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5 Exercises to Start When You Haven’t Worked Out in a While

  • Ronak Patel
  • February 4, 2016
Modified Plank exercise

Between work, chores, and other daily duties, who has time to work out? You probably start the week with good intentions, but life gets in the way and you spend your weekends binge-watching shows on Netflix instead of bench-pressing weights at the gym.

Don’t get down on yourself just yet, as only 20 percent of U.S. adults actually meet the physical activity guidelines set by the federal government. The good news? It’s never too late to get into shape, even when you haven’t worked out in a while. Let’s get started!

Modified Plank exercise
Modified plank exercise. Via Pbrunfree

1. Modified Plank

Most of your strength comes from your core. Give your torso a workout with a modified plank, which consists of a bent-knee medication that puts less stress on your body. When doing a plank for the first time, you may find it difficult to stay in position longer than a few seconds. Try holding the plank for 10 seconds, then increase your duration.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Lie down on your stomach and raise yourself up so that you’re only resting on your knees and forearms.
  • Have your upper arms form a right angle with your forearms.
  • Tightly pull your abs inwards for three deep breaths.
  • Slowly release.
  • Return to starting position and repeat.
Assisted squat exercise
Assisted squat. Via Acefitness

2. Assisted Squats

If you haven’t worked out in a while, you’re not ready for regular squats just yet. Try an assisted squat, which engages the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles, while giving your legs the ultimate workout. Once you’ve mastered the assisted squat, move into a deeper squat, which engages the gluteus maximum (the biggest muscle in the butt) up to 28 percent more.

To do an assisted squat:

  • Wrap a towel or band around a sturdy object in front of you.
  • While standing with your feet hip-width apart, pull your abs inwards.
  • Lower your body into a squat position.
  • Slowly raise yourself back into standing position and repeat.
Superman exercise
Superman exercise. Via Bodybuilding.com

3. Superman

Here’s a classic even newbie exercisers should know. Superman puts your body into a position that emulates the super hero as he flies, hence the name. When trying Superman for the first time, attempt to hold the position for at least 15 seconds. Slowly increase your duration as you build up your endurance.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie down on your stomach with your arms fully extended in front of you.
  • Raise your arms, legs, and chest off the floor simultaneously.
  • Hold this pose, squeezing your lower back to get optimal results.
  • Gradually lower your arms, legs, and chest to return to starting position.
Bicycle Maneuver exercise
Bicycle maneuver exercise. Via Lifestyle.inquirer

4. Bicycle Maneuver

Don’t have time for a quick bicycle ride? Here’s the next best thing. The bicycle maneuver is considered to be the single most effective abdominal exercise, simultaneously stimulating the obliques and rectus abdominus. The exercise is simple and mimics riding a bike.

Check out how it’s done:

  • Lie down on your back, bring your knees in towards your chest.
  • Use your hands to help support your head.
  • Lift your shoulder blades off the floor.
  • Twist to bring your right elbow to your left knee.
  • Twist to bring your left elbow to your right knee.
  • Alternate, bringing each elbow to the opposite knee.
Russian twist exercise
Russian twist exercise. Via Tribesports

5. Russian Twist

For a full abdominal workout, try Russian twists. Simple, yet effective, Russian twists target the rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and transverse abdominals. While no equipment is needed to do this exercise routine, weights can gradually be added to make the work out more challenging.

To complete a Russian twist:

  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
  • Lean back to create a 45-degree angle to the floor with your torso, while keeping your spine straight.
  • Extend your arms out in front of your, one hand on top of the other.
  • Slowly rotate to the right as far as you can.
  • Reverse movement all the way to your left side.

Final Thoughts

What makes these beginner exercises so great is that they’re gym-optional and require no equipment. Only your body is used as resistance, which creates an effective workout without having to spend hours working out. Of course, you’ll need to master proper form to reduce your risk of injury and to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts.

If you haven’t worked out in a while, reaching a healthy, fit state of being may seem inconceivable. During your time away, you likely lost endurance, stamina, and strength, and may have even gained a few pounds due to fewer calories burned. When restarting your exercise habit, start slow and build up your capacity. Increase your odds of sticking to your work out long-term by rewarding yourself for meeting small, measurable goals.


 

 

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