Beginner’s Workout #4 – Courtney Townley

Posted on March 15, 2010 by


When you are just starting an exercise program it is highly beneficial and most time efficient to start with movements that involve more than one muscle group and multiple joints.  These types of movements are commonly referred to as “compound movements”.   In the program below, you will hit all of the major muscle groups with just a few simple exercises and in a fraction of the time it would take you to isolate each muscle group independently.  Because compound movements involve so many muscle groups at once, they require more energy to perform, which means more calories expended!

Plank Hold
Starting on all fours, take a moment to make sure your hands are lined up directly under your shoulders, spread your hands open and try to get equal pressure in all of your fingers.  Extend one leg directly behind you and then take the second one back to join it.  As you hold the plank position imagine pushing your torso as far away from the floor as possible, so you avoid sinking between your shoulder blades.  Hold this position for 20 seconds, rest your knees on the floor for 5 seconds, and then repeat 2 more times.  You should feel a tremendous amount of work in your abs.   To challenge this movement try holding the plank for longer periods of time, and eventually start playing with lifting 1 foot off the floor for a few seconds (this will really target your core stabilizers…specifically your obliques).

Squat with Forward...

Squat with Forward Reach and Overhead Reach
We often think of squats as an exercise for the legs, but they are tremendous strength builders for the torso, as well.  Hold one dumbbell between 2 hands at chest level, as you bend your knees, extend your arms toward the floor (as if you were going to set the weight down in front of you) only as low as you can keep your spine straight.  As you stand up bring the weight back to your chest and then push the dumbbell overhead.  Bring the weight back down to chest level and repeat a total of 15 reps.  To challenge the exercise try squatting a little deeper (but always keeping heels on the floor),  and/or increase the weight you are lifting.

Bridge with Stability Ball

Bridge with Stability Ball Against the Wall
The beauty of working with stability balls is that they offer an element of instability to your environment, which makes all of the muscles responsible for stabilizing your spine and pelvis work harder to keep you centered and balanced.  Place a stability ball against the wall, put your feet on the face of the ball, knees bent at 90 degrees and extend your arms by your sides.  Elevate your hips until the front of your hip joint is fully extended and then slowly lower your hips back to the floor.   You will want to focus here on preventing the pelvis from rotating and the knees from drifting outwards.  It is helpful to place a yoga block or a towel between your knees to keep your legs properly aligned.  Repeat this movement 15 times.  When you start feeling really confident, try the same exercise without the ball against the wall.

Spinal Rotation Seated on Stability Ball
Seated on a stability ball with the feet placed directly under the knees, hip width apart, and arms reaching out to the sides of the Spinal Rotationshoulders, rotate your torso as far as possible to the right, and then repeat to the left.   Try to keep an even amount of weight on both sit bones and keep your knees level to each other.  To progress this, as you rotate to the right, try lifting your right foot off of the floor and as you rotate left, try picking up your left foot.  This is awesome work for the spinal stabilizers and the obliques.

Reverse Flies

Reverse Flies on Stability Ball
Lying on your stomach on a stability ball, feet on the floor and pressing against a wall.  Lift your spine up so you are in a long diagonal line from the top of your head to your heels.  Start with your arms reaching to the floor just beneath your shoulders, and then lift the arms to shoulder height as you think of bringing your shoulder blades closer to your spine.  Holding the diagonal line will work your back and hip extensors, while lifting your arms will work the mid-trap area, which has a tendency to be weak due to poor postural habits.  Repeat the lifting and lowering of the arms 12-15 times without changing the spinal position.  When you feel ready for a challenge…add small weights to the movment.