In our June issue, we’re challenging readers to make strength training a part of their workout routine each week. After all, strength training does more than build muscles. It helps support and strengthen your entire body and is integral to your overall fitness.
Our 12HH hero this month is yoga and Pilates instructor and Health contributing editor Kristin McGee. She’s offering her best tips for getting stronger, even when your day doesn’t afford you the luxury of an hour at the gym. “What I love about yoga and Pilates is that they’re holistic. They strengthen the entire body as a unit, as a system,” she says. “Sun salutations and warrior poses are great strength-builders. Try three between meetings or while your kid is napping.”
– Start by standing with your feet together. Inhale, and lift your arms up to the ceiling.
– As you exhale, fold forward. Bend your knees if you need to. Plant your hands on the ground.
– Inhale. Step your right foot back to a lunge.
– Exhale. Step your left foot into a high plank.
– Lower down into a narrow-arm push-up. If a narrow arm push-up is too difficult, lower your body all the way to the floor. Then press with your hands and lift your upper body into an upward facing dog, or a cobra if your thighs are on the floor.
– Press your hips back to downward facing dog, which is like an upside down triangle. Your hands are forward, your hips are lifted. Your heels are back. Hold for 5 breaths.
– Then step your right foot forward again to lunge. Step your left foot forward to fold into your legs, and then rise up to stand, lifting your arms up to the ceiling again.
– Finally, bring your hands back down to your side. Repeat three times.
Watch a step-by-step Sun Salutation video from Health.com.
– Start by standing with your feet together. Point your left toe behind you, putting your weight forward onto your right leg.
– Lift your left leg and lower your head and torso until your body is in a straight horizontal line from head to toe. Your hands are by your sides*. Be sure to keep your left thigh, hip, and toes flexed and facing downward. Do not lock your right knee.
– Hold this pose for five breaths. Slowly return to standing position.
– Switch legs and repeat three times on each side.
*Easier variation: If balancing with your arms by your side is difficult, you can keep them parallel to the floor like an airplane. Another variation: Reach your arms forward and interlace your fingers with your pointer fingers pointing forward.
Watch a video demonstration of the Warrior III pose on Health.com.
Read more from Kristin, find other strengthening yoga poses, and watch video demonstrations from our sister publication, Health.