Not exactly sure how to do a specific strength exercise? Need to adjust it based on your fitness level? You’ve come to the right place! All of the strength exercises referenced in this plan are available below with instructions and video to ensure that you feel totally confident as you perform each movement.
- Begin with the barbell supported on top of the traps. The chest should be up and the head facing forward. Adopt a hip-width stance with the feet turned out as needed.
- Descend by flexing the knees, refraining from moving the hips back as much as possible. This requires that the knees travel forward. Ensure that they stay align with the feet. The goal is to keep the torso as upright as possible.
- Continue all the way down, keeping the weight on the front of the heel. At the moment the upper legs contact the lower legs reverse the motion, driving the weight upward.
* Variations, in order of difficulty: Bodyweight only, Goblet Squat (holding a kettlebell at chest height in front of you), Dumbbell Squat.
- Lie on a flat bench and start by holding a barbell above your chest with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Lift bar off rack and slowly lower the barbell to the middle of your chest.
- Pause if desired, then press the barbell back up to the start position until your arms are straight.
Variations: Use dumbbells or a machine if lower weight is desired.
- Approach the bar so that it is centered over your feet. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Bend at the hip to grip the bar at shoulder-width allowing your shoulder blades to protract.
- With your feet and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and flex the knees until your shins contact the bar. Look forward with your head. Keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward.
- After the bar passes the knees aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.
- Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.
Variations: You can lower the intensity by using kettle bells or dumbbells as opposed to a barbell
- Grasp the bar using a shoulder-width grip with your arms extended straight overhead.
- Pull the bar down in front to the top of your chest, bending at the elbows.
- Straighten your arms fully, returning the bar to the top position.
- Sit on a leg press machine, and place your feet against the pad about shoulder width apart. Make sure your knees are bent at the start of the exercise.
- Slowly push against the pad using your heels until your knees are almost straight. Do not lock your knees straight at the peak of this exercise. Then move back into the start position.
- Repeat for each rep.
DUMBBELL STEP UPS
- Stand up straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing the side your legs).
- Place the right foot on the elevated platform. Step on the platform by extending the hip and the knee of your right leg. Use the heel mainly to lift the rest of your body up and place the foot of the left leg on the platform as well. Breathe out as you execute the force required to come up.
- Step down with the left leg by flexing the hip and knee of the right leg as you inhale. Return to the original standing position by placing the right foot of to next to the left foot on the initial position.
- Repeat with the right leg for the recommended amount of repetitions and then perform with the left leg.
Variation: Bodyweight only.
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT
- Position yourself into a staggered stance with the rear foot elevated on a bench or box and front foot forward.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, letting them hang at the sides. This will be your starting position.
- Begin by descending, flexing your knee and hip to lower your body down. Maintain good posture throughout the movement. Keep the front knee in line with the foot as you perform the exercise.
- At the bottom of the movement, drive through the heel to extend the knee and hip to return to the starting position.
- Switch legs and complete the desired amount of reps with the other leg.
Variation: Bodyweight only.
SINGLE LEG BOX SQUAT
- Stand upright with one foot slightly off the floor.
- Slowly lower your body into a squat position on the standing foot, keeping your back neutral/flat and the other foot off the floor and extended in front of you.
- Go down to the bench or box, touching as lightly as possible. Do not just plop down.
- Engage glutes, driving through the heels to return to the starting position.
- Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.
Variation (harder): Pistol squats if you can do them.
DUMBBELL SINGLE LEG DEADLIFT
- Stand on one leg, on the same side that you hold the dumbbell/kettlebell (if only using one).
- Keeping that knee slightly bent, perform a stiff legged deadlift by bending at the hip, extending your free leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the weight until you are parallel to the ground.
- Return to the upright position.
Variations, in order of difficulty: Bodyweight only, single dumbbell/kettlebell, two dumbbells/kettlebells.
DUMBBELL FORWARD LUNGE
- Stand upright with dumbbells in each hand down your sides.
- Lunge forward with your left leg, landing on your heel first. Lower your body by bending at your knee and left hip, while lowering the right knee until it almost touches the floor.
- Return to the starting position by pushing on the left leg.
- Repeat with right leg and alternate between your left and right legs.
Variations: Bodyweight only or barbell lunges.
