Although many people dread working out and avoid it, movement can help you feel better in your body on a daily basis. With these easy and effective fitness moves, you can get stronger and feel good doing it. Some high-impact exercises aren’t appealing — working out is all about finding something that you enjoy and that makes you feel more fulfilled. Here are the most essential moves that can be completed (and modified) by all energy and fitness levels. They can all be done without any equipment, but you can add on resistance bands to increase challenges over time.
Whether it’s done on the forearms or the toes, this is one of the best strengtheners for the lower back and core. You can work up the time you spend on this, but start out holding one for 20-30 seconds. You can make it harder by holding for longer and doing knee taps on the ground, and you can make it easier by planking from your knees. It also makes progressing to a full pushup much easier. To target the obliques, do a side plank.
2. Downward Dog
A staple in yoga, the Downward Dog position stretches out your hamstring while lightly activating your core. It can help in flexibility and mobility training. Just push your hips into a V with your palms pressed into the floor. You can alternate between this position and a plank to work the core, and you can also transition into a lunge pose or three-legged dog. There are tons of ways to work the body with this pose — get creative!
A popular lower body strengthener, squats are a versatile way to burn out your muscles. Beyond working the glutes and the legs, it can get your heartbeat up and act as a form of daily cardio for 10-20 minutes. You can do a sumo squat, in which your legs are wider than your hips if you suffer from knee issues. Experiment with narrowing or widening your stance and consider adding a pulse or static hold. To add a challenge, you can also put a resistance band around your thighs.
4. Mountain Climbers
A great way to build on the core and obliques, this full-body move can help bring your heart rate up in no time at all. You don’t need any equipment, and you can control the speed. For more of a sweaty cardio workout, increase the speed. For lower impact, decrease the speed. Of course, this move is kind of like burpees and many people have a love/hate relationship with them. Picking the pace that’s right for you is important, and you can always take breaks or make modifications.
5. Leg Lifts
These can be done on the side, on all fours, or standing. If you’re standing, hold onto a chair or wall for balance. If you’re lying on your side, bend the bottom leg and straighten the top leg, lifting high and experimenting with pulses. You can add a resistance band to make this harder, and try lifting from all sides, including side, front, and back to get better engagement. See whether you prefer this move standing or laying down.
6. Glute Bridge
This can be done with your back on the ground and your hips lifted up. Drive your hips up with your feet firmly planted on the ground and squeeze your booty at the very top of the motion. To make this harder, you can rest a dumbbell on your pelvis, try pulses and holds, or add a resistance band. Doing glute bridges for just 40 seconds a day can help strengthen your bum, pelvic floor, and entire back body. Plus, it opens up the back and neck.
7. Bird Dog
A move done on the hands and knees, the bird dog is a lifelong exercise you can do that requires stability and balance but can be modified to your ability level. Start on all fours with Hans under shoulders and knees under hips. Keep your neck neutral and as you extend your left arm, extend your right leg at the same time, keeping your hips square. Pause for a couple of seconds and return to starting position before repeating with the opposite arm and leg.
8. Dead Bug
If you have issues putting pressure on your knees or wrist, you’ll love the dead bug, which is done lying on your back. It can work for all fitness levels and can help activate your deep core muscles. Begin lying on the back with your legs in a tabletop position. Extend your left leg and drop your right arm above your head, keeping your lower back on the ground. Then, bring your leg back to tabletop and do the same move with the opposite arm and leg. To make this harder, you can bring your arm further back behind your head.