Exercises for gym workout

Seated machine rows: Start by making sure you are sitting up straight and that your core is engaged. Now, initiate with your shoulder blades to pull the bar toward your chest. Hold for a moment—crack a walnut with your shoulder blades—and then slowly release.

Kathleen’s Tip: Make sure your upper back is doing the majority of the work, not your biceps.

Modification: If you are using a band, loop the band through the doorframe attachment and then anchor the attachment to the door at chest height. Hold one end of the band in each hand. Do 12 to 15 rows.

Windshield wipers: Ask the gym attendant for a towel. If you are at home steal one from your linen closet. Stand with your elbows at your sides, arms bent at a 90° angle. Hold the towel so that it is horizontal to the floor, palms up.

Draw your upper arm bones backwards in your shoulder sockets. Then, feel the muscles around your right shoulder blade work to rotate your right hand out to the right. Resist the rotation with the muscles around your left shoulder blade. Without resting, use the muscles around your left shoulder blade to rotate the towel to the left. Resist the motion with your right arm. Both arms should always be working—it is a continuous motion. One arm pulls while the other arm resists—your arms should look somewhat like windshield wipers.

Kathleen’s Tip: Don’t have a towel? No problem. Use a scarf.

Drunk walks: Start standing. Place your right heel in front of your left toes as if you were walking on a tightrope. Your feet should make a straight line. Take three steps along the rope. Try to look ahead NOT down. After three steps, pause and make sure your shoulders are back, your core is engaged and you are looking straight ahead. Then, close your eyes and try to maintain the position of your body. Don’t fall over. Open your eyes and continue.

Kathleen’s Tip: Pay attention to your feet. Keep your weight equally distributed. Don’t let yourself roll inward or outward on your feet.

Modification: In week two you add on an arm swing. When your eyes are closed swing your arms forward and backwards. The goal is to stay stable.

Lat pull-down: Find the lat pull-down machine. Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width and sit facing the machine. Make sure your core is engaged, hinge backwards about five degrees but don’t let your lower back arch. You should be hinged backwards from your hips, not your lower back. Pull the bar down by initiating from your upper back and (this is key) don’t round forward as you pull the bar down. If your shoulders round forward you are engaging more of your chest and shoulders, and less of your back.

Modification: If you are using a band, loop the band through the doorframe attachment and then anchor the attachment to the top of door. Hold one end of the band in each hand. Sit on a chair or stability ball or kneel on the ground and repeat the above motion.

Kathleen’s Tip: Want to challenge your balance? Sit on a stability ball and as you pull your arms down lift a leg.

Straight-arm lat pull-downs: Stand and face the pull-down machine. Hold the bar shoulder-width apart, palms down. Your arms should be straight. Keep them straight through the entire motion. First, draw your arm bones back in your shoulder sockets and engage your core. Then, keeping your arm bones back, pull the bar down to your thighs. Don’t round forward as you pull the bar down. If your shoulders round forward you are engaging more of your chest and shoulders and less of your back.

Kathleen’s Tip: As you pull the bar down, imagine a piece of string is pulling your chest up toward the ceiling.

Modification: If you are using a band, loop the band through the doorframe attachment. Anchor the attachment to the door at chest height. Stand holding one end of the band in each hand.

Standing stability ball “sweeps”: Stand on your right leg holding a ball. Make sure your right bum muscles are working and that both hip bones are facing forward. Sweep the ball over your left shoulder. Keep your hips facing forward and the weight distribution on your right foot even. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.

Modification: If you don’t own a ball, at home use a light book instead of the ball.

Modification: In week three, close your eyes.

Kathleen’s Tip: Look ahead, not down.

Bird-dog: Start on your hands and knees, hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed between all four of your limbs. Without shifting, straighten your opposite arm and leg. Keep your support leg straight. Use your core. Return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired repetitions and then switch sides.

Kathleen’s Tip: If you can, place a water bottle on your back. Don’t let it fall off as you move.

Modification: In week three, when your arm is extended in front of you, write your name with your hand. Keep your pelvis stable as your write your name.

Modification: In week four add a rotation. Start by extending your right arm and left leg. Then hold your leg extended as your reach your right arm out to your side and twist toward the ceiling. The twist should come from your ribs, not just your arm.

Front plank: This exercise can be done from your knees or your toes. Place your forearms and either your knees or toes on the ground. Make sure your bum is not up in the air and your lower back is not arched. Your body should look like a plank. Hold yourself in this plank position for the recommended time. Once you can easily do a minute from your knees, try doing the exercise from your toes, BUT initially decrease the time you hold the plank for. This will give your body time to adapt to the new, more advanced position.

Kathleen’s Tip: Whichever variation of the plank you chose to do, make sure your core stays engaged and you don’t round through your upper back. You shouldn’t look hunched over as you do the plank.

Modification: In week three you are going to do plank scapula retractions. In the plank position, pull your shoulder blades together 10 to 15 times. Don’t arch or round your back. The motion should come from your shoulder blades. Imagine you are trying to crack a walnut with your shoulder blades.

Side plank: Start lying on your side. Place one forearm on the ground under your shoulder. Bring yourself up so you are balancing on your forearm and either your knees or toes. Hold yourself up for the recommended time. Once you can easily do a minute from your knees, try the exercise from your toes, BUT initially decrease the time you hold the plank to give your body time to adapt to the new, more advanced position. Whichever variation you chose, make sure your core stays engaged and that you don’t round through your upper back. You shouldn’t look hunched over as you do the side plank. Draw your top shoulder backwards, and knit your ribs together.

