Fitness Fridays #1

Before the pandemic, it was no problem for us to get some steps in—all we had to do was walk from one class to the next, from Dobbins to Shah. Nowadays, it’s fair to say that it’s been more challenging to stay active and avoid a sedentary lifestyle of sitting in a chair all day. Have no fear, “Fitness Friday” is here! Below, I’ve compiled my first list of five bodyweight exercises that you can do to get up and get your blood pumping.

Exercise 1: Planks

Muthu Panchanatham


  • How to perform the exercise: Get into a high plank position and set your forearms down on the ground. Ensure your elbows are under your shoulders with your legs and feet straight behind you and your back flat and unwavering. Squeeze your core, glutes and quads and hold this position.
  • Recommended duration: The duration of this exercises can vary depending on how strong your core is—again, start at around 30-45 seconds and build your way up to 2-3 minutes.
  • Benefits: Planks strengthen your core and improve your posture and flexibility.
  • Tips: After holding the plank for a while, it becomes tempting to lower your back—resist this temptation!

Exercise 2: Tricep Push-Ups

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Keeping your hips level and your legs straight, lower yourself down to the ground while keeping your elbows pointed behind you. After driving your chest down, with your forearms forming a right angle with your upper arms, push hard into the ground to lift your body back up.
  • Recommended number of repetitions: Start at a reasonable number of repetitions (like 20 pushups a day), and after a while, if you feel you can crank out those 20 pushups with relative ease, gradually increase the number of repetitions.
  • Benefits: Tricep push-ups build upper body strength, targeting the pectoral, deltoid and tricep muscles.
  • Tips: If you are unable to push yourself back up, try performing tricep pushups at an angle. For example, lean against a counter and practice repeatedly until you can push yourself back up from the ground.

Exercise 3: Squats

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Start in a squat position (knees bent, straight back, feet shoulder-width apart, toes forward). Plant your feet down. Keeping your chest up, bend your knees more and push your hips back, and if you want a challenge, lower yourself slowly to increase the tension on your muscles. Stop when your quads become parallel with the floor. Making sure to keep your feet glued to the ground, bring yourself back up, exhaling as you do so. 
  • Recommended number of repetitions: Start at a reasonable number and slowly increase the number of reps as you build your lower body strength.
  • Benefits: Squats strengthen your glutes and quads, build your calf muscles, develop your core strength and also increase your vertical jump.
  • Tips: Make sure that you keep your feet planted firmly on the ground at all times. Don’t squat down too low or squat too fast.

Exercise 4: Mountain Climbers

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Start in a high plank position. Your hands should be set on the floor shoulder width apart, with your back flat and straight and abdomen muscles engaged. Pull your right leg in close to your abdomen and then do the same with your right leg. Make sure your hips are as level as possible, while quickly switching between legs as though you were running up a mountain (albeit on the floor). Remember to inhale and exhale as you switch legs.
  • Recommended duration: Start at a reasonable amount of time and slowly increase the duration as you get a feel for the exercise.
  • Benefits: Mountain climbers build core strength and agility and strengthen your arms and quads.
  • Tips: Don’t bounce on your toes as this can lead to injury. When you bring your knee into your chest, make sure your toes actually touch the ground before switching.

Exercise 5: Burpees

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Start in a squat position: knees bent, back straight, feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your hands to the floor, shifting your weight forward as you do this. Kick your feet out behind you, and do a push-up (optional). Frog-jump your feet back to their initial position and let your momentum carry your hands back up. Jump quickly, landing back into your initial squat position.
  • Recommended number of repetitions: Start off at a small number of repetitions to get a feel for the exercise, and then slowly build your way up to a comfortable number of repetitions (don’t over-exert yourself!).
  • Benefits: Burpees primarily target the lower body, strengthening the legs, hips, buttocks, chest, arms and shoulders.
  • Tips: Don’t let your back sag and try not to stick your rear end too high.