The 6 Stretches Everyone Who Sits at a Desk Should Be Doing

The 6 Stretches Everyone Who Sits at a Desk Should Be Doing

If you run| bike| or are deskbound all day| your hamstrings could use some extra love and length. It not only feels good to stretch this commonly tight area| but hamstring flexibility is also important for the health of your back| hips| and knees. Here are six easy and essential stretches that target the backs of your legs. To avoid injury| it’s best to do them at the end of a workout| when the muscles are warm.

| Tipover Tuck Hamstring Stretch

This stretch is good for your hamstrings and also loosens tight shoulders.

  • Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your back. Keeping your legs straight| bend at the hips| tucking your chin| and bringing your hands over your head.
  • Relax the back of your neck and if the stretch is too intense| release your hands| placing them on the backs of your thighs| and soften your knees. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly roll up to standing.

| Scissor Hamstring Stretch

Easy to do anywhere and safe for injured backs| this hamstring stretch is great if you’re really tight.

  • Stand with your feet together. Step your right foot back about two feet and bend forward from your hip joint| keeping your back and both legs straight. After holding for 30 seconds| switch sides.

| Standing Hamstring Stretch

If the previous stretch isn’t deep enough for you then try this variation. It’s perfect for doing on a bench after a run in the park.

  • Prop your left heel up on a surface that is a little lower than your hip such as a chair or bench. Flex your foot.
  • To increase the stretch bend forward toward your flexed foot| by creasing at your hips. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.

| Modified Hurdler Stretch

This basic stretch is perfect for targeting one leg at a time| and is great for those with really tight hamstrings.

  • Sit on the floor and straighten your left leg in front of you. Bend the right knee| placing the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
  • Fold over your left leg| keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds| then switch legs.

| Forward Bend With Rounded Back

This stretch targets both hamstrings as well as the lower back.

  • Sit on the floor| extending both legs straight out in front of you| legs together.
  • Fold your torso over your thighs| gently rounding the back but keeping the legs straight. Hold here for 30 seconds and then sit up.

| Reclined Hamstring Stretch

Here’s a relaxing way to stretch one hamstring at a time.

  • Lie on your back. Raise your left leg as high as you can keeping your pelvis flat on the ground. Hold your lower thigh and encourage the leg to move toward your head. Flex your foot to stretch your calf too.
  • To deepen the stretch| place a yoga strap or towel on the ball of your foot and use your hands to pull the strap toward you. After 30 seconds| switch legs.

You Can Have a Stronger, Flatter Belly Using This 1 Move

Let’s face it: getting a stronger, leaner core only comes from putting the time in at the gym and eating right. But what if you could put in the effort and it wasn’t any harder than sucking in your gut? Got your attention? We thought so! It’s time to try out the stomach vacuum.

First things first: what is a stomach vacuum? Simply put, it’s the act of pulling in your abdominal muscles in very much the same way as you do when you suck in your tummy to zip up your favorite jeans. But before you think all you have to do is suck in your gut, think again. This isn’t just about breathing in and allowing your tummy to come inward. Rather, this is about contracting your abdominal muscles to actively bring your belly toward your spine.

Your best bet for results is to pull your abs inward and brace them as though you’re about to be punched. But you can also keep your abs drawn in while doing a crunch, working all the layers of your abs simultaneously with the deep abs (transversus) pulling the abdomen in and then superficial muscles (rectus) contracting to perform the crunch.

According to certified personal trainer Brian Pankau, “The vacuum is an isometric exercise that isolates the muscles that lie underneath the external abs and obliques, which are often neglected. Increasing the intensity placed on these underlying muscles could assist a person with flattening their stomach and defining their abs and obliques better. Another benefit is increasing maximum output during power lifts.”

If you want science to help you get in the gym and get the job done, then look no further than the research published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning and the Archives of Physical Medical Rehabilitation. Both outline how the abs are harnessed by such a maneuver. They also make note of the fact that this sort of exercise helps strengthen your back and alleviates lower back pain. Sounds like a win-win to us.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography/Ericka McConnell

You Can Have a Stronger, Flatter Belly Using This 1 Move

Let’s face it: getting a stronger| leaner core only comes from putting the time in at the gym and eating right. But what if you could put in the effort and it wasn’t any harder than sucking in your gut? Got your attention? We thought so! It’s time to try out the stomach vacuum.

