and driving the left foot back until you have completely switched foot positions. Repeat this movement at an elevated pace, engaging the abdominal muscles as you drive each knee towards the chest. Keep a regular breathing pattern as you perform the movement. Perform the exercise for time or repetition number. Start with 30 seconds without stopping or 50 total repetitions and work up from there. Make sure that there is no discomfort in the shoulders or lower back.
This is how you create a strong, stable core and burn body fat at the same time. Enjoy!
OK. So you think you have mastered the regular plank. Well, here’s a new challenge. The Side Plank is another great body-weight core stabilization exercise to add to your routine. No equipment needed and it can be performed anywhere. Like the regular Plank that I featured before, this exercises utilizes just gravity to provide resistance. As opposed to the deep transverse abdominis and outer rectus abdominis muscles stressed in the regular plank, this particular version targets the obliques (the muscles on the side of the abdomen responsible for side bending and torso rotation), muscles essential to a healthy and stable core. But due to the total body nature of the exercise, it also enhances muscle strength around the shoulders and hips. Here’s how it goes:
Lie on your side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and your legs fully extended and stacked on top of one another. Draw in your abdomen and lift your torso and hips off of the floor, keeping the back in a straight position. The only two points that should be in contact with the ground are the bottom elbow and bottom foot. Keep the neck in line with the rest of the body. Hold the position for as long as you can, and keep your breathing regular as you hold. Switch sides and repeat the exercise. If this version is too difficult, you can switch to the bent-knee version. The only difference is that instead of extending the legs, bend the knees at a 90-degree angle. This means that when you lift the torso, the only points of contact are the bottom elbow and the bottom knee.
I hope this exercise adds a little variety to your routine! Enjoy!