This is a 14-week program that incorporates elements of my program for every week for you to practice and build into your existing routine. If you currently aren’t doing anything, this is the perfect time for you to start. This is a long post and not necessarily meant to be read fully, all at once, but rather bookmark this page and plan to refer back to it as you make progress each week. You’ll need time to learn each move before moving on to more complex activities.
Level 1 of my program is titled, “Learn How to Move Better So You Can Get Stronger.” Over the next few weeks, you’ll learn the exercises in the first section of Level 1, 10 dynamic flexibility exercises that will improve functional range of motion, balance, and stability.
The levels of this program are an exact representation of the progression that I have used as a personal trainer with all of my clients over the better part of the past 2 decades, a progression that has a proven track record of improving people’s fitness level. Regardless of what a person has done before they come to me, or if they have worked with another personal trainer, if they want to work with me they have to start at the beginning.
I treat everyone like a beginner. This may seem harsh, but in order to ensure that clients get the most out of my program, I don’t take anything for granted. In my experience as a personal trainer, people who train by themselves or who have employed other trainers cannot perform many of the basic movements that I include in Level 1 of my program. I have had people protest this “rule” of mine, but I explain that the customer isn’t always right.
The levels of the program are broken into 3 sections; dynamic flexibility, functional movements, and strength training exercise.
The dynamic flexibility movements will improve range of motion, balance, and stability, and help to strengthen the muscles of your hips, lower back, abdominal region, buttocks, and thighs – your core – because this kind of stretching is done standing. The functional movements combine flexibility work with movement and strength elements, and are typically done without weights. Some of the functional movements that you will learn to do in the second and third levels will be the most difficult and challenging moves in the entire program. The strength training exercises will help to make you stronger – duh! – and serve as the perfect compliments to the flexibility and functional moves. All three of these elements have the combined effect of teaching you to move better so that you can get stronger, and as a result, “fitter.”
Most programs – most personal trainers – make the mistake of having people use weights right off of the bat. This is a move that makes the process of teaching people and getting people into shape, more difficult than it has to be. People need to learn how to move properly before they start lifting weights.
Using this free exercise program will be like having your own personal trainer.
This week you’ll learn to do the next 3 moves in the Dynamic Flexibility section of Level 1 of my free online personal training program, The Program to Improve Your Fitness. These 3 upper body flexibility exercises will improve the range of motion and serve as a great warm-up activity.
In week 2 of Level 1 of my program you’ll learn how to do the Open Arm and Open Chest stretches as well as the Windmill stretches. These moves will improve range of motion in the shoulders and serve to warm up the muscles of the upper body.
For the past 20 years as a personal trainer and strength coach I have used these moves in my routine and in the routines of my clients, and I can attest to their effectiveness. Take the time to learn how to correctly perform these moves.
The purpose of Level 1 is for you to learn how to move better so that you can get stronger, and these upper body flexibility exercises will help to improve range of motion, which is a key component to proper movement. These exercises will also become a regular part of your warm up/flexibility routine regardless of your fitness level.
The elements of this free online training program will combine to improve your strength, balance, flexibility, agility and stability so don’t skip any of these free instructional fitness videos or take any of the seemingly simple movements for granted; all of these exercises are important as they complement each other.
This week you’ll learn to do the first 3 lower body moves in the Dynamic Flexibility section of Level 1 of my free online personal training program, The Program to Improve Your Fitness. These 3 lower body flexibility exercises can improve range of motion, balance, and stability, and serve as a great warm-up activity.
This week, week 3 of Level 1 of my free online personal training program, you will learn how to do the first 3 lower body dynamic flexibility movements, ankle rocks, knee-to-chest and heel-to-butt. These 3 moves will improve flexibility and range of motion from the lower back down to the toes, while helping to develop balance, stability and coordination.
As a personal trainer and strength coach I use these moves with all of my private training clients and with all of the teams that I work with. These flexibility moves are among the most effective exercises that you can do, and will improve your overall fitness level.
The goal of Level 1 is to teach you how to move better so that you can get stronger, and you will need to take a little more time to learn new moves as they get more difficult. This week with these 3 rather difficult lower body stretches – it’s tough to work on improving your balance – you will need to be patient and take your time as you review the video and practice the moves.
