Strength Workout III

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 two grouped sets, 1 & 2, with 5 exercises per set. 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.

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 - Deadlift - Barbell or Bands

Start standing with dumbbells at your sides. Start by bending at the hips and then bend at the knees to lower the weights toward the floor. Your arms should be straight, while keeping your back flat (natural arch… do not roll forward) . Contracting your glutes, push hips forward to return to the starting position. Repeat.

Alternatively, you can also use resistance bands under your feet for this exercise set in place of dumbbells.

Set 1, Exercise 2 - Pushup Renegade Row

Start in a pushup position, with dumbbells in your hands. With a flat back, lower yourself down in a standard pushup, and then back up again. Lift your left elbow up, to raise the left dumbbell up to your side and then back down again. Lift your right elbow up, to raise the right dumbbell up to your side and then lower it back down again. Repeat the sequence.

Note that this is a challenging exercise, and the difficultly can be reduced by using a wider foot position, light weights, no weights (doing pushups on the fists), and by doing the set on your knees rather than toes.

Make sure you keep your back neutral in this set, without large sway/curve front to back (mostly flat inline with your legs).

Set 1, Exercise 3 - Side Step Up

Stand beside a box with your feet straight, placed hip-width apart. Hold a pair of dumbbells, one in each hand with your arms by your sides. Contract your glutes and step up sideways onto the box with one leg. Push through your heel and stand upright as you bring your opposite foot onto the box. Step off the box with both legs. Note, do not use a box / step height that puts your knee at more than a 90 degree angle when you step up with one leg, as it could create excess stress on your knee. Make sure you push through the heel when stepping up, to reduce pressure on the knee. Repeat for both legs. To add more to the exercise (now shown below), after you have stepped up on the box, raise the leg you didn’t use to step on the box initially in a lateral/side movement as high as comfortable (swinging the leg out with knee straight), and then return the legs together before stepping down.

Set 1, Exercise 4 - Glute Bridge - Standard or Single Leg

Lie face up on a mat with legs out straight, and arms resting at your side. For a standard glute bridge, bring your knees up and feet in, with your feet resting on the floor approximately located where your knees were on the mat (not too close to the butt). Keeping your back flat, raise your hips up until your have a straight line between your stomach, hips and legs (quads). After pausing for a couple of seconds, slowly allow your hips to go back to the mat.

For a single leg glute bridge (more advanced and shown below), raise only one knee up / foot back. Raise one leg straight up toward ceiling, keeping both knees in line. Engage glutes and lift hips up toward ceiling to form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Pause. Lower back down and repeat for a full set. Switch legs.

Another alternative is to utilize weights on a standard glute bridge, as long as form can be maintained. Note that in any of the options, the goal is to get the legs, hips and stomach in line… make sure you are able to do this correctly on the standard bridge, before trying the single or weighted alternatives.

Note that rather than number of reps, generally this is best done as a progression of time (e.g. 30s, 45s, 90s, etc. up to 2 minutes).

Set 1, Exercise 5 - Spiderman Plank

Start in a prone plank position with elbows under your shoulders, flat back and on your toes. Raise your right knee up toward your right elbow, then left knee toward your left elbow. The goal is to remain stable with an engaged core, focusing on the oblique when raising your knees.

Note that rather than number of reps, generally this is best done as a progression of time (e.g. 30s, 45s, 90s, etc. up to 2 minutes).

Set 2, Exercise 1 - Goblet Squat / Air Squat

Hold a weight at your chest using both of your hands and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. When you’re ready to begin, brace your core, then drop your butt back and down to lower into a squat while keeping your chest up. As you squat, sit back into your heels without shifting your weight forward onto the balls of your feet. Try to get as deep into the squat as possible to maximize glute activation. Then, driving through your heels, come back up to standing and give your glutes a squeeze at the top.

To make this exercise easier, perform it without weights, and/or limit range of motion to where your quads are parallel to the floor.

To make this exercise harder, perform it with more weight, or significantly slow the lowering portion (eccentric motion), to increase time under tension.

Set 2, Exercise 2 - Bird Dog

Start out on your hands and knees. with hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Extend your right leg out horizontal, pointing your toe, while extending your left arm forward to a horizontal position as well. The basic variant is to hold this extended position for a period of time (e.g. 15s, etc.) or you can do slow controlled sets of extension and contraction, touching knee and elbow under your torso.

Note that rather than number of reps, generally this is best done as a progression of time (e.g. 30s, 45s, 90s, etc. up to 2 minutes).

Set 2, Exercise 3 - Alternating Side Lunge with Press

Stand with feet hip-width apart, dumbbells racked at shoulders. Lunge left by taking a big step to the left and sending hips back and bending left knee. Press back to the starting position, then press the weights overhead. Repeat lunging to the right. Continue to alternate.

Reduce the difficulty be using light or no weights.

Set 2, Exercise 4 - Burpees

Start standing with your arms at your sides. Squat down, placing hands on floor, shoulder-width apart. Note that this is a squat position… do not just bend at the waist. Jump legs back into high plank position and then pull them back up to the deep squat position. Extend legs and jump, raising arms overhead. Repeat.

If you are not experienced with this exercise, do it slowly and methodically the first few workouts to ensure form is correct, gradually building some speed over time.

Set 2, Exercise 5 - Clamshells (Progression)

Lie on your side, with legs stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Rest your head on your lower arm, and use your top arm to steady your frame. Be sure that your hipbones are stacked on top of one another, as there is a tendency for the top hip to rock backward. Engage your abdominals by pulling your belly button in, as this will help to stabilize your spine and pelvis. Keeping your feet touching, raise your upper knee as high as you can without shifting your hips or pelvis. Don’t move your lower leg off the floor. Pause, and then return your upper leg to the starting position on the ground.

Additional challenge (progression) can be keeping the upper foot slightly raised, adding a leg extension, and adding bands at the knees (see video below).

Note that rather than number of reps, generally this is best done as a progression of time (e.g. 30s, 45s, 90s, etc. up to 2 minutes per side).