We all start some sort of resolution right around the New Year, but why not get a jump on things before the holiday season puts your schedule into overdrive? You’ve got a couple months to build these four exercises into your routine a few times a week. By the New Year you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

Before starting any of these exercises, it’s always a good idea to warm up for a few minutes. Working out at home? Try walking up and down the stairs a couple times, walking around the block or doing a couple minutes of body-weight lunges.

Wall Squat
As simple as it sounds, find any wall you can cozy up against. With your feet about should width apart, and 12 or so inches from the wall, slowly lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the ground, knees at a 90 degree angle.  The second you start slipping down, or if your knees start coming closer together, stop and slowly raise yourself back to standing. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat two more times.

(Extra Credit)
Wall Squat & Squeeze
Work your inner thighs and pelvic floor by doing the exact same exercise with a pillow (folded in half) tucked between your thighs. Squeeze and hold for the duration.

  • Beginner: hold for 30 seconds
  • Intermediate: hold for 60 seconds
  • Advanced: hold for two minutes – you can do it!

Works: Glutes, Inner Thighs, Outer Thighs

Plank
Find an open spot on the floor, come down, resting on your elbows and knees with your hands faced palm down on the floor. Extend your legs out straight, resting on your toes. Tuck your tailbone under and try to pull your belly button into your spine. Relax you back as much as possible and push you weight through your heels.  If you start feeling pain in your lower back, or if you notice you’re back is sagging, come to your knees and rest for 30 seconds. Repeat two more times.

(Extra Credit) Single Leg Plank
Exactly the same as a regular plank, but on one leg. After you’re secure in plank position, lift one foot up and place it gently on the heel of the opposite foot. Keep the leg balancing straight without locking the knee.

  • Beginner: hold for 15 seconds
  • Intermediate: hold for 45 seconds
  • Advanced: hold for 75 seconds

Works: Abs

Soup Can Shoulders
Go to your kitchen cupboard and grab the big weights – soup cans. You laugh. Soup cans? They don’t weigh a lot…this will be a cinch. Give it a shot, my friend. They’re actually the perfect weight to do super shoulder-toning exercise.

Start seated or standing with your feet shoulder width apart and raise your arms out to the side, bringing them parallel with the ground. That’s it – now hold it. Don’t let your arms fall, and try to pull your shoulder blades down your back.

Extra Credit (Soup Can Shoulders with Rotation)
Go into the exercise in the same way. After your arms are extended, simply rotate your hands from palm down to palm up once every five seconds.

  • Beginner: hold for 30 seconds
  • Intermediate: hold for 60 seconds
  • Advanced: hold for 90 seconds

Works: Shoulders (deltoid)

Track Your Progress
Even if you work out regularly, finding different muscles that may not get enough attention can be a real eye-opener. If you’re starting out at a beginner level, then graduate yourself to beginner advanced. If you’re at the advanced level, throw in some extra credit. Want a real challenge, add an extra set.

Copyright 2010 www.TraciDMitchell.com. All right reserved.

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