Home Workout in 6 Minutes

In this article, I’ll explain the nuts and bolts of the six-minute workout. After reading this article, you’ll know everything there is to know about the six-minute workout and be able to perform it with precision.

Personalization, Precision, Programming, and the “Big Three”

So, what do I mean by the “Big Three”? The Big Three is a minimalist exercise program that focuses on three basic movements the human body is built to perform. These movements are tailored to your level of function and put together in a way that maximizes their benefit.

Wait a minute … the entire program is only three exercises? Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. And there’s a good reason: research shows that humans may only be able to hold three or four things in the conscious mind at one time.

My experience working with thousands of clients over the years confirms this finding. When I ask people to focus on more than three exercises on their own, the quality of movement generally goes down the drain. This can result in either time wasted on ineffective workouts in the best-case scenario, or injuries in the worst-case scenario.

But removing this mental clutter isn’t the only thing that makes the Big Three work, and it goes much deeper than just performing three exercises. The program is super effective because it combines functional training and higher-intensity training adapted for older adults. 

You will remember that functional training is an exercise that mimics activities or specific skills you perform at home, at work, or in sports to help you thrive in your daily life. You may also recall that HIIT is an approach to training that alternates between short periods of higher-intensity exercise and less intense recovery periods.

The Big Three’s combination of functional training and higher-intensity training adapted for older adults stimulates the body in powerful ways to generate results fast.

The important concepts behind the Big Three are personalization, precision, and programming.

Personalization

The Big Three adapts exercise to different levels of function, physical limitations, and fitness goals common in older adults. This type of personalization makes exercise safe and effective while fulfilling the needs of most people.

The Big Three has four levels:

Level I is designed for older adults who can’t stand or have difficulty standing for at least six minutes with or without support (e.g., a walker), due to limitations in strength, balance, or energy.

Level II is designed for older adults who have no difficulty standing but who lack the strength or energy to walk at a vigorous pace for at least six minutes. This level is also appropriate for those who have difficulty going up and down a flight of stairs.

Level III is designed for older adults who are high functioning. This means they can walk at a vigorous pace for more than six minutes and can go up and down several flights of stairs with no difficulty.

Level IV is designed to exercise the upper body after eight weeks of Level II or Level III exercise.

Precision

Precision refers to the quality of the exercise as performed. Also known as proper form or technique, precision considers factors like body alignment, movement angle, and range of motion, all of which are essential for successful training.

With exercise, the difference between what is precise and not precise can be as little as an inch in alignment or movement. Just one inch can make the difference between injury and no injury, and between progress and no progress.

I’m big on precision, for obvious reasons. I’ll provide detailed yet simple instructions in the next few sections to help you perform the exercise with precision.

Programming

Programming refers to the design of the workout session: the number and type of exercises performed, the number of repetitions for each one, the length of rest breaks between exercises, and the order in which the exercises are performed.

Programming also considers factors such as the number of times exercises are performed in a day, the time is taken between exercise sessions if performed more than once daily, whether the same or different exercises are used, and how many times a week exercise is performed.

You need to consider these factors because the exact same exercises can be adapted to people with different needs—and even yield different results for the same person—depending on how the pieces are put together.

Programming for the Big Three is meant to maximize its ability to improve strength, balance, and energy safely, quickly, and effectively in adults from ages 60–100.

Here are the programming considerations for the Big Three:

  • Number of exercises: Three.
  • Sessions a day exercise is performed: Two times a day.
  • Time spaced between sessions: At least three hours apart; exercises should preferably be performed before meals.
  • Days a week exercise is performed: Exercise seven days a week for the first two weeks, with exercise reduced to six days a week after that.
  • Repetitions: Each exercise is performed for up to 15 repetitions in sequence without rest. Whatever amount of repetitions you do should be the same for all exercises within a workout session. One round is counted every time you complete all three of the exercises. Your goal is to complete as many rounds as possible in six minutes, or until exhaustion.
  • Rest break: Short rest breaks of up to 30 seconds are allowed, but only if you’re completely exhausted and only after a full round of exercise has been completed.
  • Order of exercises: This changes daily in a rotational manner. For example, on day one, you’ll perform exercises in the order ABC, on day two CAB, and day three BCA.
  • Same or different routines: Same set of exercises daily until you’re ready for a higher level. If you’re on the border between levels, you can perform the harder level for your first session and the easier one for your second session.
  • Upper body exercises: Performed once daily after eight weeks of Level II or Level III.

Now you understand the concept behind the Big Three and how personalization, precision, and programming can bring rapid change to your body, no matter what your age or level of function.

