Fitness is preparedness, which is about the most basic things in life. As a fitness trainer, my mission is to simplify life in order to reveal its essential parts, so that we can clearly identify and improve the things on which everything else is built. Preparedness, which is fitness, is about fundamentals.
The fundamental, yet complex, athletic skill that you need to improve with your workouts is locomotion — your ability to get from Point A to Point B. Essential or not?
Just for AGEIST, I’m giving you a 2-workout exercise program that has two levels: Level 1 and Level 2. Each workout has 3 exercises, and each exercise serves to improve some specific function that allows you to move better.
Here’s an overview:
For each exercise, use a 45:15 work-to-rest ratio. That means you’ll do each move for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds while getting ready for the next exercise. You’ll do all three exercises back-to-back. Depending on your fitness level, you can start by doing just one round of the Level 1 exercises. With a little practice, it’ll quickly get easier. Once you can do 3 rounds with good form, move on to the Level 2 exercises. Here again, you can start with just one round and work your way up to three rounds. It’s just 9 minutes!
Warm Up: March in place for 1 minute
Level 1: Dead Bugs, Glute Hip-Ups, Stork Stance
Level 2: Y Cuffs, Back Lunge, Hip Twists
Cool Down: March in place for 1 minute
Below are the exercise descriptions. Take your time and play around with these. Enjoy!
- Dead Bugs with knees bent
Main function: stabilize front-to-back pelvic tilting. You need that for your lower back.
Lie on your back with your arms and legs raised as shown. Tighten your abs and press your lower back into the ground. Make sure there is no space. Hold that position as you straighten your left arm and left leg. Make yourself as long and straight as possible in the bottom position while keeping your lower back in contact with the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Variation: keep your legs straight
Tip: a training partner should not be able to slide his/her hand under your lower back at any time during this movement. Keep your lower back pushed into the ground!
- Glute Hip-Ups with knees bent
Main function: hip extension and flexion. You need this for walking.
Lie on your back. Position your left foot close to your hips, and pull your right knee to your chest. Drive the left leg into the ground and raise your hips while keeping the right knee pulled in towards your chest. Lower your hips and switch legs. This move has simultaneous hip flexion and extension, which is exactly what you need for running, walking, and getting up and down off the ground.
Variation: straighten the top leg to get a hamstring stretch while doing this exercise.
Tip: actively pull the elevated knee into your chest as you extend through the other leg. This helps with hip mobility while also protecting your lower back.
- Stork Stance with arms at T
Main function: control of weight shifting with improved hip flexion and extension. The way humans typically generate force is through a weight shift that includes hip extension and hip flexions. Examples: throwing, walking, and transitions between lying and standing positions.
Stand up tall and straight with your arms at the T position as shown. Position your feet hip width apart and parallel to one another. Shift your weight onto your right leg and raise your left knee as high as you can while maintaining a tall, upright posture. Lower your leg and repeat on the other side.
Variation: place your hands on your hips to make this exercise a bit easier.
Tip: to get the most out of this exercise, fully extend through the supporting leg to make yourself as tall as possible.
- Y Cuffs with rotation
Fitness has taught me that everything is connected. To improve your head positioning, and thereby your spinal alignment, we’re going to work on your shoulder mobility. This is deep stuff!
Lie on your stomach with your arms fully extended past your head to the Y position. Pull your hands thru your armpits until your arms are straight with your finger tips pointing towards your feet. Rotate your shoulder fully until your thumbs are pointing up again (external shoulder rotation). Now reverse the movement and return the starting position to complete the repetition.
Variation: once your hands are pointing towards your feet, place your hands on your lower back and lift your elbows to stretch your chest and strengthen your upper back.
Tip: when reaching past your head, fully extend your arms.
- Back Lunges with hands behind head
Giant steps are great because they improve control of weight shifting (balance), while strengthening and lengthening your hips and body. It’s what you need.
Start in a tall, standing position with your hands behind your head. Get into good posture with your elbows back. Tighten your midsection, and take a big step backwards, while maintaining an upright torso. Allow your hips to sink back and down until the trailing knee almost touches the ground. Then return to the starting position and switch sides.
Variation: You can hold your arms to the front (zombie style) to make this exercise easier.
Tip: make your abs rock hard in the bottom position to keep your back from arching. This does a lot to improve posture and hip mobility.
- Hip Twists on forearms
Efficiently generating force for walking, throwing, etc. requires rotation around the spine. This movement stabilizes your core while improving spinal rotation.
Get into a planking position on your forearms. Keep your elbows and hands shoulder width apart, and make yourself long and straight from head to heels. Now roll your heels all the way to the left and all the way to the right, while keeping your hips centered.
Variation: you can do this exercise on your hands with your arms fully extended in the starting position of a push up.
Tip: really control this movement by going a little slower than usual and focus on keeping your hips centered.
The essentials will set you free. – Mark