First things first: what is a stomach vacuum? Simply put| it’s the act of pulling in your abdominal muscles in very much the same way as you do when you suck in your tummy to zip up your favorite jeans. But before you think all you have to do is suck in your gut| think again. This isn’t just about breathing in and allowing your tummy to come inward. Rather| this is about contracting your abdominal muscles to actively bring your belly toward your spine.

Your best bet for results is to pull your abs inward and brace them as though you’re about to be punched. But you can also keep your abs drawn in while doing a crunch| working all the layers of your abs simultaneously with the deep abs (transversus) pulling the abdomen in and then superficial muscles (rectus) contracting to perform the crunch.

According to certified personal trainer Brian Pankau| “The vacuum is an isometric exercise that isolates the muscles that lie underneath the external abs and obliques| which are often neglected. Increasing the intensity placed on these underlying muscles could assist a person with flattening their stomach and defining their abs and obliques better. Another benefit is increasing maximum output during power lifts.”

If you want science to help you get in the gym and get the job done| then look no further than the research published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning and the Archives of Physical Medical Rehabilitation. Both outline how the abs are harnessed by such a maneuver. They also make note of the fact that this sort of exercise helps strengthen your back and alleviates lower back pain. Sounds like a win-win to us.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography/Ericka McConnell

A Butt-Toning, Calorie-Burning Interval Workout

It’s time to combine some booty-toning hills with some calorie-torching cardio to work your backside. Working the incline on the treadmill targets your hamstring and glutes! This calorie-torching workout combines bursts of running with quick hilly walking as you play with speed and incline. It moves so quickly that there is no chance for you to get bored.

Feel free to adjust the incline and speed so this workout meets your level of fitness. Not into running? Try this elliptical workout that targets the backs of the legs, too. No access to machines? Take a hilly walk!

Click here for an image-free, printable version to take to the gym.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

A Butt-Toning, Calorie-Burning Interval Workout

It’s time to combine some booty-toning hills with some calorie-torching cardio to work your backside. Working the incline on the treadmill targets your hamstring and glutes! This calorie-torching workout combines bursts of running with quick hilly walking as you play with speed and incline. It moves so quickly that there is no chance for you to get bored.

Feel free to adjust the incline and speed so this workout meets your level of fitness. Not into running? Try this elliptical workout that targets the backs of the legs| too. No access to machines? Take a hilly walk!

Click here for an image-free| printable version to take to the gym.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

8 Stretches Your Tight Hips Are Begging For

8 Stretches Your Tight Hips Are Begging For

Tight hips seem to be a common problem for almost everybody u2014 from runners to cyclists, from deskbound bloggers to dancers. Give this area a little extra love with this sequence of eight hip-opening stretches to increase your flexibility, reduce discomfort, and prevent injury. Try the series in the order listed here, or pick your favorites to incorporate into your workout routine.

Related:

5 Easy Hamstring Stretches

All the Stretches You Need to Know in One Place

The Stretches Your Lower Back Craves

| Happy Baby

This calming hip opener also stretches your lower back.

  • Begin lying flat on your back. Bend both knees, and hold the outside edges of your flexed feet with your hands. Keep your arms on the outsides of your legs.
  • Gently use your upper-body strength to equally press both knees to the floor below your armpits. Try not to tense your shoulders or chest, but keep everything relaxed.
  • Stay here for five deep breaths.

| Extended Wide Squat

This relaxing stretch targets both hips at once while opening up your lower back.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees, and lower your hips down toward the ground. If your heels don’t touch the ground, roll up a towel or the back of your mat, and place it under your heels for support.
  • Bring your palms together at your heart center, and firmly press your elbows against the inside of your knees. This will help to open your hips even further.
  • After five breaths, release the hands to the floor and walk them away from your feet to increase the stretch in the hips and lower back. Hold for another five breaths.

| Open Lizard

The hip flexors, the muscles at the front of the hip, can become extremely tight just from sitting. This intense stretch targets that area as well as the outer hips.

  • Come into a lunge position with your right knee forward. Lower your left knee to the floor, and rest your hands on the ground under your shoulders.
  • Slowly lower your right knee to the right so you’re resting on the outside of your right flexed foot. Keep your arms straight, pressing your chest forward to increase the stretch.
  • Hold like this for five breaths, and then repeat on the left side.

| Wide-Legged Split

To stretch your hips, hamstrings, and inner thighs, do a Wide-Legged Split.

