Fitness Tips

Start Your New Year Off Strong With This Core-Centric, Equipment-Free Movement Plan

Ashley Joi

Photo: W+G Creative
This isn’t your standard New Year’s plan. No restrictive diets, no weekly weigh-ins, no “whole new you” for this new year—because, hey, you’re pretty great already. These four expert-led plans—designed to help you move your body, eat more veggies, get a better night’s sleep, or show yourself some loving care—are all about developing healthy habits that better align with your goals. Get the Program

You don’t need a new year to start a fitness routine: Any time is the right time to choose to move your body. Even doing something small every day—whether that’s five minutes of core work or a 25-minute walk—can be beneficial for your health and longevity. It’s in this spirit that I’ve put together a four-week back-to-basics, bodyweight workout plan filled with bite-sized sessions that easily fit into your day.

Performing bodyweight exercises, those that don’t require weights or equipment, can help you to properly engage your muscles and find alignment within your body (and, bonus, you only need enough space to lay your mat). Without added weights, you’re better able to focus on how your body is moving, which can clue you in to weakness, tightness, or instability in your muscles as you get stronger.

With workouts ranging from five minutes to 35 minutes and low-impact modifications provided for each exercise, everyone is encouraged to sweat with this plan.

We’re not re-inventing the wheel—we’ll still be doing your usual push-ups, planks, and lunges—but my hope is that in doing it together, we can make those basic moves feel exciting. And with workouts ranging from five minutes to 35 minutes and low-impact modifications provided for each exercise, everyone is encouraged to sweat with this plan, regardless of where you are on your fitness journey.

The biggest advice I give to people is simply to have fun, and to remember that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it can’t still be enjoyable. Embrace the awkwardness of learning a new move, embrace the soreness that comes from pushing yourself harder, and remember that the whole point of this program is to feel strong and empowered—one day at a time. Are you ready? Let’s get started.

Follow along below for the first week of workouts, and check back next Sunday for the next week's plan.

Day 1: Go for a walk or run (15 to 20 mins)

On day one, the most important thing is to just get moving, so we’ll ease into our plan with a little choose-your-own-adventure-style cardio. I suggest  challenging yourself to walk run for 15 to 20 minutes. No matter how fast (or slow!) you go, running has been shown to boost your mood, strengthen your bones, reduce your risk of heart disease, and improve your sleep.

And if pounding the pavement isn’t your thing? Choose another heart-rate-spiking activity you enjoy—whether that means walking, biking, dancing, or something totally different. No matter what you decide to do, just be sure you’re dedicating part of your day to fitness.

Day 2: Total core workout (5 mins)

Since we call on our core muscles for nearly every movement we make—both on and off the mat—focusing on them will help get your body into alignment, making it easier to achieve proper form in your other exercises. And by tackling a core workout early in the week, you'll be able to keep these muscles top-of-mind even when we move on to targeting muscles in your upper and lower body later on.

This particular series is filled with planks, and while they may feel brutal at times, the payoff will be worth it. I’m a big advocate of strengthening your abs (and then some) through planks, because they’re full-body exercises that work your core, shoulders, and glutes all at once.

Day 3: Full-body HIIT series (15 mins)

The great thing about HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is that it gets your heart rate up and helps you build muscle throughout your entire body quickly—in this case, 10 minutes. You’ll cycle through 10 different explosive exercises, like half burpees, squat jacks, and skaters, for 30 seconds each with 30 seconds of rest in between.

Day 4: Take a walk (15 to 20 mins)

Walking can have just as many benefits as running—and is much easier on your joints—so hit the road for a 15-to-20-minute walk or hike.

Day 5: Full-body mobility workout (7 mins)

Mobility—the range of motion in your joints—is important for keeping your bod strong and active as you age. If the joints around your muscles are stiff, it'll prevent you from lengthening and contracting them to their fullest.

This mobility and strength series will take you through moves like knee hugs and leg swings, plus yoga-inspired stretches like child’s pose and downward-facing dog, which will ultimately allow your muscles to move more freely in the rest of your workouts.

Day 6: Join me for a live workout!

Join me Saturday, January 9, on Zoom at 11 a.m. ET, where I’ll lead you through a 35-minute live workout. You can sign up here.

Day 7: Rest and recover

You’ve made it through week one! Give yourself the day off to let your body rest—which is just as important for building strength the workouts themselves. When you exercise, you create teeny, tiny micro-tears in your muscle fibers, and the process of those tears healing and rebuilding (which happens during recovery) is what makes your muscles stronger. When you don't give your muscles time to rest and reset, they won’t be able to work up to their full potential during your active days. Plus, taking a day off will help you mentally prepare for what’s up next. By using today as an excuse to chill, you’ll be able to start next week’s workouts in the best way possible.

Looking to hit refresh on your healthy habits this January? Check out our full 2021 ReNew Year program for expert-led plans for better sleep, nutrition, exercise, and self-care routines. 

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