OC Sports & Rehab


If you’re one of the many people who made a resolution to get fit and active this year, you may be struggling to find the time and energy to stick to a workout plan. It can be hard to find time to be active when you have to work and take care of your family. Worse, even if you have the time, it can be hard to sort through all of the articles, tips, and routines online that are supposed to be from “experts.” Where do you even begin?

Physical therapists are the real experts when it comes to muscles and bones, so we asked some of our PTs what their favorite effective and efficient home exercises were. We want to take the guesswork out of exercise so you can get the most out of your time and workouts.

  1. Squat your age a day
    Squats are one of the best exercises because they work so many different muscles at the same time. If you do a good squat the right way, it can work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, calves, hip abductors, and more! Start with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and imagine you’re sitting back in a chair. To keep good form, keep your hips and buttocks low and your chest up. You can make the workout harder over time by squatting lower, doing more reps, and maybe even adding weight.
  2. Get stronger by doing pushups
    One of the easiest and best exercises for strengthening and toning the upper body, pushups work the triceps, pectoral muscles, shoulders, and abdominal muscles. If you’re just starting a new fitness routine, you might have to start on your knees, but if you keep at it, you should be able to do pushups from your toes in no time. By increasing the number of pushups you can do at once, your strength will steadily improve. Also, pushups are versatile because you can change where your hands and feet are to make them harder and work different muscles. Try the seal pushup, the diamond pushup, and staggered hand pushups once you’ve mastered the regular pushup.
  3. Be grateful for planks
    Planks are one of the best exercises for your abs, even better than crunches and sit-ups because they put less pressure on your back. Planks not only work your abs, but they also strengthen your whole core and lower back. This makes you more stable, lowers your risk of injury, and keeps you mobile. Planks come in a lot of different forms, just like pushups. There are low planks, high planks, side planks, shoulder taps, and more. Google different modifications and try holding for 30 seconds to a minute at a time, 3–5 times a day. You’ll see and feel the benefits in no time.
  4. Bridge with arms overhead
    Bridges are another great exercise for your lower body and core. They also work your lower back. Start by lying on your back with your feet on the ground evenly. Make a fist with your arms up and punch the ground with it as you lift your hips and squeeze your glutes. This works the long muscles in the neck and chest that are needed for good posture. Keep your knees wide and push your heels into the ground to get the most out of your glutes. Hold the movement at the top and take a few breaths to use the diaphragm. Like the squat, the bridge uses a lot of different leg muscles, which makes it a good and useful exercise.
  5. Don’t underestimate jumping jacks
    Boxers, athletes, and people in the military do jumping jacks as part of their workouts because they are one of the easiest ways to do cardio from anywhere. Jumping jacks are a type of plyometrics, also called “jump training,” which is a good way to combine aerobic and strength training. Your heart rate goes up, and you work out your whole body, especially your glutes, quadriceps, and hip flexors. When you lift your arms over your head, you also stretch out your shoulders and use your abdominal muscles to stay balanced. You can change things up to make it more difficult, but sticking to the basics is a good way to burn calories, get your heart rate up, and work muscles all over your body.

Find out what exercises and movements are optimal for getting in shape by contacting our Foothill Ranch Physical TherapyPlacentia Physical TherapyMission Viejo Physical Therapy, or Lake Forest Physical Therapy locations.