From running your first race to learning a new squat variation, we share some of the best fitness resolutions for this year.
This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com.
It’s time to set that New Year’s resolution. And we’re not talking about vowing to drop pounds or get lean (though these ideas might help in those departments, too). When it comes to following through with resolutions, the more specific, the better. So we rounded up seven of the most badass (yet doable!) fitness goals you’ll want to steal for 2017 — from finally crushing a pull-up to balancing in a handstand, and a few others in between. Plus, we’ll share the concrete steps to help get you to the finish. Pick one or tackle all seven. Either way, we see some big wins in your future.
7 Big-Time Fitness Goals to Set for 2017
1. Master the Perfect Push-Up
Why it matters: Most trainers will tout push-ups as a top total-body move, targeting your shoulders and back to your core and thighs. So becoming a push-up protégé will do your body some serious good.
How to nail it: Believe us, it’s A-OK to perform the move on your knees, especially if you’re a workout newbie. But don’t settle for the modified version. Work on progressing to that high plank position. Daily Burn 365 trainer Prince Brathwaite explains how to do just that in the video above. Start by holding the top of the push-up position (aka a plank), then the bottom. Next, work on the eccentric or downward motion. Before you know it, you’ll perform it like a pro. Feeling super motivated? Work toward the plyo variation in this story, which scorches mega calories.
Photo courtesy of AJC Peachtree Road Race
2. Finish Your First Race
Why it matters: Nothing compares to the glory you’ll feel at the finish line of your first 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon or triathlon (take your pick!). Even if you’ve covered a shorter distance before and move on to the next feat, you’ll feel so proud of the medal you earn after conquering that longer run. Other options for more cardio adventure: a trail race or mud run, like the Spartan Race. “Aroo!” as the Spartans say. (For a kick-ass training plan that’ll get you ready for the obstacle race, sign up for the Daily Burn Spartan program.)
How to nail it: Of course, any distance requires some prep. Lucky for you, we have lots of race day tips and training plans. Sign up for a race in a cool new city or see your hometown from a different angle. Then check out this advice to get you to the finish:
3. Hit That Handstand
Why it matters: Besides seriously impressing your friends and Instagram followers, balancing in an inverted position requires pretty top-notch core strength. It also builds muscle in your arms, shoulders and back. Not to mention, it can increase circulation in your upper body, while taking some pressure off your legs (at least for a little while).
How to nail it: Defying gravity requires tackling small steps along the way. To do so, follow yoga expert Briohny Smyth’s progression in the video above. She’ll take you through grip and stabilization exercises, and teach you how to gain more strength in your core. Put in the effort and balancing on your hands could become as easy as standing on your feet.
4. Finally Do a Pull-Up
Why it matters: You probably perform the pulling motion — one of the body’s primary movement patterns — countless times in your day. So gaining strength in that area just makes everyday tasks way easier. Besides a more defined back, you’ll also gain arm and core power and improve your strength in relation to your body mass (aka relative strength). Ladies, we totally understand this move is exceptionally difficult to master, which is exactly why you should try.
How to nail it: The most important step of the move comes from the eccentric or downward motion, says Ben Bruno, a Los Angeles-based trainer, in this overview of how to do a pull-up. You’ll spend a good amount of time practicing this portion, until you’re ready to try the real deal. (An assisted band will help with the full range of motion, too.) Continue practicing the movement, as many times as you can, until you’re ready to incorporate it into a workout.
5. Show Off an Impressive Lift
Why it matters: Not only will you blend in with CrossFit crowd (and look like a regular amongst them) when you learn to lift heavy, but you’ll also get seriously stronger. While lifting heavy might seem scary at first, it’s the most effective way to build muscle — which will burn more cals for you in the long run.
Three notable lifts to add to your list: the deadlift (a total-body move that focuses on your posterior chain, especially hamstrings, and helps improve alignment), barbell snatch (for strength and power in your core, glutes and calves) and the clean and jerk (which targets the entire body and throws in a cardio endurance challenge).
How to nail it: It’s all about breaking ‘em down — and we don’t just mean your muscle fibers, but the moves as well. Follow these links to master each step of the three lifts mentioned:
The 5 Most Important Lifts to Master (deadlifts are number one)
6. Balance in Crow Pose
Why it matters: A skill any wannabe yogi covets, crow takes you from a deep squat position to putting all your bodyweight on your hands. You’ll do this by placing your knees right at your armpits. Anyone looking to work their core will also see the advantages of this move, as it’s all about balance.
How to nail it: You’ll need to stretch and strengthen a few key areas of the body before bouncing up into the balance position. Practice these three moves to master crow from Kristin McGee, a New York City-based yoga instructor. Then, follow her form tips for reaching the top. (Just have a crash pad handy if you’re scared of falling!) You’ll be a crow pose pro in no time.
7. Tackle a Pistol Squat
Why it matters: You probably do hundreds of regular squats throughout your day, but this single-leg variation kicks up the stability challenge. It’s the ultimate test for strength, ankle mobility and balance. The payoff: running and jumping off one foot more efficiently (looking at you, racers!), enhanced mobility, muscle gain and improved coordination. Oh, and some serious CrossFit cred. Who can turn that down?
How to nail it: Form takes priority with this move, so that you don’t overload the knee joint. Follow the steps to building up to full range of (unassisted) motion in the beginner’s guide to the pistol squat video above. You’ll know you need to start from the bottom of the progression if your toes or heels leave the floor at any time during the exercise.