Modification: In week four add a side leg lift. Hold yourself in the side plank position as you lift your top leg up and down. Think about using the bum muscles of your bottom leg to hold your body up. Use the bum muscles of the leg closest to the ceiling to lift the leg up and down. Keep your pelvis stable.

Kathleen’s Tip: I suggest initially doing this exercise from your knees. It is challenging.

Standing single arm cable rows: Start standing facing the cable machine in a staggered stance, right leg forward. Adjust the machine so the cable is at roughly chest height. Grab the D handle with your right hand, arm straight out in front of you. Bend your left arm so that your elbow is tucked into your side. This is your starting position. Row your right arm back as you press your left arm forward, like you are using a bow and arrow. Return your arms back to their starting position and repeat. When you row, don’t initiate the motion with your elbow and arm. Instead, initiate with your upper back. Use your torse muscles to twist as you row.

Modification: you a resistance band. Attach one end to a stable object. Hold the other end with one arm to perform the row.

Reverse flys with cables: Start facing the cable machine. Grab the attachment on the left side of the machine with your right hand and the attachment on the right side of the machine with your left hand. The cables should cross. Start with your arms fairly straight and at chest height. Use the muscles of your shoulder blades to pull your hands backwards out to the sides. Don’t bend at your elbows; the pivot point is your shoulder.

Modification: If you are using a band or dumbbells the motion is the same. Instead of using cables hold the band straight out in front of you, palms down. Use your shoulder blades to move your arms backwards. Move from your shoulders; don’t extend at your elbows.

Standing side leg lifts: Stand on one leg. Place your foot on the edge of a step or yoga block. Engage your bum muscles of the leg you are standing on. Make sure the weight in your support foot is even. Don’t lean. Stay straight as your other leg kicks out to the side.

Modifications: At home stand on a stair or a book.

Modification: In week four stand on a bosu. If you don’t have a bosu at home, stand on an unstable surface like a pillow.

Posture perfect exercises

Wall push: Stand with your back against the wall, knees slightly bent, arms straight and palms facing the wall. Pull your shoulders blades back, tuck your chin like you are trying to give yourself a double chin and simultaneously push into the wall with your hands. Hold for five seconds. Release and repeat 10 times. Don’t let your lower back arch as you pull your shoulders back into the wall.

Doorframe chest stretch: Place the forearm of one arm on the edge of a doorframe at roughly chest height. Your arm should be bent at a 90° angle. Turn your body gently away from the arm so you feel a slight stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch and repeat on the opposite arm.

Seated twist: Sit tall in your chair. Reach your left hand across your body so it sits on the outside of your right knee. Use your left hand to pull GENTLY on your right knee so you rotate to the right. Hold for 15 seconds and then switch sides.

Seated core work: Start by bringing your bum close to the edge of your chair. Keep your back straight and lean roughly 10° backwards. Hold for 10 seconds to a minute.

Upper back massage with a tennis ball: Stand with your upper back against the ball and the ball against a wall. Press your body into the ball so you feel a gentle massage. Move your body up and down so that the ball massages your entire back. When you feel a tender spot, hold and breathe into it for 10 seconds. Enjoy!

Wall Y to W’s: Stand with your bum and back against a wall, core engaged, legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and feet roughly half a foot in front of the wall. Your lower back should be neutral, which means you should be able to fit your fingers, but not your entire hand, between your lower spine and the wall.

Form a W with your arms against the wall. Keep your arms as close to the wall as you can as you straighten them until they form a Y with your body. Make sure your spine stays neutral. It shouldn’t arch as you move your arms, even if that means the back of your hands move away from the wall. Return your arms back to the W position and repeat five to 10 times.

Standing upper back doorframe stretch: Grip a doorframe with both hands at roughly chest height as you sit your hips backwards and round through your upper back. This is your starting position.

Now, resist more with your right hand and sit backwards more into your right hip. Think of trying to elongate the right hip; push it away from your right shoulder. Switch and repeat on the left side.

Wrist wall “walks”: Face a wall and lift your arms up to chest height. Keep your arms straight as you place the back of your hands against the wall, fingers down. Maintain this hand position as you “walk” your hands up the wall four or five times. Return your hands to their starting position and switch your hand placement. Place your palms against the wall, fingers up. Again, “walk” your hands up the wall.

Step away from the wall, gently rotate your wrists 10 times clockwise, followed by 10 times counter clockwise. Don’t force anything. All steps should feel good.

Shoulder, elbow, arm rotations: Start by simply rolling your shoulders backwards. Next, lift your arms up as you roll your shoulders back, but this time lead with your elbows. Finally, make a big circle backwards with your arms. Try and feel your shoulder blades move as you do all three actions. Repeat the cycle five times.

Figure four stretch: Sit tall with your shoulders back. Stay looking straight ahead as you cross your right ankle over your left knee. Push gently on your right thigh. Feel the stretch in the outside of the right hip. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite leg. Don’t allow your body to rotate toward the leg that is being stretched. Keep your shoulder stacked over your hips and your hips and shoulder level side to side.