JEFFERSON CURL (BACK AND HAMSTRINGS)
- Start by standing on a stable, elevated surface such as a box, bench, or thick set of mats. With a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or other weight in your hands, stand up tall with your legs straight and perfectly together. Begin the movement by tucking your chin into your chest, then slowly flexing your spine (rounding your back) one vertebrae at a time as you feel the weight “pull” you lower towards the floor. Continue lowering, being sure to keep the weight balanced on the ball of your foot so that you do not lean back. Leaning back with your hips actually decreases the stretch, as it counterbalances the weight so that your body does not have to work as hard.
- Towards the bottom of the movement, your entire spine should have one uniform curve to it. Take a video or use a training partner so that you can pinpoint the spot in your lower back that is most flat, then focus on “drawing your belly button into your spine.” You can also think about trying to lay your stomach on your thighs, or your nose onto your knees. Be sure to breathe consistently throughout the movement, and sink as low as you can while keeping your legs locked out and perfectly straight.
- To come up, simply reverse the movement, articulating the spine one vertebrae at a time beginning with the low back, mid back, and then upper back. Keep your chin tucked into your chest throughout, waiting until you are standing up all the way before finally extending your neck straight. Repeat this Jefferson Curl for reps in order to stretch through your hamstrings, glutes, lumbar fascia, and even low traps.
- Support your body on your toes with your hands on dumbbells/kettlebells and your arms straight.
- Raise one dumbbell (or kettlebell) up to your shoulder, bending your elbow, shifting your weight to the opposite side.
- Lower the weight and repeat on the other side.
- Alternate sides with each rep.
SINGLE ARM ROW
- Place one knee on a bench, one hand in a push-up position. Body parallel to the floor with back straight, one hand holding the dumbbell onto your side.
- Pull the dumbbell up to the side of your chest, keeping arm close to the body.
- Lower the dumbbell returning to starting position.
- Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.
DUMBBELL SIDE BENDS
- Stand straight up with a dumbbell in your right hand and your back straight.
- Place your left hand on your waist.
- Begin by bending to the right as far as you can, and then to the left as far as you can, using only your waist.
- After completing your target number of reps, switch the dumbbell to the other hand and repeat.
OBLIQUE SIDE LEG RAISE
- Lie on your side with your head resting on one hand, the other hand placed on the floor against the chest, legs straight.
- Slowly raise your legs, keeping them together.
- Lower your legs returning to starting position.
- Repeat until you reach the desired amount of reps.
SINGLE LEG BRIDGE
- Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Make sure your feet are under your knees.
- Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles.
- Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
- Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
- Slowly raise and extend one leg while keeping your pelvis raised and level. If your hips sag or drop, place the leg back on the floor and do a double leg bridge until you become stronger.
*This can either be held as a static exercise or done for reps.
Variation: Normal (two-legged) bridge.
- Lie face down on a mat with elbows resting on the floor next to your chest, palms facing forward or in a fist position, feet together.
- Push your body off the floor in a pushup position with your body resting on elbows or hands.
- Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes. Hold for time indicated, then lower body returning to starting position.
Variation: Straight arm plank (easier).
- Lie flat on the floor with the lower back pressed into the ground.
- Place your hands slightly either side of your head, do not lock your fingers or pull the head up.
- Lift your knees to a 45 degree angle.
- At first slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion with the legs.
- Alternately touching your elbows to the opposite knee twisting back and forth through the core, keep the elbows back rather than forward to the chest as this could strain the neck
Variation: lie flat on your back and do not try to alternatively touch your elbows to your knees.
- Lie down on your side. Place your feet together on top of each other. Resting on your elbow and hand resting on the floor.
- Prop yourself up, raising your hips, keeping your body straight.
- Hold based on recommended time.
Variations: Place your top foot on the ground (easier), extend arm straight above you (harder).
- Lie down on the floor placing your feet flat on the floor. Your legs should be bent at the knees.
- Elevate your upper body so that it creates an imaginary V-shape with your thighs. Clasp your hands together and hold them in front of you near your belly button. If you desire more of a challenge hold a plate or dumbbell (see “variations” below). This is the starting position.
- Twist your torso to the right side until your hands touch the floor, breathing out.
- Hold the contraction for a second and move back to the starting position while breathing out. Now move to the opposite side performing the same techniques you applied to the right side.
- Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Variations, from least to most difficult: No weight, feet on the ground. No weight, feet off the ground. weight, feet on the ground. weight, feet off the ground.
- Start with your knees and right elbow on the mat. Holding your body in a straight line
- Drop your right hip to the mat, stretching your oblique.
- Then lift your left hip up above using your obliques.