Walking is hands (or feet!) down one of my favorite modes of exercise. It’s effective, simple to do anywhere, and has amazing benefits for not only your physical, but mental health.
That’s why last month we started a walking streak, committing to making a daily walk a habit.
Start TODAY member Sandy Vecchi walked at least 10,000 steps every single day in June and recently started adding in strength workouts three times a week. She’s already feeling more energized and seeing a difference in her body.
“This has made a huge difference in the total calories I’m burning as well as the inches I’m shedding. I can tell the difference in the way my clothes fit without seeing a big change to my weight,” she wrote in the Start TODAY Facebook group. “It’s not all about the number on the scale. Everything I read, especially as you age…I’m 65…says strength training is a must addition to your workout. I’m already seeing the benefits!”
Vecchi is right. Now that we’ve made daily walks a habit, it’s important to start incorporating strength-training into the mix. We’re starting with the upper body, which doesn’t get worked during our walks.
Whether you’re an avid walker or brand new to exercise, this plan can work for you. In addition to walking as cardio, we will add two upper-body routines to the workout schedule. The first routine utilizes dumbbells, while the second uses resistance bands. The best part? Each routine is only 10 minutes!
If you’re new to exercise, start by simply making walking a habit with our 30-day walking plan!
A 31-day walking and upper-body strength routine
Walking is always a good idea. So if you want to walk every day (even on strength days) — go for it! The important thing is to always include a rest day in between performing upper-body exercises to give your muscles time to recover. That’s why you will see on the calendar that we have an upper-body routine scheduled every other day.
Why do we utilize two types of equipment for the upper body exercises? There are two reasons. The first is accessibility. If you already own dumbbells or a resistance band — great! Use the one you already have. If you find yourself traveling or on the go a lot this month, resistance bands may prove the better option. You can easily toss them in a bag or suitcase to be sure to get your strength training in regardless of where you are. Secondly, while you will be performing the same exercises with both pieces of equipment, the way they train our muscles is different. Dumbbells only add resistance during one part of the movement, for example, on the curl up during bicep curls. The resistance band adds resistance during the curl and the release of a bicep curl. So you’ll feel your muscles working differently depending on which routine you are doing.
Both routines are comprised of the same five exercises. Repeat each exercise for 10 reps before moving on to the next and complete the entire circuit three times through.
Upper body workout 1: Dumbbells
Bicep curls with external rotation
Grab a dumbbell in each hand and start with your arms hanging down by your sides. Rotate your arms externally out to the sides. Keeping your elbows hugged into your body, curl the weights up toward your shoulders. Slowly lower them back down. Be careful not to let your arms swing. If your arms are swinging, your weights may be too heavy.
Stand with your feet as wide as the shoulders and hold one dumbbell in each hand. Bring the dumbbells up to a goal-post position at shoulder height. Press the weights up toward the ceiling, so that they are slightly in front of your head (just enough so you can see the weights with your eyes without looking up with your neck). Relax the neck and keep your shoulders down away from the ears. Bring the weights back to the goal post position. Repeat.
Holding a weight in each hand, hinge forward at the hips with a flat back. Hug your elbows in toward your sides and kick the weight back by moving the arm below the elbow only to straighten your arms. Feel the back of your arm tighten as you press the arm back, and then release it back to the starting position. Repeat.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Standing up straight, lift your arms straight out to each side until they are extended out in a “T” position parallel to the floor. Slowly lower the weights back down to your sides. Repeat
“V” for victory
Hold a dumbbell in each hand down in front of your hip bones. Relax your shoulders and engage your core. Then, bring the weights up straight from your hips toward the front corners of the room as high and wide as your shoulders in a “V” position. Then lower the weights down toward your hips, keeping the arms straight. Repeat.
Upper body workout 2: Resistance bands
Bicep curls with external rotation
Hold one handle in each hand and step on the center of the band with both feet hips-distance apart. Slightly bend your knees and pull your abs in. Keeping your upper arms glued to your sides, externally rotate the arms so that the arms are turned out. Then pull the band up toward your shoulders into a bicep curl. Release back to the starting position. Repeat.
Hold one handle in each hand. Step one foot forward, standing on top of the band, and the other foot back behind you into a lunge. Switch your grip, grabbing the handles from underneath so that your palms are facing forward, away from you. Hold the handles at shoulder height. Press the band up over your head, extending both arms fully. Release back down to the starting position. Repeat.
Fold the band in half. Hold one side in your left hand at your heart and hold onto the opposite side of the band with your right hand. Bring your right arm by your side and bent at a 90-degree angle. Hug your right elbow in toward your right side. Then, pull the band with your right hand down and back, straightening the arm into a tricep extension. Release slowly to the starting position. Repeat.
Stand with both feet on the band hip-distance apart and hold a handle in each hand. Rest the arms by your sides. Then engage the shoulders and arms as you pull the bands straight out to the sides up just as high as the shoulders into a “T” position. Slowly lower them down. Repeat.
“V” for victory
Starting in the above position, place your hands on top of the band handles so that the palms face toward you. Hold the bands right in front of your hip bones. Then exhale as you pull the bands up from your hips and out to the front corners of the room, until you reach shoulder height, forming a “V” shape. Then slowly release. Repeat.