HOME EXERCISE PROGRAM
This is a program of easy-to-do at-home exercises that can be done first thing in the morning before your shower. It should take you no more than 15 – 20 minutes and can be done while you are watching the news, accomplishing two tasks at one time! The goal is to do each exercise at least 25 times each for three sets, no resting between sets. If you cannot do 25, then do as many as you can and work your way to 25 over a few weeks. Go slowly and deliberately, avoiding momentum that will rob you of the full workout. Don't forget to breathe, keep good posture, and relax the parts of your body you are not working. There are three areas to work each day: upper body, lower body and abdomen. Some of the exercises overlap areas, which is a bonus! Take a moment to warm up and stretch a bit before you get started.
UPPER BODY: Dumbbell Curl Press
Stand up with your pelvis tilted under you and knees slightly bent. Hold 2 – 3 pound dumbbells in each hand, palms facing you and hanging down in front of each thigh. Bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells up together while turning your wrists toward you so your palms are facing you again at shoulder height. Keep your elbows tucked close to your body the whole time. Then, raise the dumbbells above your head until elbows are straight, twisting the wrists so palms face outward. Reverse the process going back down. Go slowly.
LOWER BODY: Squats
Stand up with your pelvis tilted under you and knees slightly bent. Squat down with arms extended in front of you for balance, knees over your ankles and buttocks sticking out behind you. Make sure your knees don't overshoot your toes when you squat. Your lower leg should remain perpendicular to the floor. Return to standing in a pelvic tilt. You can add 2 – 3 pound dumbbells in your hands to increase resistance. You can also do this exercise with your back leaning against the wall, with or without an exercise ball between your back and the wall.
ABDOMINALS: Leg Raises
Lie on your back with legs straight out and hands tucked under your buttocks to support your low back. Lift your legs straight up in the air while pushing your low back into the floor. Use those abdominal muscles to keep your back pressed to the floor as you lower your legs down (this is the harder part of the exercise). Without touching the floor with your feet, repeat the exercise.
UPPER BODY: Upright Rows
Stand up with your pelvis tilted under you and knees slightly bent. Hold 2 – 3 pound dumbbells in each hand, palms facing you and hanging down in front of each thigh. Bend your elbows out to the side, keeping palms facing you and near your body, until palms are at chest level. Return to the starting position slowly and with control.
Stand up with your pelvis tilted under you and knees slightly bent. Hold a 2 – 3 pound dumbbell in both hands above and slightly behind your head, palms up. Keep your elbows by your ears. Raise the dumbbell slowly behind your head and all the way up, and then slowly return to the starting position.
LOWER BODY: Side Leg Lifts
Lay on one side, head resting on an outstretched arm and not propped up on your hand. Bend the lower leg and upper arm in front of you for balance. Raise the upper leg away from the floor approximately 45 degrees. Be careful not to roll backwards and turn this exercise into a hip flexion. Return to the starting position without touching the floor. Repeat this exercise on the other side. Since you have to do each leg separately, this exercise will take a little bit longer than squats.
ABDOMINALS: Bird Dog
Get into position on all fours. Keep your back straight, hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Rest on your knuckles, not palms (unlike the photo), in order to keep your wrist from bending. Squeeze your abdominal muscles as you extend one arm out in front of you and the opposite leg out behind you. Keep your back from sagging. Keep your head and neck neutral, facing the floor. Hold this position for 2 – 3 seconds. Slowly return to starting position. Do this with the opposite arm and leg. Repeat cycle.
LOWER BODY: Step Ups
Stand in front of a bottom stair in your home or infront of an aerobic stepping bench. Hold onto a railing for balance if you need to. You can do this with or without dumbells in your hands. Slowly step up onto the step to a straight leg. Balance there for a second. Then, slowly and purposefully step back to the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat the cycle. To increase the intensity, you can lift the unweighted knee when you get to the top of the step.
UPPER BODY: Knuckle Push Ups
Get into position so that you are facing the floor, arms stretched out in front of you with hands in a fist, knuckles on the floor facing each other and elbows facing back. (Do not do this with palms flat on the floor as you will injure your wrists over time.) Your arms should be right beneath your shoulders. Toes are touching the floor. Body is straight and not curved up or sunken. Lower your chin to the floor. Keep those elbows back tucked beside your body. This really isolates the triceps muscles. Go as low as you can without touching the floor. Return slowly to the starting position. Push ups are hard. If you can do 5 this way, that's excellent! Add one more push-up per set each week. For an easier push up, modify this exercise by making your knees the anchor on the floor and not your feet. Or, for even easier push-ups, do them upright against the wall - though you should definitely be able to do 25 in this position!
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor and low back pushed against the floor. Put your hands lightly behind your head. Do not interlock your fingers or push on your head. Keep the neck straight and lift your chest towards the sky until you make approximately a 45 degree angle off the floor. Keep pressing your low back into the floor. Return to lie flat again.