HOW ARE YOU going to approach the next year? Will you take it easy, sitting back and letting life happen to you? Or are you ready to get active, taking opportunities to make the most of your time and energy to improve your quality of life, putting the focus on health and making the best version of you possible?
Set the tone for your 2023 gains with this year-opening seven-move workout, which lays down foundational muscle where your body needs it most (back, core, glutes)—and teaches you the moves you’ll use to chase any fitness goal, from more muscle and strength to better movement when you want to spend time with your loved ones.
Directions: Do this workout 3 or 4 days a week, resting at least 1 day between sessions. On all rest days, aim to go for a 20-minute walk or run.
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Start in pushup position. Shift your right foot just outside your right hand; squeeze your left glute as you do this. Reach your right hand toward the ceiling. Reverse the movements to return to the start, then repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep. Do reps for 60 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Do 3 sets.
Stand holding a dumbbell at your chest, abs and glutes tight. Push your butt back and bend at the knees, lowering your torso until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stand and squeeze your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 12. You’re honing your ability to bend at the knee, which is key for athleticism (and keeps you ready for backyard games of tag, too).
Staggered-Stance Romanian Deadlift
Stand holding dumbbells at your hips. Step your right foot back so that its front aligns with the back of your left foot. Lift your right heel, shifting your weight onto your left leg. This is the start. Keeping the weights close to your shins, push your butt back and lower your torso. Stop when your torso is nearly parallel to the floor
or when you feel your hamstrings tighten, whichever comes first. Stand back up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 10 per side. You’re building glute strength, which will protect your lower back and help you jump higher.
Alternating Shoulder Press
Stand holding dumbbells at your shoulders, abs and glutes tight. Press the left dumbbell overhead. Lower it back to your shoulder. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 12, building shoulder strength and challenging your abs to stabilize your spine.
Do both of these exercises back-to-back. Do 3 sets.
4A. Chest-Supported Row
Lie with your chest on a bench set to a 30 degree incline. Hold dumbbells in both hands, arms hanging naturally. Squeeze your shoulder blades. This is the start. Row the dumbbells toward your rib cage. Pause, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 10. You’ll build back muscle between your shoulder blades, readying you to pull open doors or win any tug-of-war match.
4B. Single-Arm Bench Press
Lie with your back on a bench, abs and glutes tight. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, directly above your right shoulder. Bend at the shoulder and elbow, lowering the dumbbell to your chest; keep your elbow close to your torso as you do this. Press back up. That’s 1 rep; do 10 per side. You’re not just developing chest muscle; you’re training your muscles to push away from your body.
Stand holding dumbbells at your sides, abs and glutes tight, palms facing each other. Curl the right dumbbell to your chest, turning your palm to face your chest as you do. Lower with control and repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 15, strengthening your arms and supercharging your ability to grip steering wheels and grocery bags.
Get in pushup position, abs and glutes tight, a dumbbell just outside your right hand. Without letting your hips shift, reach over to the dumbbell with your left hand. Grab it and place it just outside your left shoulder. Return to pushup position. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep; do 15, training your abs to brace against anything, whether it’s a punch to your gut or your kids jumping on your stomach while you try to nap.
A version of this story originally appears in the January 2023 issue of Men’s Health, with the title “THE TOTAL-BODY TUNE-UP.”
David Otey, CSCS is a fitness writer, NYC-based strength coach, and Men’s Health Advisory Board member who specializes in strength and hypertrophy protocols as well as athletic performance. For more on Otey check out www.oteyfitness.com.