The Goal: Do 15 "Real" Pushups
Time Needed: 6 weeks
It's a big jump from "girl" pushups, where your knees touch the floor, to military-style presses, but there's one simple tool that can help you bridge the gap: a staircase. "Angled pushups are easier than those on a flat surface, and they build more strength in your shoulders, chest, arms, and core than pushups on your knees do," says Mark Nutting, C.S.C.S., fitness director at Saco Sport and Fitness in Saco, Maine. Starting with step 1, practice each step four times a week until you can do 15 pushups without rest, and then move on to the next step.
Step 1 Stand facing a staircase with both feet flat on the floor a few inches in front of the bottom step. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the front edge of a step so your body is at roughly a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keeping your abs tight and your body straight, lower yourself slowly, then push back up. Do 1 set of 15 (stop to rest for 30 to 60 seconds at any time if you need to).
Step 2 Position your feet about 6 inches away from the stairs and place your hands one step lower. Again, aim for 15 pushups, and take 30- to 60-second breaks as you need them.
Step 3 Repeat the move, but this time back your feet a few more inches away from the stairs and lower your hands another step. Repeat until you run out of stairs and can do 15 on the floor.
The Goal: Touch your toes without your knees buckling
Time Needed: A week or less
You should be able to reach your piggies after running through these four stretches once or twice. The secret: "unlocking the fascia, the muscular connective tissue that runs from the back of your head to your heels," says Bill Hartman, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. Use these four moves every morning to increase your flexibility.
On all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under hips, slowly round your back (A). Then push it toward the floor to create an arch (B). That's 1 rep; do 10.
Stand with your heels on a 2-inch book or 25-pound weight plate and your toes on the floor. Bend forward at the hips and reach for your toes, then stand back up. That's 1 rep; do 10.
Now position your toes on that book or weight plate and your heels on the floor. Bend forward at the hips and reach for your toes, then stand up. Do 10 reps.
Stretches Feet and toes
Standing on one foot, roll a tennis ball under the other foot from toe to heel for 60 seconds. Repeat with the other foot.
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