Fitness Fridays #3

by Muthu Panchanatham and Kushal Shah

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 is Harker Aquila’s third compilation of five bodyweight exercises that you can do to get up and get your blood pumping!

Exercise 1: Crunches

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Lie down on the floor, with your stomach facing the ceiling. Rest your hands underneath your head, while bending your knees and placing your feet firmly on the floor. Using your abdominal muscles, bring your chest up about half the distance to your knees (your shoulder blades should be a few inches off the ground when you reach the top of your crunch). Bring yourself back down and repeat.
  • Recommended duration: Try to perform three sets of 20 repetitions.
  • Benefits: Crunches strengthen both the abs and the back.
  • Tips: Remember to breathe, and make sure you aren’t pulling your head up!

Exercise 2: Jumping Jacks

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Stand up straight, with your arms at your sides and your feet together. Next, jump in the air and swing your arms and legs outward. If you are doing this exercise correctly, your stance in mid-air should look like a starfish. Your arms should touch at the top,  and then come back down to your side as you bring your feet together again.
  • Recommended duration: Try to perform four sets of 15 repetitions.
  • Benefits: Jumping jacks strengthen the heart and lungs.
  • Tips: Make sure your movements are controlled and be aware of your surroundings! Try not to take out a passerby’s eye!

Exercise 3: Russian Twists

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Start by sitting with your knees bent and your feet touching the ground. Lean backward so your feet come off the floor. Tighten your abs, so that your core remains engaged. When you are ready, twist your entire upper body to one side, while keeping your legs completely still. Hold for one second and then twist to the other side. Repeat and feel the burn!
  • Recommended duration: Try to perform three sets of 15 repetitions.
  • Benefits: Russian twists improve the core abdominal muscles and obliques.
  • Tips: Once you are comfortable with regular Russian twists, add a weight to the exercise! Twist from side to side holding a 5 pound dumbbell.

Exercise 4: Glute Bridge

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Rest your hands at your sides. When ready, plant your feet firmly into the ground and thrust your hips upward, raising your upper body until your body is completely linear from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for a few seconds and then return to the starting position.
  • Recommended duration:  Try to perform four sets of 25 repetitions.
  • Benefits: Glute bridges strengthen the hamstrings and glutes.
  • Tips: Make sure you don’t raise your hips too high to avoid injuries. Remember, linear!

Exercise 5: Side Plank

Muthu Panchanatham
  • How to perform the exercise: Lie on your side with your legs extended and your feet stacked on top of each other. Keep your hips on the ground but position your arm directly under its corresponding shoulder and raise your upper body off the ground. Your arm can either be bent so that your elbow is under your shoulder (easier) or it can be extended so that your hand is under (harder). Finally, raise your hips up so that your entire body forms a straight line, and keep your other hand on the side of your hip. Hold this position for the duration of the exercise and then switch sides.
  • Recommended duration: Try to perform three sets of one minute (30 seconds on each side).
  • Benefits: Side planks strengthen the core and improve balance.
  • Tips: Remember to tighten your abs and squeeze your glutes so that you feel the full force of the workout. No pain, no gain!