Sometimes, exercising can lead to a rut. You may be devoted to that spin class or your 30-minutes on the treadmill but there are many benefits to be found from not only mixing things up but by adding some functional exercises to your routine.
Functional exercises can help you bust through a plateau but they will also help you strengthen the muscles you use each and every day. The greatest part of all is that you can do these exercises without equipment in the comfort of your own home! Who's ready?
Here are 7 exercises that we should ALL be doing:
1. Inchworm Push-Ups
Minna Herskowitz, a certified personal trainer in Sherman Oaks, CA. says, "you'll find this makes carrying heavy items and everyday activities like pushing a heavy grocery cart or pulling a heavy table away from the wall much easier."
Stand with your arms extended toward the ceiling, over your head. Slowly fold forward and bend your knees until your palms are flat on the floor. Now walk your hands out to a push-up position. Do one push-up (start with a knee push up if necessary), then walk your hands back to your feet, and return to the starting position. Do the move for 30 seconds; build up to 60 seconds.
2. Dead Bug
Lie on the floor on your back with and lift your knees so they're at a 90-degree angle, with shins parallel to the floor. Reach your arms up towards the ceiling keeping your back and head flat on the ground. Press your lower back into the floor as you exhale sharply, feeling your abs engage. Henry Halse, a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist in Philadelphia, tells his clients to image there is a grape beneath their lower back that the are trying to smash. Keep squeezing your abs as you reach your right hand behind your head and straighten your left leg, all while keeping your lower back flat on the ground. Repeat on the other side. Do 3 sets of 8 reps on each side.
Who doesn't love burpees? Start in a standing position, feet hip-width apart. Squat down and put your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your legs straight back behind you so you're in a push-up position, then hop your legs back up between your hands (or as close as possible) and stand up. That's one rep. See how many you can do in a minute.
4. Glute Bridge
Lie down on your back with your knees bent, both feet on the ground comfortably close to your butt. Bring your weight into your heels and, squeezing your glutes, drive your hips up toward the ceiling and hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Then lower your hips back down to the starting position. Do a total of 10 to 15 reps.
"This movement is the opposite of what you're doing while sitting at your desk all day, and it 'wakes up' your glutes to prevent low back pain," says Kate Vidulich, a personal trainer in San Francisco.
[bctt tweet="7 Effective Exercises You Aren't Doing - But Should Be!"]
"You'll strengthen the muscles essential for carrying groceries or lifting children," says Joshua Duvauchelle, a certified personal trainer in Vancouver. "This move strengthens your lower back, glutes, and legs."
Stand with your knees slightly bent, toes turned out and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Hold a 2- to 3-pound medicine ball (or, if you don’t have one, a bottle of water or jug of milk) arm’s distance in front of you. Turn torso slightly to the left, then hinge at your hips and lower the ball until it's positioned at the outer part of your left foot; bend your left knee slightly and keep your right leg straight. Engage your abs, then lift your torso and straighten your left leg as you bring the ball across your body and up towards your right shoulder as if you were passing it to a person behind you. Keep your eyes on the ball and your arms straight. Return to the starting position with the weight extended in front of you, then repeat on the opposite side of your body. That’s one rep. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
6. Single-Leg Squat
"Performing unilateral exercises like this one help promote muscle symmetry in the body, because the one side has to do all of the work without the other side compensating," says Robin M. Gillespie, a certified personal trainer in Philadelphia. These types of exercises are also great for helping you improve balance.
Stand on your left leg, with your right leg slightly bent, foot off the floor, arms at your sides. Extend your arms in front of you and slowly bend your left leg as you lean forward with your torso, hingeing at the waist and keeping your back straight. To maintain your balance, keep your abs engaged. Slowly raise up to the starting position; do 8 to 12 reps before changing sides. Do 2 to 3 sets.
"Our sedentary lifestyles weaken the back muscles, causing poor posture," says Trish Da Costa, personal trainer and Pilates instructor in San Diego. "This simple exercise strengthens the lumbar muscles and improves posture."
Lie on your stomach with your head slightly lifted, arms at your sides, eyes looking down at the floor. As you inhale, lift your arms and legs up an inch to hover above the floor while keeping your gaze down. As you hold this lifted position, squeeze your glutes and thighs together. As you exhale, pull your elbows in toward the sides of your body while still hovering one inch above the ground. On your next inhale, reach your arms straight out in front of you and then place all limbs back on the floor as you exhale. That's one: Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Have you already incorporated some of these moves? What results have you seen?
For more creative workout ideas, check out the 115 plus hours of real time workout programs available on SweatFlix℠