These 3 moves will go a long way to helping you improve your fitness level, and are an integral part of my free online training program. Remember not to skip any of these free instructional fitness videos and don’t take any of the movements for granted; all of these exercises are important as they complement each other.
This week you’ll learn the final 2 exercises in the Dynamic Flexibility section of Level 1 of my free online personal training program, The Program to Improve Your Fitness.
In week 4 of my free online personal training program you’ll learn how to perform the standing hip and the standing hip and hamstring stretch, 2 of the more challenging dynamic flexibility exercises. As a result, you will have completed the first section of my program and are ready to progress onto the Functional Exercises section.
The 10 dynamic flexibility exercises have improved your range of motion, balance and stability and overall fitness level, and have prepared your body for the demands of the functional moves.
Take your time with this week’s moves as balance is a key component to being able to properly perform the standing hip and the standing him and hamstring stretch. The goal of Level 1 of my free online personal training program is to teach you how to move better so that you can get stronger, and these moves contribute mightily to the cause.
Including this week’s lesson, you now have learned 10 dynamic flexibility moves. You should incorporate these moves into every workout, as I do in my workouts and with my personal training clients. As you improve your fitness level and move onto more complex exercises, you will continue to use these exercises in your routine.
Make sure to refer back to the previous videos and review all 10 exercises. By now you should be able to perform all of the dynamic flexibility moves and you should also work on committing the proper order to memory.
Next week you will start on the Functional Exercises and most of the moves will probably be familiar. However, during this section of my free online training program you will learn how to do push-ups the right way, and also learn how to combine these functional exercises and calisthenics to provide you with a challenging workout. After you learn the 5 functional exercises you will most definitely be in better shape than you were before you started the program.
If you follow the proper progression for the program, which is easy since all you have to do is follow along with the regular updates, you will reap the benefits of having your own personal trainer.
This week you’ll be introduced to the concept of Functional Exercises and learn the proper way to perform jumping jacks in my free exercise program.
Welcome to the first week of the Functional Exercises section of my free online exercise program, The Program to Improve Your Fitness. Functional exercises combine flexibility, strength, and balance work, with more movement than is needed to perform the dynamic flexibility exercises, and as a result, provide a potent stimulus to improve your fitness. This week you’ll learn how to do jumping jacks.
Functional Exercise section of this free online exercise program you will learn how to perform the fundamental calisthenics exercises; jumping jacks, slow-motion squat thrusts, leg drives/mountain climbers, sit-ups, and push-ups. Real push-ups. As a personal trainer and strength coach, I use these calisthenics as a regular part of my client’s workouts and rely on them in my own workouts as well. Over the next few weeks, you will learn to appreciate what these exercises can do to improve your fitness level.
I have mentioned over the past several weeks that you need to treat this early stage of the program more as practice and less as exercise. Trust me, by the end of this section of my free exercise program, you will have enough exercises in your arsenal to provide you with a very challenging workout. Just take your time and practice these new exercises and make sure that you are performing them with the proper form. You will get more out of this free exercise program if you are patient.
The calisthenics exercises that you will learn over the next few weeks offer a powerful cardiovascular workout and will improve your fitness level without subjecting your body to damaging impact forces. By the end of this section of my free exercise program, you will know how to get a great cardiovascular workout in a fraction of the amount of time that many people spend jogging.
The progression that I have laid out here, is the exact same path that I provide for my personal training clients and is the most efficient and effective way to both learn these exercises and to implement these exercises in a training program.
Slow-motion squat thrusts and leg drives are on the menu in the sixth week of my free online exercise program.
So here we are and it’s already week 6 of my free online exercise program, The Program To Improve Your Fitness. We’re pretty halfway through the program and you’ll be learning 2 extremely effective functional exercises, exercises that can do more to improve your fitness level than just about any other exercises; slow motion squat thrusts (aka one-leg-at-a-time squat thrusts) and leg drives (aka mountain climbers). Squat thrusts – and all its variations – are some of the best exercises that you can do, so pay attention and practice.
As I’ve mentioned every week, I use these exercises in my workouts and in the workouts of my personal training clients. By following the instructions that I lay out in the video you will be able to get all of the benefits these exercises have to offer, the same benefits my personal training clients get. Can I say, “Be patient,” again?
This is the second week of the Functional Exercises section and you’re getting closer to the point where you will be doing more actual working out. You’ll still need to view these sessions as practice, but you’ll be practicing more difficult moves.
