Being fit is no easy task. It takes determination, motivation, willpower and resilience. One of the hardest parts of living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is taking that first step and getting started. Once you cross that hurdle, you’ve accomplished something that most people don’t have the willpower or determination to do. And once you start, the results come. When you start seeing results, it’s almost impossible to quit.
It doesn’t take much to get started. For beginners, the most important thing is firstly making sure that your diet is in check. Like they say, abs are built in the kitchen…so if you want to get fit you have to start with your diet. Once your diet is in order, the next step is to perfect your workout routine.
If you have been trying to live a healthier lifestyle or want to exercise more but don’t really know where or how to start, these 5 exercises are perfect for any beginner who is looking to make a positive change to their lifestyle in just four short weeks. Keep in mind that these exercises all require perfect form to prevent injury. If you’re confused about any of the exercises or have trouble performing them, consult with a professional before going any further.
1. The Plank: The plank is a core exercise which strengthens your abdominal area, shoulders and back. It is one of the most important exercises you can do because it strengthens your core and helps with posture. It also helps to reduce or prevent back pain and improves your balance.
A strong core will improve your overall performance and also help with the overall daily tasks you perform every day. By working out your core, you strengthen your entire body and also protect your body from undue injury. The plank also helps strengthen and develop your abs.
To perform a plank, get down on the floor into a push-up position. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Make sure that your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders.
Also make sure that your body is in a straight line. Engage your core (try sucking your stomach in towards your spine), and hold it. For beginners, try holding the pose for 30 seconds and gradually work your way up as you progress.
2. The Push-Up: Push-ups are one of the oldest and most important exercises in the book. They work as a full-body exercise and build strength in your forearms, chest, shoulders, back, abs and legs. They also engage your core and increase your strength.
Push-ups are a compound exercise, which means that it targets multiple muscles at the same time. What’s so great about push-ups is that, like planks, you don’t need any fancy exercise equipment to do it. You can do it at home, outside, or anywhere you please.
To do a push-up, place your hands on the ground directly beneath your shoulders. Tighten your core and make sure that your entire body is straight.
Keeping your back flat and straight, lower your body towards the floor. Keep your core nice and tight, exhale, and push yourself back up. Make sure that your entire body remains in a perfectly straight line while completing the movement.
3. The Squat: The Squat is another compound movement which effectively works multiple muscles in your body. It is one of the essential exercises to strengthen your core, your legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes), hips, and your back.
Squats are a staple exercise in increasing your lower body strength. They also stimulate muscle growth, strengthen your joints, and even improve your balance. Squats also engage your core and lower back while improving your posture at the same time.
To perform a squat, stand facing forward with your chest up and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and push your butt back as if you are sitting down in an invisible chair. Keep your head up and allow your back to arch ever so slightly (make sure you don’t let it round).
Lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as parallel as you can go). Make sure you are pressing your weight onto your heels, and then push through your heels to go back up into the starting position. Start by just using your own body weight, and as you improve you can progress into adding more weight to your squat.
4. The Bird Dog: Like the plank, the bird dog works your core as well as your lower back, and helps to improve your overall balance.
The bird dog will also strengthen your back, especially your lumbar spine. It is beneficial in strengthening your core and your stabilizer muscles.
To perform a bird dog, get on the floor on all fours. Keeping your core tight and your spine and neck neutral, look towards the floor. Your knees should be directly beneath your hips and your wrists beneath your shoulders.
Slowly extend your left leg up until it is parallel to the floor. Do not lift your leg above the height of your hip. Once you do this, slowly lift your right arm, keeping it straight and parallel to the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds, and then bring your leg and arm down. Switch to the opposite arm and leg, and repeat.
5. The Glute Bridge: The glute bridge is an exercise which primarily targets your glutes, but it also targets your core as well as your hips and is a key exercise in preventing lower back pain. You don’t have to use any equipment for this exercise so you can do it anywhere you please, even in the comfort of your own living room.
If you have a desk job and don’t move around enough, or if you suffer from frequent lower back pain, this exercise will strengthen your lower back and also improve your hip mobility.
Start by laying down on the floor face up. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. Your arms should be to your sides with the palms facing down. Slowly lift your hips up and away from the ground. You should stop when your knees, hips and shoulders are in a perfectly straight line. Squeeze your glutes hard and tighten your core. Hold the position for a few seconds and go back down.
Remember that a healthy body and great overall physique take months and even years of determination and hard work to achieve. Give yourself a head start by trying these exercises for 4 weeks and see how your strength and your body improve. Once that is done, you are ready to take the next step in your fitness journey.