#1 Move Your Body Every Day In A Way That Feels Good To You
What + Why: Any type of movement that is joyful for you, from simply stretching your arms up toward the sky first thing in the morning to dancing while your coffee brews to swimming to hitting tennis balls to playing tag in the park. If we are truly to be strong in body and heart, we must reorient our relationship to pleasure, come to know and trust our impulses and learn to listen to the language of our bodies.
#2 Get Strong
2 - 3 days / week
3 - 6 exercises x 6 - 12 repetitions x 3 sets = 20 - 40 minutes
What + Why: Compound movements that work your entire body and use weights to tax your muscles beyond the level of exertion of your typical daily life tasks.I like to refer to strength training as “Your trusty best friend.” Just like a good friend makes everything better, being strong makes everything more enjoyable, from the tasks of daily life to your favorite adventure activities. In addition to the myriad benefits of exercise in general, strength training prevents bone and muscle loss, which means greater chance for independence well into old age. Raise your hand if you want to be able to get off the toilet by yourself when you are 80! Sign me up!
#3 Simple Sweat
3 - 5 days on its own and/or days after a strength session
30 - 90 minutes on its own or can be broken into 10 minute increments spread throughout your day
10 - 20 minutes when done after your strength training
What + Why: Moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise performed at a 4 - 6 on a Rate Of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale. At this intensity you are making an effort. You can carry on a conversation, but it might be challenging to do so. You cannot sing. Activities such as hiking, jogging, biking, dancing, swimming and the like. In addition to the benefits of general exercise, Simple Sweat workouts Improve your cardiovascular fitness, which is your body’s ability to intake, distribute and utilize oxygen for energy (called VO2 max or maximum aerobic capacity). Increases blood flow to damaged muscle tissues to boost your recovery after more intense exercise sessions and injuries.
#4 Serious Sweat (Optional)
1 day per week on its own + 1 day after a strength session.
15- 20 minutes when done alone
5 - 10 minutes when done after strength training
What + Why: Short bursts of very hard work (7 - 10 RPE) paired with short recovery periods. Cycling, running stairs, jump rope, swimming sprints, or any other type of exercise that gets your heart pumping. You can also do a metabolic strength training session in which you move through strength circuits with little or no rest between movements. Often referred to as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). All the benefits of moderate intensity cardio, but requires less time and delivers an additional metabolic boost. I prescribe HIIT as optional, because it is more stressful on the body and requires more recovery time. As we age, this might be a downside of this type of training.
#5 Make Shapes
2 - 7 days per week
10 - 90 minutes, can be done on its own or before or after strength training or sweat sessions
What + Why: Yoga, mobility training, Feldenkrais, Qi Gong, animal flow, modern dance, parkour, movement play and any modality that allows you to explore different shapes in your body. Lubricates your joints and keeps fascial lines hydrated and gliding. Shape variety prevents overuse of repetitive movement patterns. Can calm your nervous system and ease aches and pains. Engages your brain with novelty.
#6 Move With Gentle Attention
When exercising, performing physical therapy movements, in general throughout your day
What + Why: Paying attention to your movement technique, alignment and postures. It’s not just what you do that matters, but how you do what you do. Corrective style exercises you might get from a physical therapist fall into this category. Modalities like Pilates, yoga, Qi Gong, Feldenkrais and Alexander Technique can also fall into this category. We live in gravity and our bodies are an interconnected system of pulleys and levers. Therefore the orientation of our bones in relationship to one another affects everything from joint health to organ function. Notice that I used the phrase “gentle attention” and not “perfect technique” or “proper alignment.” This is not about attempting to find a pinpointed place of perfect posture that you must maintain. Rather this is simply about bringing your awareness to your movement technique and how this technique affects your embodied sensations and performance.
Below is the weekly template that I (loosely) following and give (along with personalized changes) to my clients:
Take it, twist it, teak it and make it your own!
The more vertical your shin, the more of a hinge you’re in!
Movement #1: Half-Kneeling x 1 minute each side
If the hip on your front leg is hiked up, relax it down. Your hips should be level.
Find a neutral pelvis by aligning your pubic bone slightly forward of your hip bones.
Breathe easily in and out through your nose for 1 minute.
Repeat on both sides before moving onto movement #2.
Movement #2: Half-Kneeling with Butt Engagement x 30 seconds x 3 rounds
While maintaining your neutral pelvis, engage the butt muscles on the back leg
Hold for 30 seconds while breathing easily and engaging your butt like crazy!
Relax and repeat for 3 total rounds on one side before moving onto the other side.
Bonus points if you can feel how engaging your butt moves your the top of your femur back in your hip socket and your thighbone slightly back in space.
Do sequence on both sides before moving on to Movement #3.
Movement #3: Opposite Contractions
Engage the butt muscle on your back leg while attempting to drag your knee backward and imagining that you were going kick your heel to your butt (without actually do it).
Hold this contraction strongly for 20 - 30 seconds.
Then perform the opposite contraction by actively kicking your back foot into the floor and attempting to drag your back knee forward in space.
Hold this contraction actively for 20 - 30 seconds.
Move back into the first contraction and repeat the sequence for a total of 3 rounds.
Make sure to end with the the hip extension engagement. This means the engagement where the butt muscles on your back leg are actively trying to pull your thigh bone back in space and move your pelvis slightly forward in space.