Warm days are for porch sitting, cold drinks and outdoor workouts… so, what if you could combine the three into a perfect porch-friendly exercise routine?
No, it’s not too good to be true. (You were thinking it was too good to be true, weren’t you?) All you need is a tall glass of cold water (or beer… we won’t judge) and a sturdy patio chair or bench. Perform each exercise as described and cycle through the circuit three times.
1. Practice pistol squat
Pistol squats are tough! We don’t expect you to drop all the way into a deep squat with one leg extended on your first try. Instead, use your patio chair to help you master the movement.
Stand in front of the chair with your legs about hip-distance apart, your knees slightly bent. Shift your weight to the right and lift your left foot off the ground, extending it in front of you. Once you have your balance, tip your hips backward and start bending your right knee, lowering your butt toward the chair, as if you were going to sit down. Go as far as you can without falling, then press through your heel and return to standing. Perform a set of 10 repetitions before switching sides.
2. Chair push-up
Place your hands firmly on the chair (you can use the chair back, arms or seat) and step your feet behind you until your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Your palms should be in line with your chest with your arms extended. Tighten your core and bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the chair. When your elbows are bent slightly further than 90 degrees, reverse the movement and press through your palms, extending your elbows. Perform a set of 12 or 15 repetitions.
3. Single-leg lunge hop
Stand 12 to 24 inches in front of the chair, your feet about hip-distance apart. Shift your weight slightly to the left and bend your right knee, placing the top of your right foot on top of the chair’s seat. Bend your left knee, lowering yourself into a lunge as you reach your hands down toward the ground, all while keeping your torso tight and straight. In a powerful movement, press down through your left heel and explode up through the ball of your left foot so you come onto your toes or hop up into the air. Land lightly, your knee slightly bent and immediately lower yourself into another lunge. Perform six to 10 repetitions before switching sides.
4. Chair row
Tip the chair over so you can stand between the chair legs. Bend your knees and press your hips back, tightening your core. Allow your torso to lean toward the ground as you reach down to grasp the chair’s legs. Adjust your hand position so the weight feels evenly distributed between the front and back of the chair. Keeping your torso steady, bend your elbows and draw them up to the sides of your body, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you lift the chair in a row. Hold for a second, then lower back to start. Perform a set of 12 repetitions.
5. Chair dip
Sit at the front of your chair, your hands grasping the edge next to your body. Extend your legs in front of you, push up through your palms and lift your butt from the chair’s seat. Bend your elbows straight back and lower your torso in a steady manner directly in front of the chair until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Press yourself back to start and continue. Perform a set of 10 to 12 repetitions.
6. Knee raise
This one can be performed as shown, or you can leave your butt grounded on the chair or bench with your hands behind you for support. You still lift and lower your knees as described, but the range of motion is smaller and you have greater support.
If you have a chair with arms, grasp each arm firmly at the front edge, then firm up your elbows for support. One at a time, lift both feet from the ground, supporting your weight with nothing but your palms. Allow your knees to bend, so your feet are under the chair’s seat. Tighten your core and lift your knees as high as you can toward your chest while keeping your torso reasonably steady. Hold for a second, then lower your legs. Perform as many as you can with good form.
7. Hip swing
This exercise helps loosen up the hips — particularly good if you’re a runner or cyclist.
Stand behind the chair with your hands placed lightly on the chair back, your feet together. Shift your weight to the left and take your weight off your right foot. Swing your right foot out laterally to the side as far as you comfortably can before swinging it back in front of your body — crossing it over as far as you can. Continue swinging your right leg out and in, challenging your hip mobility on each swing, for a total of 15 repetitions. Repeat on the opposite side.