In the next section, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of how to perform Big Three Level I.

Action Steps

Read the description of each level of the Big Three, and decide which one is the best fit for you. You can go through each chapter in this part of the book to help you decide, or you can skip directly to the chapter with the level of Big Three that you feel is the best fit for you.

Big Three Level I

Level I is designed for older adults who can’t stand or who have difficulty standing for at least six minutes with or without support, such as a walker, due to limitations in strength, balance, or energy. All exercises for Level I are performed while lying on your back.

I don’t recommend performing these exercises on the floor because getting up again may be difficult or dangerous. You’ll be ready for Level II once you can stand for six minutes without too

much difficulty.

Exercise 1: Straight Leg Raise

The first exercise in Level I is the straight leg raise. This exercise primarily works the large muscles on the front of the thighs, called the quadriceps. Known as antigravity muscles, these muscles work to oppose the effects of gravity, helping you maintain an upright and balanced posture in standing. 

The quadriceps are important muscles that help you go from sitting to standing and maintain your body in the standing position.

Equipment 

Required

  • A firm surface to lie down on; a softer bed or couch will work if a firm surface is not available.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • None.

To increase the challenge (optional)

  • Ankle weights.

Performing the straight leg raise

Starting position

  • Lie on your back with one knee straight and the other knee bent with the sole of your foot flat on the surface.
  • Ensure that the toes of your straight leg are pointed straight up and not turned to either side.
  • Tighten the front thigh muscles of your straight leg.

Movement to ending position

  • Lift the straight leg while keeping the front thigh muscles tight, the knee straight, and the toes pointed straight up. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • The straight leg is lifted so that the heel is two to three feet above the surface. Hold for a half-second.

Return to starting position

  • Lower the leg back to the starting position with control while keeping the front of the thigh muscles tight, the knee straight, and the toes pointed straight up.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace on the same leg up to 15 times.
  • Repeat this exercise on the opposite leg once you’ve completed your repetitions on one side.

Points to consider

  • Make sure you’re lying relatively flat while performing this exercise. The more your body is inclined, the less range of motion your leg gets, which means less work for your muscles, making the exercise less effective. You can have your head elevated on a pillow if you find that more comfortable.
  • Make sure the toes of the straight leg are pointed straight up throughout this exercise. We tend to have our toes turned outward an inch or more, which can create muscle imbalances.
  • Make sure the front thigh muscles of the lifting leg stay tight and the knee is straight throughout the exercise. This ensures the muscles get as much work as possible.
  • Make sure the bottom of the heel is no higher than three feet from the surface when the leg is in the ending position. We tend to lift the leg too high, which actually takes the work off the muscle and reduces the effectiveness of this exercise.

To decrease challenge

  • If you’re not strong enough to lift your leg to the correct height, lift it to wherever you can manage right now. You’ll get stronger over time.

To increase challenge

  • Modify the starting position so that the heel of the straight leg is hovering a half-inch above the surface. Perform the exercise so that your heel doesn’t touch the surface at any time.
  • Add an ankle weight to your leg. Start by placing the weight above your knee, lowering it to your ankle as you get stronger. This helps to gradually increase the torque around your hip and knee to protect you from injury.

Exercise 2: Single-Leg Tuck

The second exercise in Level I is the single-leg tuck. Like the straight leg raise, this exercise primarily works the large antigravity muscles at the front of the thighs, but it also works the hip flexor muscles that lift your legs from the ground.

Weakness in the hip flexor muscles can make the legs feel heavy and are a common reason why older adults drag their feet when they walk; this altered gait results in a high risk for falls. Strengthening the hip flexor muscles will make your legs feel less heavy and help you pick up your feet to clear the ground.

Equipment

Required

  • A firm surface to lie down on; a softer bed or couch will work if a firm surface is not available.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • None.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • Ankle weights.

Performing the single-leg tuck

Starting position

  • Lie on your back with one knee straight and the other knee bent with the sole of your foot flat on the surface.
  • Ensure that the toes of your straight leg are pointed straight up and not turned to either side.

Movement to ending position

  • Lift the straight leg about 12 inches off the surface. Then bring the knee of the lifted leg toward your chest until the hip and the knee are both bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • The leg that you lifted is bent 90 degrees at the hip and knee. Hold for a half-second.

Return to starting position

  • Straighten the lifted leg while lowering it back to the starting position with control and ensuring that the toes are pointed straight up.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace on the same leg up to 15 times. Repeat this exercise on the opposite leg once you’ve completed your repetitions on one side.

