This 4-Move Body-Weight Workout Helps You Stretch and Strengthen at the Same Time

illustrated gif of exercises in body-weight stretch and strengthening workout
Stretching your muscles can help relieve physical and emotional tension.
Image Credit: Morit Summers/LIVESTRONG.com Creative

This 31-day body-weight workout challenge will inspire you to move more, no matter your starting point. Get all the details on the challenge here.

Even if you have the world's biggest, strongest muscles (hello, Hulk), if they're not also flexible, you'll be limited in what you can do.

"Many people feel tightness, but it's likely because many of our muscles just need to be used," says Morit Summers, CPT, creator of Brooklyn-based training studio Form Fitness and host of our "New Year, Do You" Challenge. "Most people just need to move more, use their muscles more and sweat a little bit to feel their best."

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She created this workout to seamlessly blend stretching into strength exercises. If you're doing the challenge, follow the weekly rep scheme below. If you're doing this workout on your own, increase or decrease the reps and sets based on your fitness level. You should be able to do all the reps with good form, but the last two should feel challenging.

Reps and Sets Per Exercise

Sets

Lateral Lunge

Bird Dog

Side Plank

Crab Bridge

Week 1

2

10/side

5/side

20 sec/side

6

Week 2

3

10/side

6/side

30 sec/side

8

Week 3

3

10/side

6/side

30 sec/side

10

Week 4

4

12/side

5/side

45 sec/side

10

4 Body-Weight Moves to Stretch and Strengthen

The "New Year, Do You" Challenge is accessible to all fitness levels. That's why we're providing a main move and at least one modification or variation.

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In the videos below, you'll see one trainer — either Summers or her Form Fitness co-founder Francine Delgado-Lugo — demonstrating the base exercise along with a modification or variation from the other trainer. Choose the version of the exercise that works best for you.

Move 1: Lateral Lunge (shown on left)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. From standing, root your left foot into the ground and step your right foot out to the side (shown on the left).
  2. Bend your right knee, keeping it in line with your right foot, and push your hips back. You can have your hands on your hips or hanging on either side of your bent leg.
  3. Push off your right leg and return to standing.
  4. Complete all your reps on one side before switching legs.

Modifications and Variations

To take things up a notch, add a knee lift at the end, contracting your lower abs at the top as you balance on one foot (shown on the right).

Move 2: Bird Dog (shown on left)

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Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. As Delgado-Lugo demonstrates on the left, start on your hands and knees with your hands directly in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.
  2. On an exhale, reach your right arm straight out in front of you until your upper arm is in line with your ear.
  3. Simultaneously reach your left leg straight behind you, fully extending your knee.
  4. Pause here for a moment before reversing the motion, crunching your knee into your elbow to complete one rep.
  5. Finish all your reps on one side before switching.

Modifications and Variations

For an added challenge, lift your knees off the ground and hover there as you move one limb at a time, tapping either your hand or foot a few inches behind or in front of you (shown on the right).

Move 3: Side Plank (shown on right)

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Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Lie on your side with your legs and feet stacked on top of each other, just like Summers (right).
  2. Prop yourself up on your forearm.
  3. Keeping your knees straight, engage your abs and lift your hips off the ground, balancing on your forearm and bottom foot. Place your other hand on your hip or extend it up toward the ceiling.
  4. Hold for the given amount of time, then slowly lower back down.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Modifications and Variations

To make this move a little easier, drop to your knees while you hold a side plank (shown on the left).

Move 4: Crab Bridge (shown on left)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Full Body
  1. Following Delgado-Lugo (left), sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Plant your palms on the sides of your hips.
  2. Press your hands and heels into the ground and lift your hips up into a reverse tabletop position, squeezing your glutes. Keep your spine neutral.
  3. Keeping your feet and palms planted, drop your hips toward the ground.

Modifications and Variations

For a variation, add a reach at the top of every bridge (shown on the right). When you press all the way up, reach one hand over your head as you look toward the ceiling. Alternate arms with each rep.

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

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