  • From Wide Squat, place your hands on the floor in front of you and inch your feet apart, making sure to keep your heels wider than your toes. Keep the soles of your feet flat on the ground at all times to protect your knees.
  • As your hips get lower, you can prop yourself up with your forearms, and then move down to your shoulders (as shown). If your shoulders are on the ground, turn your head to the side, and rest your cheek on the ground so you don’t bruise your chin.
  • Stay here for five deep breaths, then walk your feet back together. If this pose is a bit more stretch than you can muster, try the seated straddle stretch.

| Butterfly

Stretch both hips at the same time with Butterfly pose.

  • Sit on the ground, bend both knees, and bring your feet together. Using your hands, open your feet up like a book. Use your leg muscles to press your knees down toward the floor.
  • Lengthen your spine, drawing your belly button inward. Relax your shoulders, and gaze either in front of you or toward your feet. Stay here for five breaths, and then slowly fold forward, drawing your torso toward your legs. Remember to try to keep your spine straight.
  • Rest your hands on your feet, pressing your knees down with your arms, or if you want more of a stretch, extend your arms out in front of you. Stay here for another five breaths.

| Head to Knee

A popular stretch for runners, Head to Knee targets the hips and hamstrings while giving the back a nice stretch too.

  • Sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee, and pull the sole of your foot against your left inner thigh.
  • Sitting with a tall spine, reach both hands to your left foot, and stack your torso on top of your left thigh. If you can’t reach your hands to your foot, rest your hands on your shin or knee. Try not to round your back.
  • Stay here for at least five breaths, relaxing your shoulders away from your ears. Then do the other side.

| Pigeon

A basic yoga pose, Pigeon is one of the most effective hip openers because you can focus on one hip at a time.

  • Sit with your right knee bent and your left leg extended behind you. Pull the right heel in toward your left hip, or if your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins to open up toward the ceiling, draw your right foot back in toward your body.
  • Stay here with your hands resting on your right thigh or your hips, or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee. Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least five breaths.
  • Repeat this pose with the left knee bent.

| Double Pigeon

Double Pigeon offers a very intense stretch for your deep glutes.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left knee, and place your knee, shin, and foot on the floor so they’re parallel with your pelvis. Bend your right knee, and place it on top so your knees, shins, and ankles are stacked. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you gaze down and see that your legs make a little triangle.
  • You may find your top knee to be high up toward the ceiling. It’s OK, it just means that your hips are tight, so just stay where you are and breathe.
  • To make this pose more intense, place your hands in front of your shins and walk them out as far as you can, folding your chest toward your legs.
  • Stay here for five breaths, slowly release, and then switch legs so your left knee is on top.

All-Time-Best Inner-Thigh Exercises

All-Time-Best Inner-Thigh Exercises

A toned inner thigh is a healthy inner thigh u2014 attractive and strong. Show yours some love with these 18 inner-thigh exercises that will keep you feeling confident in those leggings and skinny jeans once Winter comes along.

| Ball Leg Lifts

Using an exercise ball when strength training is a great way to add a little bit more challenge to basic exercises. Since you have to work hard to keep the ball in place| you end up using more muscle groups. This exercise will tone your thighs| especially your inner thighs| and also your core.

  • Lie on your side on the floor with your arms crossed in front of your body. If this is uncomfortable| bend your bottom elbow and rest your head on your hand.
  • Place a large exercise ball in between your feet| and slowly lift the ball up toward the ceiling using only your hips and butt. Return to the start position. This counts as one repetition.
  • Complete three sets of 15 reps.

| Glider Side Lunge

This exercise works the legs and glutes| but as you slide your leg back to center| your inner thigh does all the work. You need one of those discs like the Valslide| but if you don’t have one| just use the lid of a plastic container and do this move on a carpet. Or wear socks and try it on a wood floor.

  • Stand with your feet a few inches apart| with your right foot on the plastic lid. Make a fist with one hand and cup your other hand over it. Keep your hands in front of your chest throughout the exercise to help you stay balanced.
  • Put weight into your left leg| and as you slowly bend your left knee and squat down| slide your right foot out to the side. Then as you slowly straighten your leg| slide the right foot back in. Most of your weight remains in the leg that’s not moving.
  • Complete three sets of 10 reps with each leg.

| Sumo Squat With Side-Arm Raises

Celeb trainers David Kirsch| Jackie Warner| and Teddy Bass all recommend the sumo squat (also known by the name pliu00e9 squat) for creating shapely legs. Focus on the inner thigh when doing this move| not the quad.