Points to consider

  • Make sure you’re lying relatively flat while performing this exercise. The more your body is inclined, the less range of motion your leg gets, which means less work for your muscles, making the exercise less effective. You can have your head elevated on a pillow if you find that more comfortable.
  • Make sure the toes of the straight leg are pointed straight up throughout this exercise. We tend to have our toes turned outward an inch or more, which can create muscle imbalances.
  • Make sure the knee does not bend too much during the movement portion of this exercise. The tendency is for the heel to drop toward the buttocks, which bends the knee too much and reduces the work on the muscles, making the exercise less effective. The movement should look like you’re marching in place on one leg while lying on your back.
  • In the ending position, make sure the hip and knee of the moving leg are bent 90 degrees. The body should be in the shape of a lowercase letter h, or a chair, with your lower legs making the legs of the chair, your upper leg perpendicular making the seat, and your body making the backrest. We tend to overshoot the movement so that the hip and knee are bent too much in the ending position. This is a coordination issue that will improve with practice.

To decrease challenge

  • If you’re not strong enough to perform this exercise with the proper form, have someone help you by placing one hand on your knee and one hand on your ankle to lightly guide you through the motion.

To increase challenge

  • Modify the starting position so that the heel of the straight leg is hovering a half-inch above the surface. Perform the exercise so that your heel doesn’t touch the surface at any time.
  • Add an ankle weight to your leg. Start by placing the weight above your knee, lowering it to your ankle as you get stronger. This helps to gradually increase the torque around your hip and knee to protect you from injury.

Exercise 3: Hip Raise

The third exercise in Level I is the hip raise. This exercise primarily works the powerful muscles of your buttocks, commonly referred to as the glutes. The glutes are important muscles that help you go from sitting to standing and also oppose the effects of gravity to help you maintain an upright and balanced posture when standing.

Equipment

Required

  • A firm surface to lie on; a softer bed or couch will work if a firm surface is not available.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • None.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • Ankle weights.

Performing the hip raise

Starting position

  • Lie on your back with your hands folded together on your stomach, both knees bent at slightly less than 90 degrees, feet flat on the surface with toes pointed straight forward, and feet and knees about six inches apart.
  • Tighten your buttocks and abdominal muscles.

Movement to ending position

  • Lift your hips up by pushing down on your feet while keeping your abdominal muscles tight. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • Your hips are lifted so that your body is in a straight line from your knees to shoulders, and your knees are bent at about 90 degrees. Hold for one to two seconds.

Return to starting position

  • Lower the hips back to the starting position with control while keeping your abdominal muscles tight.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace up to 15 times.

Points to consider

  • Make sure you’re lying relatively flat while performing this exercise. You can have your head elevated on a pillow if you find that more comfortable.
  • Make sure the toes of both feet are pointed straight forward and not turned outward or inward. Also, ensure your feet are aligned so the toes of one foot are not ahead or behind the toes of the other. This will avoid creating muscle imbalances.
  • Make sure that both knees are bent to slightly less than 90 degrees in the starting position. You can accomplish this by bending your knees to 90 degrees and then sliding both heels about two inches toward your buttocks. This is so that your knees will be at a 90-degree angle when your hips are fully raised in the ending position, which optimizes the work on your glute muscles while also protecting your lower back.
  • Make sure to keep the feet and knees six inches apart during this exercise. You may tend to collapse the knees inward during movement, which may place strain on your joints.
  • Your hands should be resting on your stomach so you avoid the temptation of using them to assist with the movement.

To decrease challenge

  • If you’re not strong enough to lift your hips to the correct height, lift to wherever you can; you’ll get stronger over time.

To increase challenge

  • Place ankle weights on top of your pelvis to increase the resistance.

In this section, you learned the nuts and bolts of performing Big Three Level I. The next section provides detailed instructions for Big Three Level II.

Action Steps

If this is the right level for you, spend some time going through the steps of each exercise until the movement feels natural. Try to cultivate an experimental mindset, and slow things down to learn the movements correctly. It’s okay if your performance is less than perfect at first. Notice what “right” feels like in your body as you start to get the hang of each exercise.

Big Three Level II

This level is designed for older adults who have no difficulty standing but who lack the strength or energy to walk at a vigorous pace for at least six minutes.

Level II is also designed for those who have difficulty going up and down a flight of stairs. You’ll be ready for Level III once you can walk at a vigorous pace for more than six minutes.

Exercise 1: Chair Squat

The first exercise in Level II is the chair squat. This exercise primarily works the large muscles on the front of the thighs (the quadriceps) and the powerful muscles of your buttocks, commonly referred to as the glutes. 

