Strength Workout I
The following are the suggested individual strength exercises for this workout. If there are exercises that are problematic for you, please skip and/or substitute as appropriate.
For this workout, there are three grouped sets, 1, 2, and 3 with set 1 having 4 exercise, set 2 having 3, and set 3 having only one exercise. Do each exercise within set 1 sequentially with short rests (stretching), and repeat (2-4 times). After getting through all of set 1, move to the set 2 exercises and complete them sequentially in a similar manner, again 2-4 times. The final set (3) is only performed one time.
To keep things fresh and continually challenge your muscles, mix up your sets and reps from session to session.
Session 1: Lift heavy (3 to 4 sets of 3 to 6 reps with 3 to 5 minutes of rest between sets)
Session 2: Lift light (2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets)
Session 3: Lift moderate (2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps, 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets).
Body weight exercise can be done at higher reps, since you will have less weight.
Make sure you are utilizing good form for all exercises. If fatigue is negatively impacting form, reduce weight/resistance or increase the rest between sets. Do not continue to do the work with poor form.
If you are new to strength training or any of these particular sets, start these unweighted or with light weights, to avoid excessive muscle soreness. It is better to ease into new programs than risk unnecessary pain or potential injuries.
Set 1, Exercise 1 - Pushup
Start in a high plank position. Place hands firmly on the ground, directly under shoulders. Ground toes into the floor to stabilize your lower half. Brace core (tighten abs as if preparing to take a punch), engage glutes and hamstrings, and flatten your back so your entire body is neutral and straight. Begin to lower your body—keeping back flat and eyes focused about three feet in front of you to maintain a neutral neck—until chest grazes floor. Don’t let your butt dip or stick out at any point during the move; your body should remain in a straight line from head to toe. Draw shoulder blades back and down, keeping elbows around 45 degrees or less from your body… not 90 degrees. Keeping core engaged, exhale as you push back to starting position. Make sure you go all the way down to ensure a full range of motion.
Alternative, you can do the pushups on your knees or on an incline to reduce the effort if needed.
Set 1, Exercise 2 - Seated Row
Sit down on the floor with your chest up, back flat, and legs extended in front of you. Wrap the resistance band around the bottom of your feet (or a stationary object) and hold the other end of the resistance band with your hands, using a neutral, palms facing in grip, with your arms extended in front of you. Keeping your torso stationary, initiate the movement by engaging your lat muscles, bending your elbows, and pulling the handles towards your chest, and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Ensure you keep your elbows tucked into your sides with no leaning back as you row. Pause to feel the squeeze, then under control, reverse the movement and repeat.
Set 1, Exercise 3 - Air Squat
Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward. Straighten your arms out in front of your, then engage your core muscles and push out your chest slightly by pulling your shoulder blades towards each other. Bend your knees and squat down as if you were sitting into a chair, until your upper legs are around parallel to the floor. Keep your weight on your heels and keep your core tight. Make an effort to keep your knees slightly externally rotated (don’t let them collapse inward). Focus on keeping your torso upright and core tight. Straighten your legs and squeeze your butt to come back up. Repeat.
Set 1, Exercise 4 - Standing Dumbbell Press
Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, take a dumbbell in each hand. Raise the dumbbells to head height, the elbows out and about 90 degrees. This will be your starting position. Maintaining strict technique with no leg drive or leaning back, extend through the elbow to raise the weights together directly above your head. Pause, and slowly return the weight to the starting position.
To make this exercise easier, you can also perform it in a seated position. It can also be performed with resistance bands as well.
Set 2, Exercise 1 - Reverse Lunge
Stand upright, with your hands at your hips. Take a large step backward with your left foot. Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor with your right knee positioned directly over your ankle. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor with your left heel lifted. Return to standing by pressing your right heel into the floor and bringing your left leg forward to complete one rep. Alternate legs, and step back with right leg.
Make sure your knee does not have any side to side movement (e.g. collapsing inward) during the movement. For added challenge, these can be performed with weights.
Set 2, Exercise 2 - Standing Bicep Curl
Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand at arm's length. Keep your elbows close to your torso and rotate the palms of your hands until they are facing forward. This will be your starting position. Now, keeping the upper arms stationary, exhale and curl the weights while contracting your biceps. Continue to raise the weights until your biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Hold the contracted position for a brief pause as you squeeze your biceps. Then, inhale and slowly begin to lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
It’s important to keep you elbows steady… do not push them forward or let them slide backwards, as this removes the emphasis from the biceps to the shoulders.
Set 2, Exercise 3 - Tricep Dumbbell Extension
In a seated position, grab the dumbbell held with both hands. Slowly use both hands to grab the dumbbell and lift it over your head until both arms are fully extended. The resistance should be resting in the palms of your hands with your thumbs around it. The palm of the hands should be facing up towards the ceiling. This will be your starting position. Keeping your upper arms close to your head with elbows in, lower the resistance in a semicircular motion behind your head until your forearms come close to your biceps. The upper arms should remain stationary and only the forearms should move. Breathe in as you perform this step. Go back to the starting position by using the triceps to raise the dumbbell. Breathe out as you perform this step. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Set 3, Exercise 1 - 3 Minute Plank Workout (Only need to do this set once at the end).
This set is composed of timed variations of the plank workout, as shown in the video below. Work up to the three minutes, starting with 15 seconds for each segment, building up to 30s (or more) as your core strength improves.
Segments: Standard plank, plank with leg alternating leg raises, side plank (left), side plank (right), standard plank (again), finishing with spiderman planks.
Basic regular plank instructions: Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Lower your forearms to the floor with elbows positioned under your shoulders and your hands shoulder-width apart. If someone looked at you from the side, your arms would form a 90-degree angle. Step your feet back, one at a time. Maintain a straight line from heels through the top of your head, looking down at the floor, with gaze slightly in front of your face. Now, tighten your abs and hold.
With all of these variations, you want to maintain a straight line through your back and hips, without a sway or pike-like position.