If you have been trying to live a healthier lifestyle or want to exercise more but don’t really know where or how to start, these 5 exercises are perfect for any beginner who is looking to make a positive change to their lifestyle in just four short weeks.
1. The Plank: The plank is a core exercise which strengthens your abdominal area, shoulders and back. It is one of the most important exercises you can do because it strengthens your core and helps with posture. It also helps to reduce or prevent back pain and improves your balance.
To perform a plank, get down on the floor into a push-up position. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Make sure that your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders.
Also make sure that your body is in a straight line. Engage your core (try sucking your stomach in towards your spine), and hold it. For beginners, try holding the pose for 30 seconds and gradually work your way up as you progress.
2. The Push-Up: Push-ups are one of the oldest and most important exercises in the book. They work as a full-body exercise and build strength in your forearms, chest, shoulders, back, abs and legs. They also engage your core and increase your strength.
To do a push-up, place your hands on the ground directly beneath your shoulders. Tighten your core and make sure that your entire body is straight.
Keeping your back flat and straight, lower your body towards the floor. Keep your core nice and tight, exhale, and push yourself back up. Make sure that your entire body remains in a perfectly straight line while completing the movement.
3. The Squat: The Squat is another compound movement which effectively works multiple muscles in your body. It is one of the essential exercises to strengthen your core, your legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes), hips, and your back.
To perform a squat, stand facing forward with your chest up and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and push your butt back as if you are sitting down in an invisible chair. Keep your head up and allow your back to arch ever so slightly (make sure you don’t let it round).
Lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as parallel as you can go). Make sure you are pressing your weight onto your heels, and then push through your heels to go back up into the starting position. Start by just using your own body weight, and as you improve you can progress into adding more weight to your squat.
4. The Bird Dog: Like the plank, the bird dog works your core as well as your lower back, and helps to improve your overall balance.
To perform a bird dog, get on the floor on all fours. Keeping your core tight and your spine and neck neutral, look towards the floor. Your knees should be directly beneath your hips and your wrists beneath your shoulders.
Slowly extend your left leg up until it is parallel to the floor. Do not lift your leg above the height of your hip. Once you do this, slowly lift your right arm, keeping it straight and parallel to the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds, and then bring your leg and arm down. Switch to the opposite arm and leg, and repeat.
5. The Glute Bridge: The glute bridge is an exercise which primarily targets your glutes, but it also targets your core as well as your hips and is a key exercise in preventing lower back pain. You don’t have to use any equipment for this exercise so you can do it anywhere you please, even in the comfort of your own living room.
Start by laying down on the floor face up. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. Your arms should be to your sides with the palms facing down. Slowly lift your hips up and away from the ground. You should stop when your knees, hips and shoulders are in a perfectly straight line. Squeeze your glutes hard and tighten your core. Hold the position for a few seconds and go back down.
Remember that a healthy body and great overall physique take months and even years of determination and hard work to achieve. Give yourself a head start by trying these exercises for 4 weeks and see how your strength and your body improve.
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