  • Stand with legs wide and toes pointed outward slightly. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands with your arms straight and your palms facing down.
  • Bend your knees until your knees are over your ankles while raising your arms to just below shoulder height. Arms should be in line with your legs u2014 you should see the weights in your peripheral vision.
  • Straighten your legs and lower your arms simultaneously.
  • Complete three sets of 15 reps.

“|”id”:26990667|”type”:”image”|”thumbnail”:”Image Source: POPSUGAR Studios

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“”}|{“”image””:”” Pilates Inner-Thigh Leg Lifts

This exercise might remind you of Jane Fonda’s workout videos from the ’80s| but it’s been a staple of the Pilates mat repertoire for decades. Since the knee is straight| you work all the muscles of the inner-thigh group.

  • Lying on your side| lengthen your bottom leg and cross your top leg over it. Rest either your knee or foot on the floor. Prop your head up with your hand| or rest your head on your arm.
  • As you exhale| lift your bottom leg up| and inhale as you lower it back down. Your torso should stay still while you do this.
  • Do 10 reps| then repeat on the other side.
  • Watch a video on how to do the side-lying leg lift here.

| Gate Swings With Cross

This deep inner-thigh stretch tones your glutes| quads| and both your outer and inner thighs| and it also gets your heart rate up! Check out this GIF demonstrating this move in action.

  • Start with your feet in a wide| second-position stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Bend your knees and lower into a squat| using your hands to help push your knees wide apart to deepen the inner-thigh stretch.
  • Push off your knees to get leverage| and jump your right leg in front of your left| landing in a standing cross-legged stance.
  • Immediately jump your legs back out to a wide squat with your hands at your knees.
  • Push off your knees and jump your legs together| crossing your left leg in front of your right.
  • Repeat as many times as possible for at least 40 seconds.

| Narrow Squat With Overhead Press

Standing with a much narrower stance while you squat targets the inner thigh| inner quad| and inner hamstring. There is no reason not to multitask on this move u2014 so work your arms too. Here’s how:

  • Begin standing with your legs together| arms raised to shoulder height with elbows bent| holding weights by your ears.
  • Squat toward the floor by bending your knees and reaching your bum backward| as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep your legs squeezing together. Focus your weight into your heels. While squatting| raise your arms overhead into a parallel position.
  • Return to starting position by pressing through your heels while bending your elbows to lower the weights back to shoulder level.
  • Do 15 reps for one set. Do three sets.

| Scissor Jacks

This dynamic move tones your arms and legs while getting your heart rate up; here’s a GIF demonstrating how.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart| and extend your arms straight out to either side with palms facing down. This is the starting position.
  • Jump| and cross your right arm over your left and your right foot over your left. Jump back to the starting position| then cross with the opposite arm and foot. This counts as one rep.
  • Continue alternating sides and repeating this movement until you complete 25 reps. Be sure to keep up the pace and not allow too much time for recovery between jumps; this way you’ll be sure to keep up your heart rate and engage your whole body.

| Side Lunge

The side lunge works the muscle on the side of the pelvis as well as the inner thighs.

  • Holding a five- to 10-pound weight in your left hand| stand with your feet and knees together| hands on your hips.
  • Take a large step with your right foot to the right side| and lunge toward the floor.
  • Make sure your right knee does not extend past your toes| and keep your left leg relatively straight.
  • Push off through your right foot to return to the start to complete one side lunge.
  • Do three sets of 10 on each side.

| Bridge With Squeeze

Adding an inner-thigh squeeze to your basic bridge will tone your inner thighs.

  • Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart. Place a pillow| a ball| or a toning ring between your knees.
  • Push up into a bridge. Keep your ribs aligned with your pelvis.
  • Without raising or lower your pelvis| slowly squeeze your pillow 20 times. Lower the pelvis and bring your knees to your chest to round and relax your back. Then repeat twice for a total of three sets.

“”|””id””:26990665|””type””:””image””|””thumbnail””:””Image Source: POPSUGAR Studios

“”|””large_link””:”” Chair Pose

You’ll feel the thigh burn in this yoga-inspired Fierce Pose exercise.