Known as antigravity muscles, they work to oppose the effects of gravity and help you maintain an upright and balanced posture when standing. Exercising these muscles helps with essential activities like standing up from the toilet, getting out of bed, and getting out of a chair. Additionally, strengthening these muscles will improve your ability to walk and climb stairs.

Equipment

Required

  • A sturdy chair. The back of the chair should be against something solid like a wall, couch, or heavy table to prevent the chair from moving. The seat should be at the right height so that your knees are bent at about 90 degrees when you sit with your feet flat on the ground. You can put one or two small pillows to raise the seat if needed.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • One or two small pillows to raise the seat height.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • A sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items such as weights, books, canned goods, or similar items to increase resistance.

Performing the chair squat

Starting position

  • Sit on the front half of the seat with your feet back so that the front of your feet are underneath your knees, your feet are about hip-width apart (6–12 inches), your toes are pointing forward, and your arms are crossed in front of your chest.
  • Your knees should be bent to about 90 degrees in sitting with your feet touching the ground. If the seat is too low, you can adjust the height by placing pillows on the seat.

Movement to ending position

  • Lean forward at the waist to bring your nose over your toes, and stand up by pushing with your legs to a full upright standing position. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

You are standing upright with your feet about 6–12 inches apart, your toes pointing forward, and your arms crossed in front of your chest.

Return to starting position

Lower yourself back to the starting position with control by bending at the waist to bring your nose over your toes and reaching your hips back toward the seat. Be sure to sit back down completely.

Repetitions

Repeat the movement at a moderate pace up to 15 times.

Points to consider

  • Make sure to perform this exercise without using your arms to push up on the chair; in this way, you will train your legs to do the work. Older adults with weaker legs tend to go from sitting to standing using their arms for help. This habit prevents the leg muscles from being worked on, which is why I teach this exercise with the arms crossed in front of the chest.
  • Make sure your feet remain about hip-width apart (6–12 inches) with your toes pointing forward during this exercise. You may tend to move one or both feet out of this position, which can create muscle imbalances.
  • Make sure the chair didn’t move out of position before you sit down, as this can result in a fall and injury.

To decrease challenge

  • Use one or two pillows to increase the seat height. You can remove them to gradually lower the seat as you get stronger.
  • If you’re still having difficulty with this exercise even with pillows on the chair, you can place your hands on your knees to help push yourself up to the standing position. Pushing off your knees is different from pushing off the chair because your legs still get all the work.
  • If you’re still having difficulty with this exercise even with pushing off your knees, ask someone to assist you by having them stand in front of you. Grab on to their hands with your hands, and use your arms to help pull yourself up to the standing position. Gradually reduce the amount of help you need from your arms as you get stronger.

To increase challenge

Perform the exercise while wearing a sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items to increase the resistance.

Exercise 2: Heel Lift

The second exercise in Level II is the heel lift. This exercise primarily works the calf muscles on the back of the lower leg. These muscles are also antigravity muscles that oppose the effects of gravity to help you maintain an upright and balanced posture in standing.

Because these muscles help return circulating blood back to the heart, they are sometimes called your body’s “second heart.” Strong calf muscles serve better in this role to prevent or reduce swelling in the feet and to prevent blood clots from forming. 

Strong calf muscles are also important for daily activities, such as using the feet to push off and propel your body forward while walking, or standing on your tiptoes to reach up for something.

Equipment

Required

  • A sturdy chair. The back of the chair should be against something solid like a wall, couch, or heavy table to prevent the chair from moving. You will be performing this exercise with this chair behind you for safety in case you fall backwards.
  • A walker or a second chair with a high backrest placed in front of the first chair for balance.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • None.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • A sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items, such as weights, books, canned goods, or similar items to increase resistance.

Performing the heel lift

Starting position

  • Stand in front of the chair with your feet about hip-width apart (6–12 inches), your toes pointing forward, and your hands placed lightly on a walker or the backrest of a second chair for balance.

Movement to ending position

  • With your knees straight and without leaning forward, lift your heels off the floor. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • You are on your toes with your heels lifted off the floor. Your feet remain about 6–12 inches apart with your toes pointing forward and your knees straight. Hold for a half-second.

Return to starting position

  • Lower your heels back to the floor with control.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace up to 15 times.

