30 Minute Bodyweight Strength Workout

I was recently given the less than awesome news that my favorite cardio exercises would need to take a backseat for an extended time to allow a lumbar disc issue to resolve.  After an afternoon of self-pity, I decided to focus on the CANs of my situation rather than the CAN’Ts.  I found that I CAN strength train (minus exercises involving forward flexion of the spine i.e. deadlifts, etc.).  I CAN focus on building my foundation (back, abs, hips) with bodyweight exercises and weightlifting.  I CAN focus on becoming stronger than I previously was.  I CAN learn to face my anxiety/depression tendencies with NEW coping skills rather always relying on than dealing with stress through a long run.  I CAN take this opportunity to focus on improving my nutrition.  I CAN look past the storm cloud and see the silver lining. 

I designed the following workout for myself in response my personal “storm cloud” and it’s been a great way to really focus on strengthening my foundation.  As usual, when I find something I like I want to share it with you, too!  You could easily make this workout more difficult by adding weights to each exercise.  I also found that the mobile app, Seconds, is really handy for timing intervals!  No more watching the clock, or more accurately, no more getting distracted, resulting in working one side of the body waaay longer than the other.

Marching Abs

Lie on back with knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat, toes pointing straight ahead and arms by sides.  Draw in the abs.  Lift one foot off the floor only as high as can be controlled.  Hold 1 to 2 seconds, slowly lower and repeat on the opposite leg.


Two-Leg Floor Bridge

Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on floor, and toes shoulder-width apart and pointing straight ahead.  Engage the glutes, lifting pelvis off the floor until the knees, hips, and shoulders are in line. *   Slowly lower to the floor.  Repeat.  *Do not raise the hips too far up off the floor, hyperextending the low back. 



Lie facedown on floor with feet together and forearms on ground.  Lift entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe, resting on the forearms and toes.  Hold for 1 minute, keeping chin tucked and back flat.  *If 1 minute is too long, hold for as long as possible then drop knees to floor for a quick rest and lift back up when ready.


Quadruped Arm/Leg Raises

Kneeling on mat on all fours, position hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees directly underneath your hips.  Keep spine neutral throughout the movement, maintaining a straight line from hips, shoulder and ear.  Slowly extend the left arm up and forward while simultaneously extending your right leg up and backward until both limbs are parallel to the floor.  Hold this position for 1 – 2 seconds then slowly lower both limbs to the floor.  Repeat on opposite side.


Side Plank

Lie on one side, legs straight and upper body propped on one forearm, elbow under shoulder.  Contract abs and raise your hips until your body is straight from ankles to head.  Hold for 1 – 2 seconds then slowly lower to floor.  *Be sure to work both right and left side.


Wall Squat Hold

Stand with back flat against a wall, drawing in abs to protect the lumbar spine, bend knees and lower body to 90-degree angle.  Hold position.


Plié Squat

Stand with chest up, shoulders back, feet wider than shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and toes facing out.  Slowly bend knees and lower to a 90-degree angle, thigh parallel to the floor.   Pause.  Slowly straighten legs, using the gluteal muscles, squeezing at the top.  Be sure to keep back straight and chest up throughout the entire movement.


Split Squat

Stand with left foot forward and right foot back, chest up, shoulders back.  Imagine a line connecting the ear, shoulder and hip.  Lower body until thigh is parallel to the floor, creating right angles at both knees.  Rise back up engaging glutes pushing through the heel maintaining neutral hips, upright torso and stability.  Repeat.  *Be sure to work both right and left side.


Forward Lunges

Stand with feet hip width apart.  Draw in abs, keeping ear, shoulder and hip in a straight line, stepping left foot forward, lower body to floor until knee is at a 90-degree angle and not extending over the toe.  Pause.  Using glutes, push up through the heel, returning to standing position.  Repeat exercise alternating right and left foot forward.  


Side Lunges

Stand with feet hip width apart.  Take a large step with your left foot to the left side and lunge toward the floor.  Make sure your knee does not extend past your toes and keep your right leg relatively straight.  Push off through your left foot, engaging glutes, and return to start.  Repeat on opposite side.



Lie facedown on floor with feet together and hands firmly on ground directly under shoulders.  Ground your toes into floor to stabilize lower half.  Keeping a straight line from head to toe, lift entire body off the ground.  Maintain a flat back and eyes focused approx. 3 ft. in front of you to keep a neutral neck as you lower until your chest grazes the floor.  Draw shoulder blades back and down, keeping elbows tucked close to the body (Don’t “T” arms).  Keep core engaged, exhale as you push back to the starting position.  *Do not let your backside dip or stick out at any point during the move.


Staggered Push-ups

Follow instructions of a standard push-up EXCEPT place one hand slightly wider and a few inches farther forward and the other hand directly under your shoulder (elbow brushes ribs).  Swap hand positions after each set.


Triceps Dip

Start in a seated position with your feet flexed in front of you and your heels touching the floor.  Place your hands beneath your shoulders with fingertips pointing toward your hips and elbows behind you.  Lift hips 9-12 inches off the floor, keeping shoulder directly over your wrists.  Pause.  Lower back down by bending elbows directly behind you.  Repeat.


Arm Circles

Stand with arms extended by the sides, perpendicular to the torso.  Slowly make clockwise circles for 30 seconds (about 1 ft. in diameter).  Then reverse the movement, going counter-clockwise.


Wall Angels

Stand against the wall with arms at a 90-degree angle and level with shoulders while maintaining contact against the wall with tailbone and shoulder blades.  Slowly and controlled, raise arms above head, keeping elbows and wrists as close to the wall as possible.  Lower your arms to the starting position and repeat.

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