This program isn’t just for the true beginner who has never touched a weight before; it’s also suitable for anyone who has taken an extended leave of absence from training. How long has it been since you went to the gym regularly? Six months? A year? Five years? No worries: The following routines will get you back on track in—you guessed it—just four short weeks. Let’s get to work.
Your body has that whole breathing thing on lock, but there's more than one way to inhale and exhale and some require extra work from the abs. "Kapalabhati breathing engages the transverse abdominis to push out the breath," says Allison Candelaria, owner of Soul Yoga in Oklahoma City. Here's how to do it: Sit tall, then strongly and quickly pull your navel toward your spine. Then release your ab muscles, forcing you to exhale. Work up to doing that 20 times, inhaling and letting your belly expand between each "pump." (This belly bonfire breathing technique can also help you fire up your body anywhere, anytime.)
Tracing the origins of Western MMB training suggests that the regular practice of movement-harmonizing exercises was embedded in ancient Greek culture.1 Herodotis. The history of Herodotus. New York (NY): Appleman and Company; 1885. [Google Scholar] Calisthenics in Greek means strength and beauty, a combination highlighted in Greek mythology and everyday life. This philosophy engendered sporting activities that were practiced to facilitate self-empowerment and prepare for events such as the Olympic Games or military actions.2 The Atlantic [Internet]. Cheever DW. The Gymnasium (1859). 2015 Aug 30 [cited 2015 Aug 30]. Available from: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1859/05/the-gymnasium/305407/. [Google Scholar] Today, Calisthenics refers to full-body movement exercises benefiting the body and mind by employing functional motions such as bending, stretching, twisting, kicking, jumping, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats.3 Greek Calisthenics Movement [Internet]. History. 2015 Jun 25 [cited 2015 Aug 30]. Available from: http://calisthenics.gr/en/index.html. [Google Scholar]
One of the foundational moves of any strength program is the back squat. The back squat is performed with a barbell across the trapezius muscles, feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and feet slightly turned out. HOW TO DO IT: Take a big breath to brace the core, then send your buttocks back while keeping your chest big and proud. You should squat below parallel if your mobility allows. As you drive up, think of screwing your feet out and into the ground. This cue will fire the glutes so that you can get the most strength out of the movement. MUSCLES USED: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and core.