Points to consider

  • You may tend to bend your knees when lifting the heels off the floor, which prevents your calf muscles from getting the work they need. So make sure to keep your knees straight throughout this exercise.
  • There can also be a tendency to lean forward, which also reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Make sure that your body is moving straight up and down throughout this exercise and that your hands are only lightly placed on the walker or the backrest of the second chair for balance.

To decrease challenge

  • If you’re not strong enough to lift your heels all the way up, lift them to wherever you can; you’ll get stronger over time.

To increase challenge

  • Perform the exercise while wearing a sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items to increase the resistance.
  • Take your hands off the walker or the backrest of the second chair to work on balance. I recommend hovering the hands an inch above the support so you can quickly grab it if you lose your balance.

Exercise 3: High Knees Marching

The third exercise in Level II is high knees marching. This exercise works the large antigravity muscles on the front of the thigh and the hip flexor muscles on the front of the hip that lift your legs from the ground.

Since weakness in the hip flexor muscles can make the legs feel heavy, resulting in dragging your feet while you walk and increasing the risk for falls, you need to strengthen these muscles. Strengthening the hip flexor muscles will make the legs feel lighter and help with picking up the feet to clear the ground. This exercise will improve your ability to walk longer distances, walk up an incline or on uneven surfaces, and climb stairs.

Equipment

Required

  • A sturdy chair. The back of the chair should be against something solid like a wall, couch, or heavy table to prevent the chair from moving. You will be performing this exercise with this chair behind you for safety in case you fall backwards.
  • A walker or a second chair with a high backrest placed in front of the first chair for balance.

To decrease challenge

  • None.

To increase challenge

  • Ankle weights.

Performing high knees marching

Starting position

  • Stand in front of the chair with your feet about hip-width apart (6–12 inches), your toes pointing forward, and your hands placed lightly on a walker or the backrest of a second chair for balance.
  • Your right leg is on the ground, and your left leg is lifted with hip and knee bent 90 degrees.
  • The walker or the second chair should be placed farther forward than in the heel lift, to make room for you to lift your knees.

Movement to ending position

Lower the left leg to the ground next to the right leg, and lift the right leg up in a marching motion until the hip and knee are 90 degrees. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • The right leg is lifted with hip and knee bent 90 degrees. The left leg is on the ground.

Return to starting position

  • Lower your right leg back to the ground, and lift your left leg back up to the starting position.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace up to 15 times on each side, taking alternating steps in place.

Points to consider

  • Make sure the lifted leg’s hip and knee are at 90 degrees in the ending position. The body should look like the letter h, or the shape of a chair, with your lower legs making the chair leg, your upper leg making the seat, and your body making the backrest. The tendency is to not lift the leg up high enough, which prevents your hip flexor muscles from working through most of their range of motion. The other tendency is to bend the knee too much when lifting, which prevents the hip flexors from getting the work they need.
  • Make sure the support in front of you is not too close. Otherwise, you may hit your knee on it when you lift your leg.

To decrease challenge

  • If you’re not strong enough to lift your leg all the way up, lift it to wherever you can; you’ll get stronger over time.

To increase challenge

  • Perform the exercise while wearing ankle weights to increase the resistance.
  • Take your hands off the walker or the second chair to work on balance. I recommend hovering the hands an inch above the support so that you can quickly grab it if you lose your balance.

In this section, you learned the nuts and bolts of performing Big Three Level II. The next section provides detailed instructions on how to perform Big Three Level III. Before proceeding, you should bear in mind that Level III is challenging; it’s best to stick with Level II if you have any back, hip, or knee issues.

Action Steps

  • If this is the right level for you, spend some time going through the steps of each exercise until the movement feels natural. Try to cultivate an experimental mindset, and slow things down to learn the movements correctly. It’s okay if your performance is less than perfect at first. Notice what “right” feels like in your body as you start to get the hang of each exercise.

Big Three Level III

This level is designed for older adults who are high functioning. This means they can walk at a vigorous pace for more than six minutes and can go up and down several flights of stairs with no difficulty.

This level is challenging, so it’s best to stick with Level II if you have any back, hip, or knee issues.

Exercise 1: Stationary Lunge

The first exercise in Level III is the stationary lunge. This exercise works the large quadriceps muscles on the front of the thighs and the powerful glute muscles of your buttocks. You will recall from previous levels that these are known as antigravity muscles because they work to oppose the effects of gravity, which helps you maintain an upright and balanced posture when standing.

The stationary lunge is a single-leg movement that works each side of your body independently. Single-leg movements are important because they help to correct the imbalances between the two sides of the body that exist in most people and activate your stabilizing muscles to develop balance, coordination, and stability.