  • Stand with your legs together| and soften your knees. Reach your arms overhead| and touch your palms together as you fold your chest down toward your knees.
  • Hold this position as you drop your tailbone down in a small pulsing motion 10 to 15 times.
  • Keep your legs squeezed together for support.
  • Then cross your left elbow over your right thigh| and hold here for five to 10 seconds. Rise up back to center| and repeat on the left side.

For a more advanced version| try the relevu00e9:

  • While staying in Fierce Pose| lift your heels off of the ground and keep your tailbone down.
  • Pulse your seat toward your calves 10 to 15 times| and hold the last pulse for five seconds to finish.
  • When you end in Chair position| make sure your back stays flat| and think about framing your ears with your arms to keep them lifted for a beautiful finish.

| Elbow Plank With Leg Lift

Adding a leg lift to your side plank tones the outer thigh while challenging your core. The trick to keeping the pelvis high as you lift your top leg is to reach the inner thigh of your bottom leg toward the ceiling.

  • Place your right elbow on the ground. Extend both legs out so that your body is in one straight line and you’re balancing on the outside edge of your right foot. Flex both feet if you can| and rest your left hand on your upper hip.
  • Keeping your spine lengthened and your abs engaged| lift your left leg up just higher than your top hip. Then slowly lower it back to your bottom leg.
  • Keep your waist up and lifted| and don’t sink into your bottom shoulder.
  • Do three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.

| Side Lunge to Curtsy

If lunges are new to you| don’t add dumbbells to this exercise until you are comfortable with the leg positions.

  • Holding a five- to 10-pound weight in your right hand| side lunge to the left| bringing your right hand to your right foot. Lower your butt as much as possible while sinking back into your heels. Keep your toes pointed forward and your left knee bent to no more than 90 degrees.
  • Push off gently with your left foot| and come into a curtsy position with your left leg crossing behind your right as you press your weight overhead. Keep your hips square and your curtsy tight. Both feet should be pointed forward. This completes one rep.
  • Repeat by stepping immediately into a side lunge from the curtsy.
  • Once you have completed 15 reps| switch sides. Do three sets total.

| Leg Swings

A great warmup move| this also works the inner thighs.

  • Stand with the feet together| arms out wide. Raise your right leg out to the side| balancing on your left foot.
  • Swing the right leg in front of the left| and then swing it back out to the side.
  • Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps| and then repeat with the left leg.

| Ball Pass

Although this move targets your abs| squeezing a ball between your legs also works your inner thighs. Here’s a video demonstrating this effective move.

  • Lie on your back| holding the ball with straight arms lifted toward the ceiling; raise your legs toward the ceiling too.
  • Keep your lower back pressed into the floor as you lower the ball above your head and your legs toward the floor.
  • Return to starting position| and switch the ball so you’re holding it between your feet.
  • Lower your feet to the floor| reaching your arms overhead. Return to starting position.
  • This counts as one rep. Complete two sets of 10 reps.

| Towel Runs

These two variations will target abs and legs| including your inner thighs.

  • First| take two small towels and fold them into squares. Place on a slick surface like a wooden floor. Step on them with the balls of your feet.
  • Place your hands on the ground and drive your right leg back. Quickly switch so your right leg is in front and your left leg is back (like you are doing mountain climbers).
  • Do eight reps on each leg.

For even more inner-thigh targeting| do this variation:

  • In a low squat position on the towels| turn your right knee out so it is pointing in a diagonal.
  • Drive your left knee back toward a corner so it is diagonal from your right knee.
  • Quickly switch legs and repeat for a total of eight reps per leg.

Watch how to do towel runs and one more inner-thigh exercise in this towel workout video!

| Crossover Lunge With Medicine Ball

Use this exercise to tone the lower glutes as well as the inner thighs. Adding arm work makes this a time-saving full-body move.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart| holding a medicine ball.
  • Take a large step diagonally forward with your left foot| planting it at the 11 o’clock position. Sink down until your thighs form right angles. Keep the medicine ball stable.
  • Extend your legs| then lift your left knee and bring it in toward your chest. Step back with your left leg| this time lunging behind your torso and stepping back to the 8 o’clock position as you sink down into the reverse lunge. This completes one rep. Complete your set| then switch sides.
  • A set equals 15 to 20 reps on each leg. Do two sets.

| 10-Minute Inner-Thigh Workout

Whatever you’re wearing| toned inner thighs will help you rock your look. Check out this 10-minute workout that focuses on toning and tightening the inner thighs.

| Tone the Inner Thighs With These 5 Must-Do Moves

Watch this video to learn five simple inner-thigh moves to keep this often overlooked area strong and trim. Plus| the only prop you need is a pillow.

