A Strength Workout When You Need it Most

30 minutes.  5 minutes. Doesn’t really matter. It’s five more than you would have done had you not made the choice to get up and move. And sometimes, just moving is the only logical thing to do. To get up and move … to move forward.

The past few weeks have been crazy to say the least. Some mornings I just wanted to stay under my covers and not see the light of day. But those are the times I needed to practice what I preach, to move and sweat through some of the shit that’s been going down.

Whether it’s this strength workout, a crazy boxing class, a run along the lake or standing up from your desk to walk downstairs for a breath of fresh air, don’t discount what a little movement can do.

This strength workout uses dumbbells and some kind of step. Get your gear and just start moving. If you do this workout, let us know here!

Here’s what the workout looks like:

This workout is rep-based. You’ll do three sets with 10-12 reps of each move and rest 30 seconds between sets. Do all three sets of one move before going on to the next one. Rest 30 seconds between exercises. Challenge yourself and choose a heavier set of weights than you normally would. Test yourself – you can drop down to a lighter set if needed.

These are the moves:

First, get your blood moving with a cardio-based warm-up (i.e. hop on a bike or treadmill or use a jump rope). Then start your sets:

  • Recline Chest press
  • Tricep dips on step
  • Seesaw presses (kneeling or standing?)
  • 1-arm bent over row
  • Stepper lunge and curl
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Calf raises

And this is what they look like:

Recline Chest press: In supine position, hold your dumbbells with your palms facing forward and your elbows on the floor near your ribs. Plant your feet. Press your weights up keeping your palms facing forward and lower back down to your starting position. You can easily perform this on a step as well, if you have the room on your step, by resting your shoulder blades on your step and keeping your hips lifted in a bridge position the whole time.

asweatlife_fittest_chestpress2 asweatlife_fittest_chestpress1

Triceps dips on step: Sit onto your step and place your hands by your hips, fingertips towards feet. Walk your feet out – the further you walk them out the more difficult your dip will be – and lower your body down, focusing on keeping elbows wrapped in close to you. Think more about elbows going back than sitting your butt down below your step, although you will lower your body some. Exhale as you press your arms to straight and body up to a reverse table top position. The images below show bent-knee and straight-leg variations to scale the move.
asweatlife_strengthstep_tridips asweatlife_strengthstep_tridips2 asweatlife_strengthstep_trivariation asweatlife_strengthstep_trivariation2

Seesaw presses: With one foot on the step (option to keep both feet on the ground or do this from a kneeling position as well), raise one weight straight over head, straightening your arm all the way overhead. As you lower your top arm back down through the middle, lift your other arm straight up. Both arms will be moving simultaneously in opposite directions, just meeting in the middle with elbows at shoulder height briefly.
asweatlife_strengthstep_seesaw1 asweatlife_strengthstep_seesaw2 asweatlife_strengthstep_seesaw3

1-arm bent over row: Place your right leg on your step and hinge forward. Rest your right arm lightly on your right thigh, holding one weight in your left hand. Draw your left elbow back and behind you, focusing on the moment at the top of your row for a second before returning the weight forward. Avoid rounding your shoulders and dumping into your right shoulder. Each arm gets 3 sets total.
asweatlife_strengthstep_1-arm-row asweatlife_strengthstep_1armrow2

Stepper lunge and curl: With your right leg on your step and your left leg on the ground, lower down into a lunge. Keep your right knee right over your toes – not moving past them. Hold a dumbbell in either hand if you can maintain balance here. As you exhale, drive your right heel down, engage your glutes and right hamstring to rise up onto the step. Aim to keep your left leg hovering and draw it up into your chest. Option to add a biceps curl at the top. With control, release from the biceps curl and land your left foot back into your lunge. Each leg gets 3 sets total.
asweatlife_strengthstep_stepperlunge asweatlife_strengthstep_stepperlunge2 asweatlife_strengthstep_stepperlunge3

Squats: Start with your right foot on the step and weights racked on your shoulders. Lower down into a squat, keeping your weight firmly in both heels. Exhale as your rise up to stand. Switch which leg is on the step after half the set.

Deadlifts: With weight in the mid-sole of your feet and a slight bend in your knees to avoid locking your knees out, hold your heavy dumbbells with your palms facing your body. Hinge forward from your hips, keeping your back flat and core pulled in as you slide your weights down the front of your body. Lower down for three and stand back up for one count.asweatlife_strengthstep_deadlift1

Calf raises: Stand on your step with the edges of your heels slightly off. You can hold one, both or no weights for these calf raises. Exhale as you rise up onto your toes and inhale as you lower your heels. They will lower just beneath the step, but avoid letting them drop too far down. Maintain control by engaging your core and all your leg muscles here. Imagine rising up in one straight line, keeping your ankles stabilized and avoiding rolling in or out. You can do this off your step for more stability.  asweatlife_strengthstep_calfraise2

(Disclaimer: This workout is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor is it a replacement for seeking medical treatment or professional nutrition advice. Do not start any nutrition or physical activity program without first consulting your physician.)

Move Workouts

About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.