If you have a set of light-weight dumbbells and a towel at home, then you have everything you need to get a great workout. If you don’t have dumbbells, you can find inexpensive starter kits with weights ranging from 2-12 lbs at athletic stores or online. You can even substitute with a 1 or 2 liter bottle filled with water. Here are 6 exercise moves that will work your body from top to bottom.
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What it works: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads, Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps, Core
How to do it: Begin standing while holding a weight at your chest, both hands grasping the bell of the weight and elbows bent. On an inhale, sit back into a squat position while simultaneously extending your arms straight out in front of you. As you exhale, extend the legs to return to standing while bending your elbows to bring the weight back in towards your chest. Complete 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. By the last repetition you should have trouble completing one more.
Safety tip: Use your rear shoulder girdle to keep your shoulder blades retracted throughout the exercise.
Lateral Lunge Towel Slide
What it works: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Adductors
How to do it: Begin standing with your right foot on the towel and your body facing forward. Squat back on the left leg while sliding the right leg out sideways. Your weight is on the left leg. To return to standing, press the right foot into the floor to create friction as you extend the left leg and slide the right foot back to center. Complete 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions on each side.
Safety tip: Keep both hips square to your front throughout the exercise to resist torquing at the lumbar spine.
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Reverse Lunge Towel Slide
What it works: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps
How to do it: Begin facing forward with your weight primarily on your left leg and your right foot on the towel. Sit into a squat with your left leg, hinging the hips back and bending 90 degrees at the knee. Press your right foot into the floor as you push backwards, using the towel to slide the right leg straight back with a bend in the knee. Extend through the left leg and slide the right foot forward returning to your start position. Complete 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions on each leg.
Safety tip: Maintain constant pressure into the floor with your right foot to avoid moving past a safe range of motion.
What it works: Deltoids, Triceps
How to do it: Begin holding a weight in each hand with elbows bent and palms facing away from you at chest level. As you exhale, press both hands straight up and slightly in front of you. Focus on keeping your shoulder blades pulling downwards and isolating your deltoids and triceps. As you exhale, return to your start positions. Complete 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.
Safety tip: Extend your arms either in line with your ears or slightly in front of your face. Avoid allowing the arms to drift behind your head.
What it works: Rear Deltoid, Rhomboids, Mid Traps
How to do it: Begin in an athletic stance and flat back, hinging at the hips and keeping your chest lifted to maintain a long back. Holding a weight in each hand, allow your arms to hand long at your sides, elbows slightly bent with the weights nearly touching at the center. On an exhale, squeeze your shoulder blades together to lift the arms, bringing the weights upwards and outwards to the side. Maintain the same slight bend in your elbows the entire time.
Safety tip: Focus on pulling your shoulders back and opening your chest as you retract your shoulder blades.
What it works: Triceps
How to do it: Begin in an athletic stance and flat back, hinging at the hips and keeping your chest lifted to maintain a long back. Holding a weight in your left hand keep your left elbow bent and tight against the side of your body. On an exhale extend you arm straight back to work the triceps. On a inhale return to your start position.
Safety tip: Focus on keeping your chest lifted and avoid rounding through the spine.
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Jennifer Lutz is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor. Every other Wednesday she writes “KnowMore Moves,” a column that focuses on a different piece of fitness equipment and shows you how to safely do 3 to 5 moves that will get you the results you want. She trains private clients around New York City and at Equinox Fitness. It’s her goal to help women live healthier, happier lives. Follow her on Twitter at @JLutzFitness.