Do you need help focusing on your fitness goals? After a turbulent 2020 and a bumpy beginning to 2021, it’s more important than ever to foster positive energy through healthy habits. If you’re feeling powerless, discouraged, or totally tapped out, it’s essential to shine a spotlight on the one thing you do have control over: yourself.

While exercising won’t solve the issues of the world, it will release some of the stress they may be causing for you. With just 30 minutes of movement each day, you can improve your circulation, spirits, and self-esteem as you shift attention away from your worries to fortifying your mind and body instead. Think of this toning time as a much needed reset for your entire system.

Last week we set the foundation for a four-week workout challenge, with the goal of building motivation and program adherence. For week two, you can expect a slightly more challenging set of exercises. By slowly and steadily increasing the intensity each week, you’re more likely to avoid burnout, experience measured progress, and most importantly, stay safe throughout the process.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

High-intensity training is the major theme for these three days. Exercises are designed to target vital fitness factors such as building balance, endurance, and coordination, as well as improving bone and muscle density. To make the most of these workouts, perform exercises at a brisk pace with brief rest breaks in between (one or two minutes) to ensure your pulse is pumping and muscles are working hard. Since these are shorter workouts, you should be exerting energy from start to finish. But of course, remember to always listen to your body and take a longer break when necessary.

Glute bridge

Beginner: From a supine position, bend your knees and firmly plant your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Extend your arms out to your sides, palms down. Press through your heels and hands to lift your hips until they form a straight line from knees to shoulders. Squeeze your glutes at the top and hold for two counts before slowly lowering your hips back down to the floor. Repeat 10 times.

Intermediate-advanced: Position yourself near a sturdy platform like a chair. Place your heels on the edge of the chair with arms out to your sides. Push through your heels to elevate your hips until they are in line with your shoulders and knees. Hold for two counts then slowly lower your hips but keep resistance on the muscles by stopping within an inch of the floor and then pushing right back up again. Continue for 10 counts.

Push-up

Beginner: Begin on all fours with your hands aligned below shoulders. Push your knees back a bit until your body forms a straight line to your head. Slowly lower your body toward the floor, leaving a space between your chest and the ground. Push through your palms to return to the starting position. Repeat five to eight times.

Intermediate-advanced: From a plank position on your toes, lower your body down toward the floor. On the upward phase, powerfully push off your hands and clap them together, then land softly on your hands. Repeat 10 times. You can also try this explosive push-up from your knees.

Step up

Beginner: Using a chair (or the first step on your staircase for an easier challenge) plant your right foot on its surface. Do not let your heel hang. Press through your right heel to stand then lower back down to the starting stance. Repeat eight times on each side.

Intermediate-advanced: Plant your right foot on a sturdy chair. Push through your right heel to stand. When balanced, move very slowly (countdown Mississippi-style from 5) as you lower your left leg back down toward the floor. To do this, hinge back at your hips so your torso is slightly slanted forward, and front knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Your right leg should be working to balance your body weight as you bring your floating left leg down. Repeat eight times on each side.

Lunge

Beginner: Stand near a wall for support. Take a step back with your right leg and lower down into a lunge. Your front and back knee should form 90-degree angles, or as close as you can comfortably go within your range of motion. Your front knee should not extend beyond your toes. Now step your right leg back to standing. Repeat four times on each side.

Intermediate-advanced: Take a step back with your right foot to lower into a lunge. Remain in this stance as you pulse your legs by standing then dropping back down. Pulse two times then push off your left heel to swing your right leg forward. Pulse two times. Continue this back-and-forth sequence 10 times on each side (two pulses to the front, two to the back is one repetition).

Tuesday, Thursday

For these two days you’ll mix up your training style by concentrating on cardio. Aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking. To enhance your endurance, try carving out 10 minutes of easy running within this 30-minute session.

Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. As you start to see the benefits of your workouts, like feeling stronger and healthier, exercise will transform from being a mundane task to one that is part of your daily lifestyle.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach in South Jersey. To learn more about her virtual training program, go to ashleyblakefitness.com.