The 'Book Bag' Workout for Teens (and Adults Too!)




By Robert Reames, CSCS, *D, RTS1, CPT


All right teens, it's time to work those muscles! This is the deal. I'm going to give you a self-contained, simple, safe, straightforward resistance training program that you can do virtually anywhere, anytime. I'm going to call this the "Book Bag" workout system. All you need are two to three pieces of tubing at two to three different resistance levels and approximately a 5 x 5 working space. The tubing stores easily in your book bag, backpack, purse, briefcase or locker. This is your very own mobile fitness facility!

This program consists of nine self-contained resistance exercises, giving you a full body workout that hits all of your major muscle groups. You ultimately want to perform this workout three times per week, every other day. (Like Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.) Think about the possibility of being able to work out during a lunch break, a free period, before or after school or in your backyard or garage. You could grab a workout at home during a study break. You could even get together with some friends and work out together before a movie or social event! Carry your mobile fitness facility wherever you go so that you are always prepared. Your possibilities are endless, and if you make the time and do the work, the results will be plain to see. We're talking about 20 to 30 minutes total per workout.

Resistance training builds lean muscle. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn — plain and simple. Think of muscle as fat-burning fireplaces located throughout your system. The more muscle you have, the more fireplaces ignite and the more intense existing fireplaces become. You really do, in essence, become a fat-burning machine. And, what's incredible is that this fat-burning mechanism that you create in your body is working for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You burn calories during the workout, but more importantly, you lay the groundwork for perpetual fat burning. Each pound of muscle that you build burns approximately 50 extra calories per day by doing absolutely nothing! Resistance training is your pal, an ever dependable partner in your weight loss efforts. It truly is the gift that you give to yourself that just keeps on giving. Don't miss out on this. If you prefer to work out at the gym, you can still include these exercises.

Here's the program:

Key Points

  • Begin with a 5- to 7- minute general warm-up. This can be walking, marching in place, calisthenics, biking or dancing. The warm-up prepares your body for the work.

  • Use tubing resistance levels that are comfortable but challenging. Practice these exercises with no resistance at first so that you feel fully comfortable with the motion of the exercise. Resistance exercises are in essence motions or motor skills that your body learns. Then add resistance to these motions.

  • Maintain normal breathing throughout each exercise. Exhale on the initial motion of the exercise and inhale on the return phase. Never hold your breath during any part of an exercise.

  • Activate your core stabilization mechanism (CSM) for all resistance exercises. To do this, simply draw your navel in toward your spine while maintaining normal breathing. This keeps your body rock stable and works your midsection as well. Activate optimal posture and spinal alignment. Stand up nice and tall.

  • Keep your knees slightly bent for all standing exercises. Make sure that the tubing is placed securely underneath the middle of your feet before beginning each exercise.

  • Never hold the tubing in front of your eyes or any part of your face.

  • Check tubing before each workout to make sure that there are no cracks in the tubing. Make sure that tubing is securely adhered to the handles. Do not leave the tubing out in the cold weather.

  • If you feel any joint or muscular pain, immediately stop exercising and seek medical attention.

    The Exercises

    Standing Incline Chest Press
    Standing Lateral Raise
    Seated Row
    Standing Tricep Press
    Standing Bicep Curl
    Basic Squat
    Stationary Lunge
    Abdominal Crunches
    Supermans (do 3 sets of 10-second holds)

    Perform two to three sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise (except for Supermans, do as indicated above).

    Standing Incline Chest Press
    Works: Pectoralis major, shoulders, triceps
    Execution: Begin standing in a staggered position with your left foot approximately 12 to 16 inches in front of your right foot. Place the tubing securely underneath your right foot (back foot). Plant both feet securely to the floor at all times. Once the tubing is securely placed, grab the tubing handles and bring them directly in front of your shoulders. This is the starting position. On motion, push the handles up at a 45-degree angle, fully extending your arms and return to the starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps.
    Points: Alternate staggered foot position on every other set, putting the left foot in front one set, and the right the next. Keep both knees slightly bent during the exercise. Activate CSM.

    Standing Lateral Raise
    Works:
    Shoulders (front and lateral deltoids)
    Execution: Stand with feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Place tubing securely underneath the middle of each foot (or one foot depending on desired resistance level). Hold the handles at your sides with the elbows at approximately 90 degrees directly beside you. On motion, raise your arms to the side to just below shoulder level and return to the starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps.
    Points: Keep knees slightly bent. Activate CSM. The wider your foot stance, the higher your resistance level.

