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  • Brent Yoder

Top 5 Exercises to Maximize Your Time and Burn

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Wait… Did I exercise today? As the holiday to-dos rush in, often our exercise regimes rush out. Add in the holiday parties teeming with tempting glasses of rich eggnog and cocoa… "hey, do you want a cookie with that?" and you have a recipe for a very (yummy) lethargic holiday!

Incorporating exercise into your daily routines is a challenging battle. While struggling to find time for work, family, and basic necessities, exercise can feel like another impossible item to accomplish on a never-ending to-do list.

Maybe you've finally carved out a few precious moments to exercise? Now you have the task of reading countless articles or finding the perfect fitness video, all claiming to be health experts! So, where do you even start?

Luckily, we have 5 of the top exercises recommended by physical therapists (the masters of the muscular-skeletal system) sure to maximize your time and your burn! Plus, they are easy to incorporate into your crazy, busy holiday season!

1. Squats for Days!

Well, maybe not for days, but we do recommend that you squat your age once a day. Squats are a powerful exercise for your leg muscles. If executed in proper form, a squat works your quads, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, calves, and hip abductors. Note the width of your shoulders, and then stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Picture yourself sitting back in a chair. You want to ensure your hips and bottom lower towards the ground while your chest remains straight and upright. Squatting your age isn't challenging enough for you? Let's double your age! Squatting your age is a little more than you are up to? Start small and work your way up!

Motivation Moment: Having trouble remembering to do your squats? Your reps can easily be spread throughout the day! An excellent squat reminder is to do 5-10 reps every time you use the restroom.

2. Missing the Sea? Try These Clamshells On for Size

While this exercise won’t make you feel like you're at the ocean, it will help your booty be swimsuit weather-ready! ​​The clamshell exercise targets the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscles. So why care about those muscles? Well, they are the unsung heroes of your bottom! Responsible for stabilizing your pelvis, protecting your knees and lower back from unnecessary strain, and propelling each step you take, the gluteus muscles need a little love! Strengthening these muscles brings more power and stability to your hips and will help you maintain the balance between your inner and outer thighs and your pelvic floor.

To complete a perfect clamshell, start by laying down on your side with your feet and hips stacked. You will then want to bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, and your head should rest on your arm. Pull your knees toward your body until your feet line up with your butt. Make sure the upper hip does not tilt backward but remains stacked over your lower leg. Next, tighten your core and hold your feet together while lifting your upper leg off the floor. Hold for 1 second and squeeze your glute (booty) muscles at the top before slowly lowering to start again!

Are you interested in a challenge? Add a resistance band around both thighs and embrace the burn!

Motivation Moment: Need a little more motivation? Studies have shown that weak hip muscles are one of the leading causes of falls in the elderly. Don't feel like doing those clamshells? Think about the future you want! Start working those muscles now to maintain strong habits to carry you into a healthier future.

3. The Dreaded Push-Up

You didn't think we would write a list of top power exercises to maximize your time and burn without adding push-ups in here, did you? Push-ups are a simple but highly effective exercise to build upper body strength. This all-in-one exercise works the triceps, pectoral muscles, shoulders, and abdominal muscles.

Unsure if you can manage the full brunt of a push-up? Don't worry; we got you! First, start your push-up routine on your knees instead of on your toes. If you remain consistent, you should be pumping out push-ups from your toes in no time. Tired of the standard push-up position? Push-ups are highly versatile! You can modify your hand and feet positions to increase the intensity and target various muscle groups. A few examples are the seal push-up, the diamond push-up, and the infamous staggered hand push-up.

Motivation Moment: Push-ups getting you down? Feeling discouraged over your progress? Pick a unique hand/feet variation of the push-up that you would like to work towards to help yourself stay motivated!

4. How Long Can you Hold it? Planks!

We all covet that elusive six-pack, and while it is true that 6-pack abs are predominantly made in the kitchen, the importance of a strong core can not be overstated. Planks are a highly effective abdominal exercise, beating out crunches and sit-ups and placing less pressure on your back and neck muscles. Planks are a powerhouse exercise to improve stability and posture, reduce your chance of injury, and encourage mobility by working your abdominal muscles, deep core muscles, and lower back.

Similar to push-ups, planks are highly versatile. You can do low planks, high planks, side planks, shoulder taps, toe taps, the list goes on! The basic plank position begins with you lying facedown on your stomach. Next, you will place your hands directly under your shoulders below your pectoral muscles and push yourself up onto your hands and toes, so your body resembles a plank. Make sure to tighten your core to ensure you don't fatigue your lower back! It helps to do a plank in front of a mirror so you can ensure your lower back is not dipping or arching. Start out holding your plank for just 15 seconds at a time, building up to 30 and eventually 60-second sessions! Try to do this 3-5x per day – you'll be feeling stronger in no time!

Motivating Moment: Sometimes, it feels impossible to incorporate 30 seconds of exercise into your life. We challenge you to spend 30 seconds of your social media time with your phone in front of you and your timer going. Each time you bust out your phone to check your Snapchat notification consider yourself reminded it is time to hold that plank while you peruse!

5. Bounce With Me! Jumping Jacks

Ever wonder why every fitness regime tends to include some form of jumping jacks? Well, there's a reason why athletes, boxers, and the military rely on this exercise in their workout routines! Requiring minimal space, jumping jacks are one of the easiest ways to get cardio from literally anywhere!

Jumping jacks are a form of plyometrics, ​​basically, an exercise where you repeat rapid movements that stretch and contract the muscles (such as jumping) to increase muscle power. They combine aerobic exercise and resistance training all in one breathless package! So not only do you get your heart pumping, but you also are working your entire body, especially your glutes, quadriceps, and hip flexors. As if that wasn't enough, you're also stretching out your shoulder muscles when you lift your arms over your head and contract your abdominal muscles to stay balanced.

Motivation Moment: Challenge yourself to work up to 100 jumping jacks a day! Feeling lethargic at work? Hitting that afternoon slump? Time to pump some blood to your brain and bust out your jumping jacks! Bonus, challenge yourself and motivate others through testing how many different places you can do your jumping jacks in each week! Shoot for a new spot every day and mark the moment on your social media account of choice!

A Little Bonus:

How often do you put your shoes on? Our bet is it's a daily occurrence! Next time you put your shoes on, try to do it from a standing position. While we admit it isn't really an exercise, it does take a solid core for balance and strong glutes to hold the position. It also encourages mobility and flexibility, making it a fantastic indicator of your overall fitness level!

Recovering from an injury? Experiencing discomfort when exercising? Need additional support, motivation, encouragement, and guidance? We are here to help! Click here to see the incredible services we offer, and feel free to contact us to set up a free consultation appointment! Passionate about providing support to you, we want to aid in your personal journey towards health and wellness.

From all of us at Yoder Physical Therapy, we wish you and your family a very happy and healthy holiday!

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