Lunges are important for helping you get up from the ground, or any low surface, and are a great exercise to strengthen, sculpt, and tone your body while also improving overall fitness and enhancing athletic performance.

Equipment

Required

  • None.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • A sturdy table or countertop.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • A sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items such as weights, books, canned goods, or similar items to increase resistance.

Performing the stationary lunge

Starting position

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart (6–12 inches), your toes pointing forward, and your hands resting on your waist.
  • Take a big step forward with one leg (about 2–3 feet for most people). Ensure the toes of your front foot are pointed straight forward and the heel of your back foot is lifted off the floor.
  • Keep your back and upper body straight, and ensure that most of your weight is on the heel of your front foot.

Movement to ending position

  • Lower your body straight down until your front knee is at about a 90-degree angle and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • Your front knee is bent at about a 90-degree angle directly above your front ankle, and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Your back heel is lifted off the floor, and your back knee is lightly touching the floor.

Return to starting position

  • Return to the starting position by pushing through the heel of your front foot.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace on the same leg up to 15 times. Repeat this exercise on the opposite leg once you’ve completed your repetitions on one side.

Points to consider

  • To protect your front knee from injury, do not move it ahead of your front toes at any time during this exercise. If your knee does go over your toes, try lowering your body straight down during this exercise. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you may need to take a bigger step forward with the front leg.
  • Additionally, do not move your front knee inward toward the midline of your body during this exercise. It should stay aligned with the second and third toes of your front foot throughout the movement.

To decrease challenge

  • Stand in front of a sturdy table or countertop and place your hands on it for assistance.

To increase challenge

  • Perform the exercise while wearing a sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items to increase the resistance.

Exercise 2: Step-Up

The second exercise in Level III is the step-up. This exercise also works the antigravity muscles: the quadriceps in the thighs and the powerful glute muscles of your buttocks.

The step-up is a single-leg movement in standing that works each side of your body independently and activates your stabilizing muscles to develop balance, coordination, and stability.

The step-up works the same muscles as the stationary lunge, but at a different angle; this provides different benefits. While lunges will help you get up from the ground, or any low surface, step-ups will help you lift your body up a stair, incline, or any high surface. Step-ups are a great exercise to strengthen, sculpt, and tone your body while also improving overall fitness and enhancing athletic performance.

Equipment

Required

  • A step (8–24 inches).

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • A lower step (8–12 inches), like a single step in a staircase.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • A higher step (12–24 inches), like a sturdy chair.
  • A sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items such as weights, books, canned goods, or similar items to increase resistance.

Performing the step-up

Starting position

  • Stand with one foot on the step and the other foot on the ground below the step.
  • Make sure your feet are about hip-width apart (6–12 inches), your toes are pointing straight forward, and your hands are resting on your waist.

Movement to ending position

  • Lift your body up the step by pressing through the front foot until that leg is straight.
  • At the same time, lift your opposite leg up until the knee is about waist level. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • The leg that is on the step is straight, and the leg that is lifted is bent to about 90 degrees at the hips and knees.

Return to starting position

  • Lower your body back to the starting position by bringing the leg that is lifted back down to the ground and bending the knee of the leg that is on the step.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace on the same leg up to 15 times. Repeat this exercise on the opposite leg once you’ve completed your repetitions on one side.

Points to consider

To protect your front knee from injury, do not move it ahead of your front toes at any time during this exercise. If your knee does go in front of your toes, try keeping your body straight, and avoid leaning too far forward as you lift your body during this exercise.

Additionally, do not move your front knee inward toward the midline of your body during this exercise. It should stay aligned with the second and third toes of your front foot throughout the movement.

To decrease challenge

  • Use a lower step (8–12 inches), as a single step in a staircase. Gradually work your way up to a higher step as you get stronger.
  • Place one hand on a wall or a rail for balance.

To increase challenge

  • Use a higher step (12–24 inches), like a sturdy chair.
  • Perform the exercise while wearing a sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items to increase the resistance.

Exercise 3: Single-Leg Heel Lift

The third exercise in Level III is the single-leg heel lift. This exercise primarily works the muscles on the back of the lower leg called the calf muscles. Like the quadriceps and glutes, these muscles are also antigravity muscles that help you maintain an upright and balanced posture when standing.

Because they help to return circulating blood back to the heart, the calf muscles are sometimes called your body’s “second heart.” Strong calf muscles serve better in this role to prevent or reduce swelling in the feet and also prevent blood clots from forming. 

Strong calf muscles are also important for daily activities, such as using the feet to push off and propel your body forward while walking, or standing on your tiptoes to reach for something.

