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Start 2022 by reminding your body that it’s built to twist and turn.
This underrated skill utilizes muscles you know well (abs, obliques, lats, and glutes, among others), but it’s often forgotten in training plans. That leaves you vulnerable to injury when you shovel snow or pick up your toddler. Fix that by doing this workout four times a week. All other days, go for a 20-minute run.
WHO CAME UP WITH THIS ROUTINE? The mind behind your first workout of 2022 is Rui Qiang Liu, C.S.C.S., a San Francisco–based trainer who was part of the second flight of the Strength in Diversity Initiative, a Men’s Health program that works to build diversity, equity, and inclusion in the fitness industry. Systemic issues have long prevented trainers from marginalized communities from forging successful careers. Strength in Diversity offers those trainers a jump start. Liu, 36, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Albany High School, and he’s working on a personal-training program, Lightning Dragon Athletics.
Directions: Do this workout as a 4-round circuit. Do each move for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
Bear Crawl to Reach Jump
Start in bear-plank position, back flat, hands directly below your shoulders, knees below your hips, shins off the floor. Keeping your back flat and abs tight, walk forward 2 steps. Aim to move your right arm and left leg at the same time (and vice versa). Walk back 2 steps, then stand up.Jump and reach for the ceiling. That’s 1 rep. Do reps for 30 seconds, then rest 30seconds. Do 3 sets.
Lateral Lunge to Overhead Press
Start standing, holding dumbbells at your thighs, shoulder blades squeezed, abs tight. Step to the left with your left foot. Keeping your right leg straight, and keeping the majority of your weight on your left leg, push your butt back and bend your left knee. Lower until your left thigh is parallel to the floor or you feel your back round, whichever comes first. Push through your left heel to drive back to standing position. Push your butt back slightly, then explosively stand, pulling the dumbbells up to shoulder height as you do this. Press the dumbbells over-head. Return to the start and repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep. You’re building lower-body strength and shoulder muscle, too.
Plank Row to Side Plank
Blast your abs and build posture-saving back muscle. Start in pushup position, hands on dumbbells directly below your shoulders, feet wide. Lower into a pushup. Press up; as you do, row the right dumbbell toward your rib cage. Return to the start.Do another pushup. Press up, remove your right hand from the dumbbell, and reach it toward the ceiling. Hold, then return to the start; repeat the entire sequence on the other side. That’s 1 rep.
Core Focus: Keep your hips square to the floor during the row. Let them rotate during the reach.
Rack-Down Walking Lunge
Now build your hamstrings and glutes (and more core strength than you’d think). Stand, holding a dumbbell at your left shoulder and another at your right hip, abs and glutes tight. Step forward with your left leg; lower into a lunge. Drive through your left leg and push off your right foot, driving your right leg in front of your left; immediately lower into another lunge. Continue doing this for 30 seconds. (Switch dumbbell positions each set.)
Up next, bulletproof your back and abs to twist and turn at any moment. Kneel on your shins, abs and glutes tight, holding a dumbbell at your left hip with both hands. Raise the dumb-bell across your body and to the right, lifting it as high as you can; keep your hips square while you do this. Lower it back to the start. That’s 1 rep; do reps for 30 seconds.Do 1 set on each side.
Make It Yours: Raise the dumbbell only as high as is comfortable. This shouldn’t hurt your shoulders.
Dumbbell Overhead Isometric Hip Extension
Almost done! Blast your glutes now, insulating your body against lower-back pain. Lie on your back, holding a dumbbell with both hands directly above your shoulders, feet about 6 inches in front of your butt. Keeping your abs tight, squeeze your glutes and drive your heels into the floor, lifting your butt off the floor. Reach the dumbbell backward; squeeze your abs hard as you do this. Hold for 30 seconds.
Situp to Fist Punch
Finish by going old-school to carve your abs and obliques. Lie on your back, feet near your butt, core and glutes tight, hands held in front of your face. Keeping your neck relaxed (imagine a baseball between your chin and your chest), squeeze your abs and raise your torso so it’s at a 45 degree angle with the floor. Punch your left hand past your right knee; repeat with your right hand. Lower with control. That’s 1 rep.
Power Up: Punch like you mean it! Explode into each punch, and turn your shoulders as far as possible to each side.
PICTURED HERE: Austin “Dotty” Dotson is a California-based trainer, actor, and Instagram personality. Follow him at @adotty10.
This story originally appears in the January/February 2022 issue of Men’s Health.
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