I hope you are having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Long holiday weekends can be full of fun with friends and family and leave little time for your regular workout. Hopefully, you are doing active things like playing games at a cookout or swimming at the newly opened pool. If not, or even if you are, here is an arm workout you can do at home to get some strength training in. It's done as a circuit so you will do 10 - 12 repetitions of each exercise and then repeat the circuit 2-3 times based on the time you have available and your fitness level. If you are new to strength training, do 8 repetitions of each move and do the circuit 2 times through. If you don't have dumbbells at home you could use soup cans or bottles of water for the exercises. For each move, hold the contracted position for a second before returning to the starting position.
Bicep Curl: Stand up with a dumbbell on each hand being held at arms length. The elbows should be close to the torso. Rotate the palms of the hands until they are facing forward. While holding the upper arm stationary, curl the weights forward while contracting the biceps as you breathe out. Only the forearms should move. Continue the movement until your biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder level.
Tricep Kickback: Knees slightly bent, bend forward at waist with a flat back, parallel to the floor.
Place left hand on left lower thigh, right elbow should be up at side. Wrist and forearm should be in front of right shoulder. Slowly kick forearm back. Stop just before locking out the elbows. Pause and lightly squeeze the tricep area. Bring forearm back to starting position, in front of your shoulder.
Using the same arm repeat the exercise. Repeat same procedure with other arm.
Shoulder Press: While holding a dumbbell in each hand, raise the dumbbells to shoulder height one at a time. Make sure to rotate your wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing forward. This is your starting position. Now, exhale and push the dumbbells upward until they touch at the top. Then, after a brief pause at the top contracted position, slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position while inhaling.
Front Raise: Hold a dumbbell in each hand parallel to the front of your thighs. Raise your arms to shoulder height and then lower down slowly. Keep shoulders relaxed.
Side Raise: Hold a dumbbell in each hand parallel to the side of your thighs. Raise your arms out to the side to shoulder height and then lower down slowly. Keep shoulders relaxed.
Rear Delt Fly: Sit on the edge of a chair or bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forward from the waist and let the weights hang down from your shoulders with your palms facing in. Raise your arms out to your sides (keeping your hands wide) until they reach shoulder height. Slowly return to starting position.
There is a lot of talk about the health risks of inactivity (Sitting is The New Smoking!) and sitting all day at an office job doesn't make it easy to be active. Over the past few years the research has grown citing the many dangers of sitting too much; they include an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, some forms of cancers, weight gain and even premature death (Chau et al. 2012; Dustan, Thorp, & Healty 2011; van der Ploeg et al. 2012.)
Some may fear that taking breaks during the workday will keep them from getting their work done. Researchers have found otherwise. On days participants in one study exercised, they reported improvements in mood and job performance (Coulson, McKenna & Field 2008). Another study found that walking had a large effect on creativity (Oppezzo & Schwartz 2014). The creative boost was more significant if done outside. It was after returning to their seats that participants experienced the boost. Other studies demonstrate exercise has an immediate benefit on cognitive ability.
Good news, it doesn't take a lot of exercise to see improvement in cognition, creativity and productivity (plus help you prevent all the risks of too much inactivity!). Here are a few simple and quick workouts that don't require any special equipment.
1. Walk! Take a break with coworkers and walk around the building. Bonus if you can move that walk outside. Next time you find yourself talking with a coworker in the office, get up and make it a walking chat or meeting.
2. Perform the following exercises at your desk. 5 - 15 reps of each. Repeat 2-3 times.
- Chair Squats
- Desk Push Ups
- Elbow Plank
- Dips on Desk
3. Perform the following moves for 20 seconds with a 10 second break in between. Repeat 2 - 3 times.
- High Knee March
- Plank Knee Tuck
- Step Touch
- Hamstring Curl
I get it, finding time to work out is hard. When your life is busy, exercise is usually the first thing to be cut. There are many reasons that fitness should be a priority; it reduces stress, increases your energy and is good for you (just to name a few!) but it still often gets pushed aside.
Here are a few tips to keep you motivated to keep fitness in your weekly routine.
1. Find Your Why - Why do you want to be healthier or stay healthy? Do you want to be able to play with or keep up with your kids? Do you want to be able to lift your grandkids? Do you want to stop taking high blood pressure medication? What ever the reason you are focusing on your health and wellness, keep that in mind when you want to cancel that walk or workout class.
2. Make It An Appointment - Your workout should be part of your schedule just like any other appointment or meeting. Put it in your schedule and treat it like an appointment that you can't cancel.
3. Find An Accountability Partner - Tell your friends and family what your goals are and have them call you out if you start sliding back away from those goals. Even better, have one of those friends or family members join you for a workout. You won't cancel if you know someone is there waiting for you.
Hiring a personal trainer is also a way to have accountability. You'll have an appointment and someone there to motivate you through your workout. Contact me for more info!