Equipment

Required

  • A step.
  • A wall or rail that you can place your hands on for balance.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • None.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • A sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items such as weights, books, canned goods, or similar items to increase resistance.

Performing the single-leg heel lift

Starting position

  • Stand with the ball of one foot on the edge of the step and your heel off the edge. Your toes are pointed straight forward, and your knee is straight.
  • The opposite leg is hanging freely off the edge of the step, and one hand is lightly placed on a wall or rail for balance.
  • Lower your body by dropping the heel of the foot that’s on the step while keeping your knee straight.

Movement to ending position

  • With your knee straight, lift your heel up high without leaning forward. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • You are on your toes with your heels lifted up high. Your toes remain pointed straight forward with your knee straight.

Return to starting position

  • Lower your heel back to the starting position with control.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace on the same leg up to 15 times. Repeat this exercise on the opposite leg once you’ve completed your repetitions on one side.

Points to consider

  • You may tend to bend the knee when lifting the heel up, preventing your calf muscle from getting the work it needs. Make sure to keep your knee straight throughout this exercise.
  • You may tend to lean forward when lifting the heel up, which also prevents your calf muscle from getting the work it needs. Make sure that your body is moving straight up and down throughout this exercise.

To decrease challenge

If you’re not strong enough to lift your heel all the way up, lift it as far as you can; you’ll get stronger over time.

To increase challenge

Perform the exercise while wearing a sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items to increase the resistance.

In this section, you learned the nuts and bolts of performing Big Three Level III. The next section provides detailed instructions for Big Three Level IV.

Action Steps

If this is the right level for you, spend some time going through the steps of each exercise until the movement feels natural. Try to cultivate an experimental mindset, and slow things down to learn the movements correctly. It’s okay if your performance is less than perfect at first. Notice what “right” feels like in your body as you start to get the hang of each exercise.

Big Three Level IV

Level IV consists of upper body exercises designed for older adults after they have completed eight weeks of Level II or Level III lower-body training.

I recommend exclusively working your lower body in the beginning because healthy, strong hips and legs are what allow you to safely stand upright and to walk—in other words, to be self-sufficient. While having a weak upper body can be inconvenient, a weak lower body negatively impacts your overall quality of life more.

After eight weeks of exclusively working your lower body, start working your upper body once daily using the exercises in this chapter. In other words, continue exercising your lower body and add the upper body exercises to your routine. Ideally, you would work your upper body immediately after you work your lower body.

This is the only level at which you will exercise only once daily.

Exercise 1: One-Arm Bent Row

The first exercise in Level IV is the one-arm bent row. This exercise primarily works the large muscles of your upper and middle back and the biceps muscle at the front of your upper arm.

Poor posture is often due to weakness in our back muscles. This weakness can cause a rounding of our upper spine, resulting in the classic “hunched over” appearance. The one-arm row helps to strengthen and stabilize nearly all the muscles involved in maintaining an upright posture without causing much strain on your lower back.

Equipment

Required

  • A sturdy table or countertop.
  • A weight, such as a dumbbell or ankle weight; sturdy backpack loaded with heavy items; or anything with resistance that you can hold in your hand.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • A lighter resistance.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • A heavier resistance.

Performing the one-arm bent row

Starting position

  • Stand in front of a sturdy table or countertop, bending about 45 degrees forward at your waist with your back straight. One hand should be supporting you on the table or counter, and the elbow of that supporting arm should be straight. With your other hand, hold the weight or backpack hanging naturally down toward the ground.
  • Your feet should be in a staggered stance, with the foot on the same side as the supporting arm forward, and the foot on the same side as the arm holding the weight or backpack one to two feet backward.
  • Keep your body stable by tightening your abdominal muscles.

Movement to ending position

  • Pull the weight or backpack up to the side of your body below your chest. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • Your body should remain stable with your abdominal muscles tight and the arm holding the weight or backpack at the side of your body below your chest. Hold for a half-second.

Return to starting position

  • Lower your arm back to the starting position with control.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace on the same arm up to 15 times. Repeat this exercise on the opposite arm once you’ve completed your repetitions on one side.

Points to consider

  • Make sure your back is straight while performing this exercise. The tendency is to round the back instead of bending at the waist.
  • You can place more of your body weight on the arm that is supporting you on the table or countertop if you have low back problems.

To decrease challenge

  • Use a lighter resistance.

To increase challenge

  • Use a heavier resistance.

Exercise 2: Floor Press

The second exercise in Level IV is the floor press. This exercise primarily works the large muscles of your chest and your triceps muscle at the back of your upper arm without causing much strain on your shoulders.

