Fit 5: Dorm room exercises
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 03:01
Fit Five is a column by health science major and USF cross-country runner Shannon Gordon. Drawing
from her education and experience, Gordon lists five ways to improve health and fitness.
Three weeks into the beginning of the new year, many students are probably already making excuses to slack off on fitness goals. New semester schedules may not allow as much gym time as planned and — as if our lives weren't busy enough — winter weather is coming and going so sporadically that we may struggle to leave our rooms.
Don't let yourself get stuck in a winter rut. Extra layers and richer foods can easily put a dent in your workout motivation. Even if the cold weather limits your trips to the gym, you can still stick to those resolutions with some effective exercises that can easily be done in a dorm room. Remember to stretch before and after exercising to prevent soreness and increase flexibility.
1. Standing Lunge
The standing lunge is an easy and effective way to strengthen glutes, the muscles in your butt. Step forward a considerable length with either foot, bend both knees until your front thigh is parallel to the ground, then rise. To prevent injury, the most important step of the lunge is to make sure your front knee is always behind your toes. Also, remember to avoid leaning forward. Keep your back straight and your shoulders back.
Try two sets of 15 lunges on each leg for best results. For added difficulty, try holding 10-to 15-pound weights in each hand.
2. Wall squat
The wall squat is an easy exercise that can be done anywhere to improve upper leg strength. Align your back against a wall and slide down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Remember to keep your knees behind your toes, and try to keep your hands off of your thighs. Try three sets of holding this position for one minute.
To advance this exercise, you can place any medium or large sized ball between your back and the wall. To include your calves, you can alternate raising your ankles a few inches off the ground while wall squatting.
3. Triceps Extension
The triceps extension is one of the best ways to quickly tone the upper arms because it works not only your triceps, but also your shoulders and chest. It can be performed seated, lying down or standing. Start by
positioning a single dumbbell over your head. If you do not own a dumbbell, substitute a heavy textbook. Keep both elbows positioned close to your ears, and lower your forearms behind your head.
Straighten your arms back into the starting position, remembering to keep your elbows in close to your head. To keep your elbows safe, do not lower your dumbbell or textbook any lower than your head. Try three sets of eight repetitions on this exercise.
4. Wall Pushup
The wall pushup is a great way to tone your chest and back. For limited floor space or weak arm strength, the wall pushup is a great place to begin strengthening your upper body.
Begin by facing a wall with your arms extended in front of you and your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height. Your body should be in a leaning position, your back should be straight and your neck should be in line with your spine.
The further your feet are from the wall, the harder the workout. Stay on your toes and bend your elbows until your nose nearly touches the wall. Try this exercise for three sets of 10 repetitions. To advance this
exercise even further, try alternating raising each foot slightly off the ground.
5. Alternating Leg Plank
The plank is one of the best core exercises because it works the abdominals, hips and lower back. A strong core is essential for a healthy body. Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows directly under your shoulders and place your feet directly behind you, hip-width apart.
Your body should form a straight line. The No. 1 rule of the plank is to make sure you keep your hips aligned with your spine. Do not raise your butt or let it sink to the ground. Try the alternating leg plank for one minute: Keep both legs on the ground for 15 seconds, alternate leg lifts for 15 seconds each and end with both feet on the ground again for the last 15 seconds. Do this twice with a small break in between. If you find yourself raising or dropping your hips, start with a simple plank for 45 seconds until you build up the strength to lift your legs.