Here’s a set of five powerful compound moves and classic bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere for that fitness boost you need as you spring out of your winter plateau!
With squats, your butt, hips, thighs, calves and core all benefit. Bending at multiple joints (knee, hip and ankle) means more muscle is activated by this compound move.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. Option: hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your arms extended down.
- Bend your knees, allowing your hips to sit back behind your thighs. Keep your back straight and your knees pointing forward. Ideally, you will move your thighs parallel to the floor, though this is not always possible for beginners.
- Lower to a comfortable point, keeping your feet flat on the floor with your weight equally distributed between them. Be careful not to lean back, tuck your hips underneath you, or let your knees move forward past your toes.
- Rise back up to straight legs, pause a moment, then repeat for a total of 8 – 12 times.
Lunges, like squats, works more than one joint at a time as a compound move. Bonus: when you up your tempo side to side, you increase the energy of your workout as well.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes facing forward. Tighten up your abs and lengthen your spine. Place your hands on your hips, or hold dumbbells in your hands up near your shoulders.
- Step out to the right about 24 inches, then bend your right knee, keeping your back straight and your foot and knee aligned.
- Lower your body weight onto the right leg to a comfortable point, keeping both feet flat on the floor. Avoid leaning the torso over or tilting—the body and spine stay upright. Pause for a moment.
- Push off the right leg firmly to bring your body weight and left leg back to the starting stance. Repeat the exercise with the left leg, alternating sides to complete 8 – 12 repetitions with each leg.
It’s hard to miss the effects when doing core moves like this classic plank—you’ll feel the demands on your abs, and find they are great for your back and shoulders, too.
- Turn face down on the floor and extend your legs behind you with your toes tucked under. Prop yourself up onto your forearms, lifting your hips and back flat.
- Aim to form a straight line between your head and heels as you pull up on your abs and keep your body intact. Keep your neck elongated as you gaze down between your forearms.
- Do not allow your hips to lower toward the floor as you hold this position.
- Breathe deeply in and out, holding the plank for 15 – 60 seconds.
The muscles that support side bends and twisting motions of the spine are called your internal and external oblique muscles, and they’re activated when you perform this side plank.
- Face sideways on your mat and prop yourself up on your right elbow. Stack your legs on top of each other and push your heels out to flex your feet.
- Lift your hips and pelvis to form a straight line down from your head to your heels. Keep your neck straight and long, and gaze down and out if front of your arm on the mat. Use your free hand to help support you if needed, or place it on your left hip.
- Pull in on your abs and don’t allow your low back to arch or your shoulders to droop as you hold the position.
- Breathe deeply in and out, holding the plank for 15 – 60 seconds, trying not to sink your body weight into your hip or elbow. Lower yourself carefully to the mat and turn to repeat on the other side.
This crossover crunch move (sometimes called the bicycle maneuver) is one of the most effective bodyweight exercises for all areas of your abdominals.
- Lie on your back with your hands gently clasped behind the base of your scalp, and your elbows open out to the side. Bend your right knee in toward your chest and extend your left leg out away from you, angled upward.
- Curve your chin, left shoulder blade and ribs up off the floor as you twist through your torso over toward your right knee. Look outside your right knee and hip, exhaling
- Turn toward the left side, switching all the movements as you inhale—lift up the right shoulder, and pull in the left knee as you straighten the right leg. Look outside your left knee and hip, exhaling.
- Repeat the controlled pedaling motion while twisting and crunching, counting one rotation to both right and left as one complete repetition, for up to 20 repetitions.