The floor press helps with daily activities, such as pushing shopping carts and heavy doors. If you happen to take a fall, you’ll have an easier time pushing yourself off the ground. This exercise is also beneficial for sports such as swimming, tennis, and golf.

You’ll be performing the floor press while lying on your back. I recommend performing this exercise on a firm surface, but a softer bed or couch will work if that is not available. Lying on the floor is okay if you don’t have any issues getting back up.

Equipment

Required

  • A pair of weights, such as dumbbells, ankle weights, or jugs of water (with handles); sturdy backpacks loaded with heavy items; or anything with resistance that you can hold in your hands.

To decrease challenge (optional)

  • A lighter resistance.

To increase challenge (optional)

  • A heavier resistance.

Performing the floor press

Starting position

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the surface while holding a weight in each hand.
  • Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and resting on the surface with the weights above your chest.
  • Keep your body stable by tightening your abdominal muscles.

Movement to ending position

  • Push the weights up until your arms are straight but not locked out. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

Your body should remain stable with your abdominal muscles tight, the weights above your chest, and the arms straight but not locked out. Hold for a half-second.

Return to starting position

Lower your arms back to the starting position with control.

Repetitions

Repeat the movement at a moderate pace up to 15 times.

Points to consider

  • Make sure that your elbows are straight but not locked in the ending position. Locking the elbow will take the work off the muscles.
  • Also, make sure you don’t arch backwards with your trunk during this exercise. You might need to lower the resistance if you’re having a difficult time avoiding this.

To decrease challenge

  • Use a lighter resistance.

To increase challenge

  • Use a heavier resistance.

Exercise 3: Shoulder Y-Raise

The third exercise in Level IV is the shoulder Y-raise. This exercise primarily works the muscles in your shoulders, which are important for any activity that involves raising your upper arms. It also works the deep rotator cuff muscles that stabilize and protect your shoulders from injury.

This exercise improves the ability to perform daily activities, such as reaching overhead to grab something from a high cupboard or lifting heavy grandchildren, with greater ease.

Equipment

Required

A pair of weights, such as dumbbells, ankle weights, jugs of water (with handles); sturdy backpacks loaded with heavy items; or anything else with resistance that you can hold in your hands.

To decrease challenge

  • A lighter resistance.

To increase challenge

  • A heavier resistance.

Performing the shoulder Y-raise

Starting position

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the pair of weights in your hands, arms hanging by your side, and palms facing inwards toward your body.
  • Keep your body stable by tightening your abdominal muscles.

Movement to ending position

  • Lift the weights to shoulder height with your thumbs up, elbows straight, and arms at about a 30-degree angle in front of your body such that your arms form a Y shape in front of your chest. Make sure to breathe throughout the movement.

Ending position

  • Your body should remain stable with your abdominal muscles tight. Your arms are at shoulder height with your thumbs up, elbows straight, and arms at about a 30-degree angle in front of your body, forming a Y shape in front of your chest. Hold for a half-second.

Return to starting position

  • Lower your arms to the starting position with control.

Repetitions

  • Repeat the movement at a moderate pace up to 15 times.

Points to consider

  • Make sure you raise the arms at about a 30-degree angle in front of your body. An easy way to understand this is by holding your arms straight out to the sides and then moving them slightly together in front of your body like you’re giving a hug to a giant tree. This position is optimal for exercising your rotator cuff muscles.
  • Make sure you lift with your thumbs up. The thumb-up position creates more space inside the shoulder joint during this movement, which reduces the likelihood of causing painful jamming.
  • Make sure to lift your arms no higher than the level of your shoulders. When you raise your arms higher than this, other muscles you don’t want to use get involved. Also, make sure you don’t hike up your shoulders or arch backwards with your trunk during this exercise. You might need to lower the resistance if you’re having a difficult time avoiding this.

To decrease challenge

  • Use a lighter resistance.

To increase challenge

  • Use a heavier resistance.

Action Steps

Spend some time going through the steps of each exercise until the movement feels natural. Take an experimental mindset, and slow things down to learn the movements correctly. It’s okay if your performance is not perfect at first. Notice what “right” feels like in your body as you start to get the hang of each exercise.

Do You Have to Take Supplements With Home Workout?

Some people might use natural fat burners as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to increase metabolism or decrease appetite. When combined with a healthy diet, it will further increase the loss of excess body fat – and may also have other beneficial effects.

Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.

Besides, it should be noted that supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. Pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise.

In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.

Leave a Comment