During the busy holiday season it can be hard to find time for yourself, especially time to get a workout in. We asked the physical therapists at the CU Sports Medicine and Performance Center to send us some exercises that are simple and easy to do no matter where you are.
Take a look at each exercise below, there are videos demonstrating each move along with a description of the exercise. Maybe start with 5-10 reps of each and run through the list, or do one or two exercises per day. Create a regimen that works for you - just try to find a way to move your body every day. It's good for your physical and your mental health!
1. Santa Squats
Squats are an excellent lower body exercise especially as many of us plan to be getting back on the slopes soon. When performing a squat, you want to have your feet hip width apart and toes pointing straight ahead. Then sit back as if you are going to sit in a chair. Be mindful not to let your knees come in front of your toes and keep weight equally distributed throughout your foot. Inhale as you lower, exhale when you lift. You can add weight to make this exercise more challenging.
2. Sugar Plum Shoulder Taps
Shoulder taps are a great full body exercise, helping to strengthen your core and upper body while focusing on stability. To do a shoulder tap, you will be in a plank position, ensure your wrists are directly below your shoulders and your body forms a straight line. Lift one hand and tap the opposite shoulder, then lower and repeat on the other side. Try not to let your hips sway or dip. To make this exercise easier you can try spreading your feet wider, try it from an elevated surface like using a chair or table, or even doing it from your knees.
3. Gingerbread Glute Bridges
Glute bridges are a simple exercise targeting the gluteus maximus. Lay on your back and bend your knees, keeping feet about hip width apart. Push down through your heels to lift your hips up. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then lower and repeat. To progress this exercise, consider performing a single leg bridge but make sure your hips stay level.
4. Ice Skaters
Skaters are a great agility and balance exercise which also help with strength and stability in the lateral plane. To perform an ice skater, you will start standing on one leg and then hop side to side, switching legs as if jumping over a puddle or speed skating. Swing your arms, touching the opposite arm to the opposite standing leg when you land. Bend your knee as you land to absorb shock, keep your knee behind your toes, and focus on not letting your knee cave in. To make this more challenging, increase the distance of the hop or increase your speed.
This exercise will challenge your core in the frontal plane and focus on your obliques. Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands at your sides. Contract your abdominals and lift your head, neck, and shoulders, then alternate tapping each heel. You can change the difficulty of this exercise by moving your feet closer to you to make it easier or further away to make it more challenging.
6. Come all Ye Clamshells
Clamshells are a wonderful exercise targeting the gluteus medius. This muscle is on the outside of our hip and helps us lift our leg out to the side. This muscle can tend to be weak if we do not incorporate a lot of lateral movements into our workouts or daily routines. Strengthening the glute med helps add stability to the pelvis. To perform a clamshell, you will lie on your side with your knees bent. Keeping your hips stacked and slightly rolled forward, leaving your ankles together, you will open your top knee and then close. Do not let your hips roll backward. You should feel this working in the back/side of your hip, not in the front. To make this more challenging, consider adding a loop resistance band above your knees or performing a side plank while performing clamshells.
7. Reverse Nordic Curls
This exercise focuses on the quadriceps. You will begin kneeling, try kneeling on a carpet, foam pad, or rolled up towel. Then begin lowering your torso back on an angle toward your heels, you should feel your quadriceps turn on. Keep your body in 1 straight line from knees to your head. Lower as far as you can go while maintaining your body in a straight line, then return to the starting position. To progress this exercise, consider holding a weight.
8. Rudolphs (Bird Dogs)
Bird Dogs are a great exercise focusing on core stability. You will begin this exercise in a quadruped position, on hands and knees. Then extend one arm out in front of you and extend the opposite leg behind you and then switch. Aim to keep your hips level and not to arch your back. To make this easier, begin with just raising your arm or leg and then progressing to both at the same time.
9. Superman Snow Angels
This exercise targets the middle and lower trapezius muscles, which are often weak due to the overworking of our upper trapezius, where many of us carry a lot of stress. For this exercise, you will be laying on your stomach and then lift your chest up just off the floor. Start with your hands lifted in line with your chest and then move them overhead as if making a snow angel and then return to the starting position.
10. Snowy Single Leg Deadlift
Single leg deadlifts are a great exercise that target your hamstrings and glutes while also challenging balance. To perform a single leg deadlift, you will stand on one leg with a slight bend in your standing leg and extend your other leg behind you. You will then hinge forward at your hips, letting your back leg lift off of the ground. Keep your back flat and hinge as far as you are able while keeping hips square and back flat. Ensure that your hips stay square to the direction you are facing and keep the toes of your lifted leg pointing toward the ground. To make this exercise more challenging, you can add weight in the opposite hand of the stance leg. A kettlebell or dumbbell works well for this.
11. Polar Bear Crawls
Bear planks are a great alternative to traditional planks and are a great total body exercise. To perform a bear plank, you will begin on hands and knees. You will leave your knees bent at ~90* and then push through your arms, your toes, and tighten through your core to hover your knees off the ground. To increase the stability challenge of this exercise, maintain this position while walking forward and backward or to the left and right while maintaining level hips and a flat back.
12. Snowy Slide Lunges
Slide lunges are a more dynamic exercise for working the lower body and specifically targeting the glutes. For this exercise, you will need a wood floor and a washcloth or dish towel. Place the dish towel under the foot in the back, this will be your moving leg. Your stationary leg will be in front, ensure toes are pointing forward. Slide your back leg back until your front leg is bent ~90 degrees and you are in a lunge position. Push through your front heel to slide your back leg in and come back to your starting position.
Click/tap here to learn more about the CU Sports Medicine and Performance Center.