    Seated Row
    Works: Lats, rhomboids, mid trapezius, rear deltoids, elbow flexors (biceps)
    Execution: Begin in the seated position, seated nice and tall with legs extended out in front of you. Keep a slight bend in the knees during the exercise. Place the tubing underneath both feet. Tubing placement again is securely placed in the middle of each foot. Bring the handles in between the feet, then back outside the feet once again for extra stability of tubing placement. At this point, the tubing is in essence wrapped twice around your feet. Grab a handle in each hand with arms fully extended. Again, you are seated nice and tall. CSM is activated. On motion, simply pull the handles back directly beside you to where your elbows just pass your body. Return to starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps.
    Points: Sit nice and tall, keep a slight bend in your knees and keep all motions very smooth.

    Standing Tricep Press
    Works: Triceps
    Execution: Begin in a staggered position with your left foot approximately 12 to 16 inches in front of your right foot. Place the tubing securely underneath your right foot (back foot). Plant both feet securely to the floor. Keep them planted throughout the exercise. (This the same set-up as on the Standing Incline Chest Press.) Once the tubing is securely placed, extend your arms fully over your head. On motion, just bend your elbows to 90 degrees and fully extend again to the starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps.
    Points: Keep your wrists straight. Keep your elbows rock stable, not letting your elbows move at all during the motion. Again, make sure that the tubing resistance level is comfortable yet challenging.

    Standing Bicep Curl

    Works: Biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis (elbow flexors)
    Execution: Begin with both feet firmly planted with knees bent approximately shoulder-width apart and tubing placed securely underneath the middle of both feet. Hold tubing handles directly beside you with palms facing front and arms fully extended. On motion, just bend your elbow joint up to just past a 90-degree angle and return to starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps.
    Points: Keep knees slightly bent, stand up nice and tall and do not hyperextend your elbows.

    Basic Squat
    Works: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus and various other lower body muscle groups.
    Execution: Begin with feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart with tubing securely placed underneath the middle of both feet. Hold your handles as close to the front of your shoulder joint as possible with elbows directly beside your body. Stand up nice and tall and activate CSM. Look straight ahead. Bend your knees to a comfortable range of motion (never beyond 90 degrees) and return to the starting position. Repeat for desired amount of reps.
    Points: Keep feet firmly planted, particularly the back half of the feet. Go to a comfortable range of motion and not beyond. Make sure that both knees track directly in line between the first and second toes. Do not let knees lock or hyperextend. Practice this motion fully without any tubing to make sure that you feel secure with the exercise. Then add resistance.

    Stationary Lunges
    Works:
    Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus and various other lower body muscle groups.

    Execution: Begin with right foot forward, firmly planted about 12 to 24 inches in front of the left foot. The heel of the left foot (back foot) will be slightly off the floor. Place the tubing securely underneath the right foot (front foot). Hold tubing handles securely as close to the front of your shoulder joint as possible with elbows directly beside your body. (Same as with Basic Squat.) Stand up nice and tall and activate CSM. Face straight ahead. On motion, simply bend your right knee to a comfortable range of motion (never beyond 90 degrees) and return to your starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps. Repeat on opposite leg.
    Points: Keep feet firmly planted, particularly the back half of the front foot. Keep knees in direct line tracking between the first and second toes. Keep front knee in direct vertical line with the ankle joint and do not let it come forward.

    Abdominal Crunches

    Works: Rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, various core musculature
    Execution: Lie down on a mat or padded floor facing up with knees bent and the soles of your feet planted on the mat or floor. Place your hands behind your head or fold your arms in front of you, depending on what's comfortable for your neck. Leading with the sternum, bring your upper body toward your knees. Bring your upper body no more than 30 degrees off of the floor or mat as to not go into a full sit-up. Return to starting position and repeat for desired number of reps.
    Points: Keep the motion smooth both on the upward and downward phase. Make sure that the motion comes from your abdominals and not from pulling on your neck.

    Supermans

    Works: Spinal extensors, low back, gluteus maximus
    Execution: Lie face down on a mat or padded floor with arms fully extended overhead and legs straight. On motion, lift your arms and legs off of the mat as though you are flying. Your chest and midsection will remain on the floor. Hold this position for desired number of seconds. Return to starting position and repeat for desired reps.
    Points: Keep you face toward the floor for optimal spinal alignment.

    Enjoy your workout!

    Disclaimer: All information and answers are given for educational purposes only. Your individual needs may vary. Always consult with your physician before starting or changing any exercise fitness programs and activities.