It’s 6 1/2 weeks into the new year, and, for some, that “New Year, New You” resolution has started to falter – or fail altogether.

It’s something Michelle Holloway, director of personal training and health promotions for the YMCA of Southwest Michigan, sees often in January.

“They come in ready to do a boot camp, and they hit it way too hard,” she says. “Really, they need to come in and use lighter weights with more repetition – allow their body, their nervous system, to get used to what they are doing. And then slowly start to progress after four to six weeks.

“The biggest thing is,” she says, “they come in, they kill themselves for like two hours, and they can’t walk the next day. By the end of the week, they’re like, ‘I’m done.’”

So, to help those who started the year by hitting it too hard, or who simply need a jolt to get things going, here are 10 simple exercises you can do at home or at the gym.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Squats

How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and chest up. Sit back and down, like you’re sitting in a chair, until thighs are parallel to the floor. Bend your upper body slightly forward as you descend, but keep your spine straight. Keep your weight on your heels, and push up through your heels to return upright. Moving your feet closer together will work your quadriceps more; feet wider will work the inner thighs and butt more.

Alternatives: Beginners can practice by sitting in a chair and standing up without using arm rests for support. For the more advanced, add a pair of dumbbells for increased difficulty.

Muscles worked: Glutes (buttocks), quads and hamstrings.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Pushups

How to do it: Hands and knees – Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Traditional – Get on the floor on your hands and toes. For both, place you hands under your shoulders with your fingers facing forward. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the ground. Pause, and return. Keep your neck aligned with your spine – avoid dropping head.

Alternatives: Instead of getting on the floor, do your pushups against a wall by placing your palms against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.

Muscles worked: Shoulders, chest and back.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Dips

How to do it: Sit on a secured bench or chair. Place your hands next to your hips with fingers facing forward and hanging over the edge of the bench. Slide your butt off the bench with your legs bent and your feet in front of you. Bend at the elbow to lower to the floor until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Pause, then press through your palms to return. Keep your back close to the bench, and your shoulders down throughout.

Alternatives: For the more advanced, extend your feet outward to increase the intensity.

Muscles worked: Chest and triceps.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Planks

How to do it: Upright plank – Stand in front of a bench or counter. While on the balls of your feet, lean forward onto the bench with arms extended. Floor plank – Get on the floor on your hands and feet in a pushup-like position with hands under your shoulders and arms extended (or on forearms and feet if you have wrist issues). Keep your body straight, and hold position for 30-60 seconds.

Alternative: To work the thighs, walk your toes in and push your heels back. For increased difficulty, raise one leg, or one arm, or one of each. Or tap your hands.

Muscles worked: Core (abdominals and back).


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Jumping jacks

How to do it: Stand straight with your knees shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Jumping, spread your legs outward and throw your arms overhead, and return. Repeat.

Muscles worked: Heart (cardio), hips, shoulders and core.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Lunges

How to do it: Take a big step forward and strike the floor with your whole foot. Bend your front knee, and lower your body toward the floor until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Push up through your front foot, and return. Repeat process with other leg. In the lunge position, be sure to keep your knee directly above your foot. Keep your upper body straight throughout. Lean forward more for an increased glute workout.

Muscles worked: Legs, glutes, hips and core.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Bicep curls

How to do it: Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Holding dumbbells in each hand, tuck your elbows in close to body. Starting with your hands at chest level, slowly lower your hands until elbows straighten, and return. Keep your back straight.

Alternative: Don’t have weights? Use water-filled bottles or soup cans.

Muscles worked: Biceps.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Tricep kickbacks

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and one foot slightly forward. Holding dumbbells in each hand, lean forward slightly, keeping your back straight. Starting with your hands at hips and elbows close to body, slowly extend your arms backward, and return.

Muscles worked: Triceps.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Bent arm lateral raise

How to do it: Stand straight with you feet shoulder-width apart. Holding dumbbells in each hand, bend your elbows at 90 degrees. Raise your elbows and dumbbells up and out to the side. Pause at shoulder height (no higher), then return.

Muscles worked: Shoulders.


Photo by Andy Steinke / HP staff
Bridges

How to do it: Lay on the floor (or couch or bed) on your back. With arms at your sides and feet on the floor, bend at your knees and raise your toes. Push your heels into the ground, and lift your butt off the floor. Hold for 10-30 seconds, and return. Keeps abs engaged to support your back.

Alternative: For the more advanced, try doing it on just one leg.

Muscles worked: Hips, back and glutes.

This article was orginally written on 2/14/18 by Andy Steinke for the Herald Palladium and can be found here.