Active Living, Balance, Down time, How-to, Student Life

Take an active break! : A small gym exercise routine

October is a terrifying time of year – and that has nothing to do with Halloween. I have never before been so overwhelmed with things that need doing/studying/writing. But we’ll get through this… right?

I’m kidding of course, we always do and we will again – that thought has always been helpful to me when I’m swamped and feeling hopeless.

When there’s so much to be done, it can be hard to squeeze in some physical activity. As many of us live in residences and apartment buildings with small exercise rooms, I thought I’d put together a simple small gym study break as a perfect addition to my self-care routine!

Try 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises for a fast, full body workout between textbooks!

Annette is shown in 3 stages of a pushup.

Pushups: Make sure your back is flat – your body should form a straight line from your head to your toes. Position your hands under your shoulders and disengage your elbows keeping them by your sides as you lower yourself to the floor. Now push back up! Don’t hesitate to modify this exercise while you’re building your strength by doing them from your knees. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Annette is shown in 3 stages of a bicep curl.

Bicep Curls: Hold a dumbbell as shown with your arm extended. Now, keeping your elbow where it is, lift the dumbbell, bringing it up toward your shoulder. Lower down and repeat. Do this on each side!

Annette is shown demonstrating 2 phases of the tricep kickback exercise.

 

Tricep Kickbacks: I used a bench but you can lean over just about anything for this exercise. Just make sure you’re keeping your back straight! Hold the dumbbell as shown and while keeping your elbow where it is, extend the dumbbell behind you as you straighten your arm. In a controlled fashion, disengage your elbow and return the weight to the starting position. Do this on both sides!

Annette is shown demonstrating two phases of the tricep dip exercise on a gym structure.

 

Tricep dips: Hold yourself up as shown with elbows locked. Slowly disengage your elbows and lower yourself down until your elbows are at about 90 degrees. Now push back up! If you don’t have one of these structures to use, you can elevate your hands on a chair and put your feet out on the floor in front of you – works just as well!

Annette is shown demonstrating three stages of a side lateral raise.

Side lateral raises: Hold the dumbbell as shown. Now lift your arm out to the side (it doesn’t have to be perfectly straight) until your wrist is at about shoulder level. Now lower down. Do this on both sides!

Annette is shown demonstrating three phases of a front lateral raise with a dumbbell.

Front lateral raises: Similar to above, this time raise your arm in front of you! Do this on both sides!

Annette demonstrates shoulder shrugs with a dumbbell in each hand.

Shoulder shrugs: It’s truly as easy as it looks! Hold a dumbbell in each hand and shrug your shoulders up (squeezing your shoulders blades together) and down. Don’t rush! Each complete shrug should take about one second (one Mississippi!).

Annette demonstrates a one arm row with a dumbbell while leaning over a bench.

Rows: Lean over a bench or other surface as shown. Start with your arm extended and a dumbbell in hand. Bend your elbow and lift the weight straight up so that your elbow stays close to your body and ends behind your shoulders. Now lower the weight to the starting position. Do this on both sides!

Annette demonstrates the romanian deadlift exercise with dumbbells.

Romanian deadlifts: This is my favourite leg exercise at the moment. Start standing upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend at the hips lowering the weights in a straight line to just below your knees (make sure your hips move back rather than having your knees ahead of your ankles). Now return to standing.

Annette demonstrates dumbbell step ups, she steps onto a bench with a dumbbell in each hand.

Dumbbell step ups: With a dumbbell in each hand, step up onto an elevated surface (keep your back upright) with one foot. As you push through your foot, bring the other leg up and squeeze your glutes. Step down, and now step up with the other foot.

Annette demonstrates an abdominal exercise, holding a hollow position belly up on the floor with her legs extended then lifting her legs higher off the floor, lowering down and bringing them in towards her chest.

“I-don’t-know-what-to-call-this”: Use your abdominal muscles to hold a hollow position on a mat. Your core should be engaged, this shouldn’t feel easy. Your legs and shoulder should be off the floor. Lift your legs higher, forming a “V” with your body then lower down to your starting position before bringing them in towards your chest similar to your position in a sit up. Now extend back out, lift, repeat.