Foundations of Wellness

The Wellness Workout

The following is a 20- to 30-minute basic strength-training workout. Read these Essential Workout Tips before starting. We are providing one exercise for each major muscle group; there are many variations, and you may wish to add others.

Bench fly, for chest (pectorals). Lying on a bench, hold weights straight up over your chest, with elbows slightly bent. Slowly lower your arms in a semicircular arc until weights are level with your chest, or slightly lower. Reverse the movement, bringing weights over your chest. Repeat.

Bench Fly

Lateral raise, for shoulders (deltoids). Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, hold dumbbells at your sides at thigh level. Slowly lift the weights out to the sides to shoulder level; keep elbows slightly bent. Slowly lower, and repeat.

Lateral raise,

Upright row, for upper back (trapezius), shoulders, and arms. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, hold dumbbells side by side at thigh level (palms toward thighs). Slowly pull them up to your collarbone, until elbows are just above shoulder height. Slowly lower, and repeat.

Upright row

Curl down, or negative sit-up, for midsection (abdominals). Start by sitting with your knees bent, feet flat, and arms reaching forward. Slowly lower yourself to the floor to a count of 10. Sit back up (using your arms, if necessary), and repeat.

Curl down

Triceps extensions. Supporting one knee and hand on a bench or chair, hold a weight at the side of your chest, keeping your arm bent so that your elbow is behind you. Without moving the elbow, extend your arm behind you. Return to starting position; repeat. Switch arms.

Triceps extensions

Curls, for biceps. Sit leaning forward with your legs slightly spread and one hand on your thigh. Keeping the other elbow on the other thigh, hold a weight so that your forearm is horizontal. Slowly curl the weight up and in toward your chest; repeat. Switch arms.


Dumbbell squats, for buttocks, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Holding dumbbells (with palms inward), stand with feet hip-width apart; don’t lock knees. Keeping your weight on your heels, contract your abdominal muscles and bend your knees, lowering your upper torso. Don’t go lower than the illustration shows. Slowly straighten up; repeat.

Dumbbell squats

Heel raises and dips, for calf muscles (soleus and gastrocnemius). Standing with the balls of your feet on a thick book or step, slowly rise on your toes, then lower your heels as far as you can. Repeat. Use your hands for balance, not support.

Heel raises

Step-ups, for buttocks, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Stand facing a 9- to 14-inch step (depending on your height). With hands on hips, place right foot in center of surface, so your right knee is directly over the ankle. Leaning forward slightly, slowly lift left foot and tap top of step with ball of left foot. Slowly return left foot to ground. Repeat, then switch legs.


Push-up #1. Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width; keep feet together, with knees locked. Start with elbows straight, but never locked. Bend your elbows to lower your body, and try to bring your chest to within an inch of the floor. Keep your body in a straight line, from head to ankles, throughout the movement. Move up and down slowly, with abdominal muscles tightened. Repeat.

Push-up #1.

Push-up #2 (easier version). Same as above, but keep your knees on the ground and feet raised. Don’t put your weight on knee caps, but rather just above them; you can use a cushion. Don’t arch your lower back. Lower, lift, and repeat.

Push-up #2

Illustrations by Susan Blubaugh