Tone Your Arms and Core With This 3-Minute Plank Workout

Tone Your Arms and Core With This 3-Minute Plank Workout

No weights? No problem. Tone your abs and core with one single bodyweight move u2014 the plank. These five variations will get your heart pumping and your arms and core burning. It only takes three minutes, so if you want a longer workout, repeat this circuit two or three times.

| Frogger

  • Begin in plank position with straight arms and legs.
  • Gently hop the feet forward behind the hands. Then hop the feet back to plank position. This counts as one rep.
  • Complete as many reps as you can for 30 seconds.

| Superwoman Plank

  • Come into plank position.
  • Bend the elbows, and lower the belly to the floor. Take a lift by actively bending the elbows behind you, squeezing the shoulder blades together and raising the legs as high as you can.
  • Plant the palms on the floor underneath the shoulders, and press back up to plank. This counts as one rep.
  • Repeat for 30 seconds.

| Side Plank Crunch

  • Lower into a side elbow plank with your left elbow down and your right hand behind your head.
  • Keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted, bring your right leg up toward your shoulder to lightly tap your right elbow.
  • Lengthen your right leg back to the starting position to complete one rep.
  • Do as many reps as you can for 30 seconds. Then switch sides for another 30 seconds.

| Plank With Creepy Crawler

  • Come into plank position.
  • Bring your right knee to your right elbow, and then return the right leg back to plank position.
  • Repeat this action on the left side to complete one rep.
  • Continue alternating for as many reps as you can for 30 seconds.

| Dolphin Dive

  • Come into Quarter Dog with the forearms parallel. Press your hips and shoulders back toward your feet, lengthening through your spine. Walk your toes away from you a couple inches.
  • With fingers spread wide, dive forward, lowering the chin so it’s barely touching the floor in front of the fingertips. The shoulders should hover over the wrists, and the elbows should remain in line with the middle fingers.
  • Press back to Quarter Dog to complete one rep.
  • Do as many reps as you can for 30 seconds.

The At-Home Workout That Works Your Entire Body in 20 Minutes

The At-Home Workout That Works Your Entire Body in 20 Minutes

This quick| full-body workout will help you stay fit no matter where you are. With no equipment needed to work your entire body| there really are no excuses. Plus| it’s short! This workout| including warmup and cooldown| takes between 20 and 30 minutes. It all depends on how much rest time you take between circuits.

Directions: Warm up with five minutes of light cardio| then perform this five-exercise circuit three times. Cool down with three minutes of stretching.

| Goblet Squat

Reps: 15

  • Start standing with your feet wider than shoulder width. With your back slightly arched| push your hips back| bend your knees| and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your elbows touch your knees.
  • With your weight focused in your heels| push yourself up to the starting position.

| Push-Up

Reps: 12

  • Come into plank position with your arms and legs straight| shoulders above the wrists.
  • Bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your chest toward the ground. Stop as soon as your shoulders are in line with your elbows. Exhale feels the abs pull to the spine to help you straighten your arms. This counts as one rep.
  • If this is too difficult| do this exercise with your knees on the floor.

| Side Bridge

Reps: 12 each side

  • Start lying on your left side with your weight on your elbow. Your legs are almost straight and your feet stacked with the right on top. Inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale| pull your abs to your spine| and lift your pelvis off the floor| coming into a side elbow-plank. Really lift your bottom waist up. Pull your shoulder blade down your back so your shoulder stays away from your ear (this will work your lat| too).
  • Hold for three seconds. Lower your pelvis back to the floor slowly and with control to complete one rep.

| Gate Swing

Resp: 15

  • Start with your feet in a wide| second-position stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Bend your knees and lower into a squat| using your hands to help push your knees wide apart to deepen the inner-thigh stretch.
  • Push off your knees to get leverage| and jump your feet together to complete one rep.

| Frog Crunch

Reps: 15

  • Start on your back with your hands behind your head and your elbows wide. Keeping your heels together and toes pointed out| bring your knees to touch your elbows as you perform a crunch bringing your upper back and head off the floor.
  • Keeping your abs engaged and heels together| lengthen your legs away from your center as you lower your head to the floor.
  • Draw your legs back into the frog position to complete one full rep. Make sure to pull your navel to your spine throughout this exercise.