You will learn the more difficult versions of the squat thrusts as you progress through the different levels of the program, but for now make sure you’re totally comfortable performing the slow motion variety – just get good at doing them. Squat thrusts will improve your cardiovascular fitness, develop strength, and improve range of motion. The leg drives are a simple yet effective exercise that will improve your cardiovascular conditioning and help to strengthen the muscles of your trunk.
Trust the progression. This is the same path that my personal training clients have followed and it works for them. It’ll work for you even without me standing over you in my best personal trainer stance.
Week 7 & 8
This week it’s all about push-ups, real push-ups. This is the only way to learn how to do real push-ups, and my way doesn’t involve modified push-ups, equipment or silly gimmicks.
This is one of the more important weeks in The Program To Improve Your Fitness, my free online exercise program, because this is the week you will learn the proper way to do push-ups. If you can’t do real push-ups I promise that by the time I’m done with you, you be banging out sets of 10 repetitions with regularity. This lesson is so important that you’ll have two full weeks to work on it before I give you any new exercises.
My progression doesn’t involve modified push-ups – aka “girl’s push-ups” – equipment or any gimmicks. This is the same method that I use with my personal training clients. I’ll show you how to perform real push-ups, and if you can’t do them I’ll show you different methods that you can use to develop the strength necessary to do push-ups. If you can do real push-ups, the elements of my progression will help to improve your form.
If there ever was a week where practice is important, it’s this week with the push-ups. A picture is worth a thousand words and the push-up video is worth 10 times that. So I’m going to save my breath and leave you to watch the video and get to work.
You’ve had 3 weeks to practice your push-ups, now it’s time to learn how to do sit-ups. Check out the latest video in my free online exercise program.
Over the past 20+ years few exercises have been demonized as much as the sit-up. As a result, the sit-ups impotent cousin – the crunch – was born. Because the sit-up was performed improperly and/or people did them before they were physically strong enough, many personal trainers and other fitness professionals erroneously thought the sit-up was bad for the back. Not so.
But this isn’t the time for a history of the sit-up. Rather, it is time for you to learn the right way to do sit-ups so that you stop wasting time and effort with crunches, and all of the variations.
Watch the video, and follow the learning points presented here, in week 9 of my free online exercise program, The Program to Improve Your Fitness.
To perform proper sit-ups:
Lie flat on ground with heels pushing into mat and feet slightly apart
Cross arms across chest and place hands on shoulder
To initiate the movement contract abdominal muscles as if doing a crunch, but continue to move and sit up.
When sitting up, do so under control and not abruptly making the effort to keep hands on shoulders throughout the move, while maintaining good posture
On the way down to the starting position, hold abs tight and control the movement until shoulders touch the mat
Repeat for 5-10 repetitions, making sure not to bounce or use momentum to sit up
To modify the sit-up – if you cannot do a complete rep – have a training partner apply light pressure to the lower shins, or place your feet under a stable piece of furniture
This is the same progression that I have used with my personal training clients for 20 years, and I can say from experience that this is the way to learn how to do proper sit-ups.
This week I introduce the final section of level 1 of my free online exercise program – The Program to Improve Your Fitness – the strength training exercises.
If you’ve been following along with the program you’re ready to learn the 5 strength-training exercises that are included in this, the final section of level 1 of my free online exercise program, The Program to Improve Your Fitness.
The 5 exercises that you will learn over the next few weeks are step-ups, military/overhead press, standing dumbbell row, biceps curl and triceps extension. These exercises serve to compliment the work that you’ve done during the Dynamic Flexibility and Functional Exercises sections.
Actually, you’ve already done all of the hard work for this level. You’ve learned how to move properly – at least you’ve started to improve how you move – which will make it much easier for you to perform these weight-training exercises.
A common misconception is that lifting weights is difficult. The truth is many people – trainers and gym rats alike – make lifting weights more difficult than it needs to be by lifting weights before they are ready. If you do the dirty work, the real hard work – the work you’ve done by learning the exercises during the first 2 sections of the program – weight lifting is the easy part.
So you’ve improved your level of conditioning, you’ve started to improve the way you move and now you’re ready to move on to the final part of level 1. So take one more week and review what you’ve learned over the past 2 and a half months, and next week when you come back to the site you’ll find the first video in the strength training section.
This week you’ll learn how to do step-ups, one of the best exercises that you can do. Check out the latest video in my free online exercise program.
Step-ups are a great exercise that everybody, no matter their fitness level, should include in their workout routine. Substitute step-ups for leg extensions, leg curls, the leg press and other machine-based leg exercises, as step-ups are a much more efficient and effective way to train.
Rather than break down and train the muscles of the lower body as if they were isolated, component parts – what you do when you use machines – perform step-ups. When doing step-ups all of the muscles in your body must work together to produce movement, and as a result you get a much more efficient workout. The balance and stability demands placed on the body while doing step-ups are much greater than any machine-based exercises, and as a result step-ups are a much more challenging exercise.
Including step-ups in your routine, along with other ground-based compound movements like lunges and squats – that you will learn later in the program – will provide you with the best workout possible. These exercises have served as the basis for the training programs that I use with my personal training clients – and for myself – for the past 20 years and I can attest to the incredibly effective nature of these movements.
Step-ups an effective exercise that are extremely easy to learn. So watch the video and get started on the first exercise in the strength training section of my free online exercise program.
This week you’ll learn the proper way to perform dumbbell military press, the first upper-body strength training exercise in my free online exercise program.
The military press is the best exercise to build upper-body strength. Long before people fell in love with the bench press, “militaries” were the exercises that men used to measure their upper-body strength. As a personal trainer and strength coach, the military press is the exercise that I use to measure my clients’ upper-body strength.
As opposed to the bench press, the military press – also called the overhead press – requires that you provide your own balance and stability rather than rely on a piece of equipment to do so. The military press is a fantastic functional, ground-based, compound movement that is one of the most efficient and effective strength training exercises that there is. Athletes and non-athletes alike will reap the benefits from including the military press in their strength training routine.
I use dumbbells for the military press in the video clip that is part of my continuing, free online exercise program, but the exercise can be done with a barbell, kettlebells, logs, heavy stones, sand bags and other traditional and non-traditional kinds of resistance. Incorporate military presses in your routine to improve your upper-body strength.
By the way, adjustable dumbbells are a great investment for any home gym, as one pair of 50-pound adjustable dumbbells is like having nine pairs of conventional dumbbells.
The military press is a simple exercise to learn so review the video clip and get started.
This week you’ll learn the last two exercises in Level 1 of my free online exercise program, biceps curls and triceps extensions.
Biceps curls and triceps extensions are the last two exercises that you will learn in Level 1 of The Program to Improve Your Fitness, my free online exercise program. These simple exercises are appropriate for beginners and compliment the other exercises that you’ve learn so far.
As a personal trainer I’ve used this program for the better part of the past two decades and have found that it to be very effective in improving my clients’ fitness level. If you’ve been following along for the entire 13 installments, you are no doubt in better shape, can move better, have improved your flexibility and balance, and have laid a foundation that can help to get you stronger.
Level 1 of my program has prepared you for the more difficult moves that you will encounter in Level 2. Take the next few weeks to review all the videos in Level 1 and in early October, the videos for the next level will appear on the site.
Now get to work! An adjustable dumbbell set can provide you with great flexibility for your workouts.
This time when I say this is the last exercise in Level 1 of my free online exercise program, I mean it. This week – the real last week of Level 1 – you’ll learn how to do the standing dumbbell row.
I don’t know how it happened, but I let the standing dumbbell row slip my mind, and forgot to provide this clip in the order that I had planned. But as the old saying goes, “Better late than never.”
As a personal trainer and in my own training, I prefer the standing dumbbell row rather than the traditional dumbbell row exercise, in which you use a bench for stability, because the standing row requires that you provide your own stability. This is always better.
In the standing position, more demand is placed on the muscles of the trunk, especially the midsection. When you try this exercise, you will feel the stress of maintaining the proper position in your abdominal muscles. The standing dumbbell row is a great example of why ground-based exercises are more demanding, and as a result more effective than the alternatives.
The standing dumbbell row is a great exercise to develop strength in the muscles of the back and is more efficient than the traditional dumbbell row that is performed using a bench for stability.
Thanks to the hard work that you’ve put in over the duration of this first level of my program you are in better shape and are ready to handle the rigors of future levels of my program. Keep working on the Level 1 exercises and your fitness level will continue to improve.
Think about adding a pair of adjustable dumbbells to your home gym.