Photoshop isn’t the only way to see your body transform into a lean, fit, fat-burning machine. For a fitness novice, the gym can be an intimidating place, and the idea of committing to a 45-minute workout DVD can seem overwhelming. If you’re ready to get moving, but don’t know where to start, follow these four easy moves.
Nothing symbolizes fitness quite like the simple push-up. Yes, it’s simple, but it works. It tests your entire body by engaging every part of it — arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. Doing them is the easiest, fastest and most effective way to get fit. They are the gold standard. You may need to start with a modified push-up (on your knees), but eventually, you’ll build up to the full push-up.
How to do a full push-up: Make your entire body straight, like a plank, with your toes and the balls of your feet on the mat, and hands directly under your chest. Using your arms, go down to the count of 4, and back up to the count of 4. Do 12-15 reps.
#2 The plié squat: This version of the squat focuses on the inner thighs, a problem area for many women, especially.
How to do a plié Squat: Stand with feet wider than hip distance apart. Turn toes out and heels in. Slowly bring your body weight back onto your heels as you bend your knees out toward your toes, to the count of 4, and squat down while pushing your butt out. For both squats, never tuck your tailbone in. That puts too much stress on knees.
#3 The plank: This is an incredibly hard, but Zen-like, position that is one of the most effective exercises you can do, because it works your entire body.
How to do a Plank: Hold your body in a “plank” position, simulating the “up” part of a push-up, but stay there, holding perfectly still, for 30-60 seconds. Keep your abs tight and your back flat the entire time. Try to lengthen your whole body, reaching back through your heels and forward through the top of your head. Your heart will be pounding, your arms will be shaking, but try to make it to 60 seconds (or more).
#4 The burpee: Muscle confusion is one of those terms that is being thrown around a lot in the fitness world. When it really means to just keep your body from being bored by doing different exercises in a short amount of time. The burpee exercise is the best of both worlds. It’s a push-up, a plank, and a jumping jack all wrapped into one.
How to do a burpee: Start by standing shoulder width apart, then jump down into a squat, then pump your legs out behind you (you should end up in push up position), then do one push up, then go back into squatting position, then jump up high with both arms outstretched towards the sky. Sound like a lot, but you can do it. You should end up in the same standing position as you started.
Start with one set of 10 every day, and then build up to three sets (or more) with a 15-second “breather” in between each set. Not only will you be strengthening your muscles, but you’ll be getting a solid cardio workout, as well.