what you focus on you create more of
Here is the basic crunch. Lay down and pull your belly button to your spine so that your lower back is flat on the floor. Knees are bent, feet hip width apart and close to your butt. Hands are behind the head, or fingertips at temples. Keep your chin off your chest and your elbows back. Use your core to lift your chest, keeping your neck neutral. Look between your knees and exhale on the exertion.
The standing crunch is a good one for people who don't want to lay down or are scared of pulling on their neck. Stand with feet hip-width apart and fingertips at temples. Neck is neutral. Each time you bring your knee up, pull your belly in to contract your abdominals.
This gif is actually a row with a kickback. The tricep is activated when the arm is extended behind. I will make another video of only the kickback, but this one will suffice for now. You will get the benefit of working the latissimus dorsi (lats) if you follow this whole movement.
Tip from the hip, core engaged, knees slightly bent. Support yourself high up on leg (never push on the knee!) or you can hold on to a bench or something similar. Beginning at hip, extend arm behind, keeping elbow soft. Squeeze at the top of the movement, and bring weight back to hip. Avoid rocking weight back and forth, using momentum. Control the movement-- this means probably using a lighter weight than you think you need.
Heels under hips, knees slightly bent. Engage your core to protect your lower back. Elbows in, biceps by ears. Lower the weight to the base of the neck and straighten the arm back up toward the ceiling, again keeping elbows soft. As you get tired, your elbows will flare. Take breaks when you need them, and keep the weight light at first.
There are various ways to do a tricep dip, and I will add to this as we go.
To set up, come down to the floor, bend your knees and bring your feet close to your butt. Hands are under shoulders, with fingers pointing towards your heels. Squeeze shoulder blades gently to lift chest. Bend elbows and then straighten (not all the way!) to lift hips.
It is difficult for some people to feel this in their triceps. If you can't feel it, it probably means that you are simply lifting and lowering your hips instead of using your triceps to do so. It may help to do the modified version on the left-- bend and straighten the arms, keeping elbows moving straight back, not flaring out. Be really careful with this one-- if you have any shoulder injury or pain, you want to skip the dips.
Neck neutral. Shoulders away from ears. Little pinch in the shoulder blades to keep chest up. Elbows close to side. Knees slightly bent, never locked out. Heels under hips. Core engaged. Squeeze as you lift and rotate the weight, and take your time on the way down as you rotate again. There is as much work to do on the way down as on the way up. Remember to breathe on the exertion. (Don't hold your breath.)
Neck neutral. Shoulders away from ears. Little pinch in the shoulder blades to keep chest up. Elbows close to side. Knees slightly bent, never locked out. Heels under hips, core engaged,. This time (hammer time!), you will keep the weights vertical, with knuckles always facing in towards your body. Squeeze as you lift the weight, and take your time on the way down. There is as much work to do on the way down as on the way up. Remember to breathe on the exertion. (Don't hold your breath.)
This one is going to feel a bit more challenging! Sit with knees outside of hips. Core engaged. Chest up, elbow resting on thigh. Begin with arm extended towards the floor and squeeze bicep on the way up. Resist on the way down. Take your time!
Feet just outside hips. Butt back, chest up. Knees behind toes. Squeeze glutes on the way up. Look down once in a while to see if you can see your shoelaces. If you can't, push hips back to bring your knees behind your toes. Keep knees soft-- do not lock them out.
Feet wide. Butt back, knees behind toes. Knees tracking in line with toes. If you can't see your shoelaces, push hips back further. Really press your feet into the floor, activating your whole leg. Squeeze glutes on the way up. Keep knees soft-- do not lock them out.
We all know we need to exercise to stay fit and healthy. Exercise helps us fight disease, it boosts our immunity, energizes us, and it makes us happy. It gives us confidence, helps us keep our weight in check, and helps us to age gracefully.
But there is a point of diminishing returns at which we don't get the benefits of the exercise. This can happen in a variety of situations. It may happen if you are forcing yourself to engage in a physical activity even though you don't enjoy it. It may happen if you are overriding your body's need for a rest or a different type of exercise. These situations can cause more harm than good. They cause mental and physical stress, which usually results in injury or non-compliance.
To figure out if our exercise routines are healthy for us, here a few questions we can ask ourselves:
1. Do I look forward to exercising?
2. Am I exercising as a punishment for the food that I ate?
3. Does this exercise bring me joy?
4. Do I feel like doing this particular exercise today?
5. What exercise do I need today?
6. How do I feel after I exercise?
7. WHY am I exercising?
It takes a paradigm shift, but if we find movement that we enjoy, and if we can do it as a celebration rather than a punishment, we will be more likely to continue with our exercise routine and we will reap the benefits.
I am noticing this in real time with my own exercise habits.
For the first time in the last 6 years, I am not teaching group fitness classes. I have always loved being a group fitness instructor-- I love the energy and the sense of community I got from working in the company of others. But things have changed, and my workouts look different lately.
I now work out with my husband in our garage at 5:45 four mornings a week. We work out with heavier weights for a shorter amount of time, we sweat a ton, and don't really speak to each other very much. 😂 I absolutely love it. I love how my muscles are reacting, and I love how strong I feel. On the weekends, we may ride our mountain bikes on the trails, or we may take a hike, we may simply take a leisurely walk, or we may not do anything. It depends on how we feel.
Last weekend, the weather was cooler and I felt like running. So I did. It was great! I loved how I felt afterwards. I was sore the next day, so I took a rest day. I stretched because that's what I needed.
Do you notice a pattern? I am in the habit of lifting 4 days a week. I very rarely opt out. I may go lighter or take more rest breaks, but I created this habit and I don't have to think about it. This leaves lots of time for other kinds of movement, if I so desire. I like to mix things up, so I decide what I need when it is time. This makes things more interesting and enjoyable and I am more inclined to move 6 days a week because of it. I am listening to my intuition and the feedback my body is giving me.
If you are in an exercise rut, or if you are just trying to build an exercise habit, consider asking yourself the questions above and figuring out what movement is going to bring you joy and give you something to look forward to.
If you need some guidance, drop a comment!
EMOM stands for "Every Minute on the Minute," and it is a fun way to mix your workouts up a bit.
The idea is that you begin each exercise at the top of each minute. When you finish the designated number of reps, you can rest until the next minute begins.
I did a 5 minute EMOM here, but you can repeat it to make a 10, 15, or even 20 minute workout. This one requires no equipment-- just your body weight. You can add some weights if you would like to make it more challenging-- I mention it when I talk about modifications for each exercise.
Don't forget to warm up before and cool down after!
About the Author
Kim is a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and group fitness instructor. She is a mom of two grown kiddos, and a former elementary school teacher. Most days, she can be found training clients, prepping food, thinking about food, or writing about food. She is also obsessed with mindset and habits. She is a 9w1 on the enneagram.