Running Helped Me Get My Groove Back After My Divorce

Divorce is not exactly a walk in the park. If you thought planning your wedding and getting your bridesmaids ready for that walk down the aisle was tough| it doesn’t hold a candle to splitting apart your life| and sometimes a child’s life| like divorce does. Even the easiest divorce can be unnerving. When my soon-to-be ex-husband and I decided to separate| the world spun. How was I going to care for my child as a single parent? At the time| I was job hunting for a full-time position while working part-time. I wondered if I would be able to provide for my daughter financially. I wondered how she would cope. I wondered what the future would bring. Divorce brings upon many new changes and “what if” scenarios. I needed to find a way to clear my head when the noise inside of my brain and heart became too loud.

Let me not forget to mention that when my marriage started to crumble| my daughter was two years old. We didn’t make the clean cut until almost a year later. Still| I had a young child and had just been pregnant not so long ago. I was back to my pre-baby weight and slimmer than before| but I had gotten lazy at the gym. I did my routine but never pushed myself and simply went through the motions. My workout was an unispired habit| like having a morning cup of tea. The thrill of fitness was gone. And the thrill of fitness wasn’t the only thing that had “left the building.” As the marriage decayed| so did the sex life. Most of the time I felt invisible and as if I had no sex appeal. This was unusual; I had been very confident of my sex appeal before marriage| albeit a little self critical. But at the point in which we said| “It’s over|” I didn’t feel like a woman and a mom ¡ª just a mom without any feminine allure. I wanted to feel excited again. I wanted to be out in the world| not only as a mom but also a woman.

That’s when running walked in. (Did I just say that?)

As a kid| I was coordinated but I wasn’t the first kid you picked for dodgeball. I was able to move and get by| but I never considered myself athletic until I got older. I still hesitate to say athletic and instead would say “fit.” Running was never a passion of mine. I figured I could get by walking and using the elliptical machine| but now I wanted more from my workout. I wanted more from life. I didn’t want the status quo| but instead| I wanted the best for myself and my daughter. I wanted happiness.

It started on a treadmill and then when I went out with someone for the first time after my separation| unnerved about being in the dating world again| I hit the pavement outdoors. I was a part-time employed| soon-to-be single mom with a low income| a large amount of student loan debt| and a huge question mark of a future in front of me. Those details didn’t matter though when I put on my sneakers| sunblock| exercise gear| and earbuds| ready to face the trail around my local reservoir and all the dogs| moms| and couples walking and running alongside me.

There were many times I ran through tears. Sometimes it felt as if I were running away from my problems and my life. From myself. I remembered all the good times in my marriage and I thought of the bad times too. I remembered hitting the reservoir trail when my daughter was an infant in her stroller| enjoying the fresh air| feeling human again even with my weak post-partum core (thanks to a C-section) and my leaking breasts (thanks to breastfeeding). Here I was again| but my daughter was with her dad during his parenting time. Now I was keeping up with the wind without her.

I was alone| yet I wasn’t lonely.

Running is a companion in itself. The movement| the air| the soundtrack ¡ª they become your friends whether you’ve run one mile or three| whether you give up and start walking or whether you pound through your fatigue and trudge ahead. Running was the silent| steady| true companion I needed to remind myself of who I was before marriage and who I could be after marriage. It was the free therapist I sought counsel in. It was the way I found answers to problems and how I calmed my fears. Running was the one partner who told me without wavering: “You are strong. You are sexy.”

Running told me: “You can get through this divorce even| if for today| you believe you can’t.” I hadn’t known I needed a cheerleader to get me through divorce| but I did.

After a brief time| that running translated into energy and that energy infused my workouts. I started increasing my weights at the gym and requiring more of myself. In a split second| I wasn’t simply thin ¡ª I was slim and toned and not too shabby looking for a late-30s soon-to-be divorced mom.

I can thank it all for the one time I thought to myself| “Let me try this.”

Today| I am still not a marathon runner and have never made it to a 5K| but it’s still the one thing almost two years later that turns off the noise in my brain| giving me clarity and peace. It’s the best gift I have given to myself since saying “I don’t.”

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell