By Miguel J. Ortiz
Around this time last year just about the entire world was hit with COVID-19. In the U.S. everything was officially shut down around mid-March. In April a lot of people already had an idea about what to do for exercise – especially with everything closed. A lot of people’s circumstances varied, but one thing was certain – it was vital to become healthier as a society. And, for society to be healthier, we had to work on ourselves by changing our diet, exercising more or eliminating bad habits like smoking.
With all the gyms closed, many were forced to become innovative with their workouts. Some people had equipment dilemmas, for others it was a lack of motivation. A little over a year later, some places remain closed, but there is hope. We also have a lot more people dedicated to exercise, a society driven to become healthier and an online fitness industry that is booming. So, since health is wealth, let’s look at some bodyweight movements that are necessary for maintaining functional movement patterns. They will keep you ready to attack the day.
First, I think it’s very important that we start on the floor and work our way up. Make sure you use a mat, carpet or something soft. Let’s begin with the famous glute raise. This exercise is not only a great glute activator, but it also assists in strengthening your core. Strengthening your core is crucial for posture and bigger movement patterns. A glute raise is performed by lying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Begin by pressing your heels into the floor and lifting your hips off ground. Make sure to squeeze your glutes on the way up for proper engagement and to ensure proper movement of the spine.
For the second movement, we are still on the floor. The next movement is a kneeling bi-lateral raise. This exercise is excellent for balancing out the spine, engaging your core and stretching the shoulder blade. Start with hands and knees on the floor, you’ll begin by raising one leg back to the wall behind you, do not try to raise toward ceiling as we want to keep a neutral spine, no arching. If you raised you right leg try to raise your left arm (opposite) toward the wall in front of you. This will challenge your core strength and balance.
For the third exercise, still on the floor, is the push up. If you have bad wrists or a bad back, you can start with some good planks. You can also do push-ups from your knees or on an elevated surface. Either way, these exercises focus more on core and upper body. However, there is a trick. To completely eliminate any pain in your back when doing push-ups, engage your glutes before beginning the rep and it will do wonders.
The fourth exercise, and now we can stand, are squats. Whether exercising or simply picking something up, our legs are crucial for movement and core strength. If you need assistance when preforming multiple reps, I suggest using a stable chair to repeatedly sit up and down. This way you can tell progress is being made when daily routines get easier.
The fifth exercise is the hip hinge/toe touch. This movement focuses on utilizing the muscles in your legs, more specifically hamstrings and glutes, to align your back while hinging/bending over. This not only works the legs and hips more appropriately but strengthens the core as well. And, personally, I believe at any point in time someone should be able to touch their toes. It’s a simple test of flexibility and general mobility of lower and slightly upper body.
Use these five exercises daily, performing at least two sets of 10 reps of each movement and your body will be sure to thank you down the road.
Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.