Wannabe Warrior


Rachel Red

If you’re like most college students, you barely have time or the energy to drag yourself to those 8 a.m. classes without getting splattered by the cars speed-racing around the Quad—and even then, more-than-recommended quantities of coffee are likely involved. How, then, are you supposed to find time to maintain your health through exercise? We’ve all heard the tips spouted by countless professionals: “Take the stairs, not the elevator” (unless you’re already ten minutes late to class and tardies are as good as absences), “Wake up half an hour early” (except you just pulled an all-nighter to finish that fifteen-page paper on math of all topics), or better yet, “Turn your lunch break into a workout session” (need I even refute this one?).


It’s true. Finding the time and will to exercise can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Here are a few workouts I’ve picked up that I enjoy precisely because they’re short, simple, and (gasp!) fun. Not to mention, there’s no need for expensive equipment or lengthy trips to the fitness center, though both have their advantages.



First up are some stretch variations. Stretching is integral to workout safety, and loosening those tight muscles after a long day of lectures and exams can make you feel like melted butter––in a good way.


Triangle Stretch Variation 

This has to be my favorite stretch, simply because it makes me feel so good. Famous for its backpain-relief, the Triangle Stretch begins with you standing upright, legs spread, and heels about four feet apart. Once in that position, lift your arms out to each side so that your outstretched palms are parallel with the floor, but stop once your arms are level with your shoulders.


Here is where my variation comes into play. While you can attempt the original triangle pose or the revolved triangle pose, I prefer to keep both feet pointing forward. Slowly, twist diagonally toward your left ankle with your right hand reaching towards it and your left hand sweeping backwards towards the ceiling. You should be able to trace invisible lines along your arms to frame your leg once you reach the right position. Remember to keep your neck and hips relaxed but locked into position as well, facing forward and parallel so that neither rolls in or out past the other. If you feel you’re able, try clasping your left ankle with your right hand, but if you’re more comfortable resting your hand on your shin or around your calf, that works, too. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.  Slowly, unbend your torso and sweep your arms in the opposite direction as before until you are once more standing upright with your arms outstretched. Repeat for the other side.


Do this about six-ten times on each side every day for a total of twelve-twenty triangle stretches. I’ve found that I feel best when I do these after waking up and getting out of bed, as I’m prone to a stiff back during the night. Feeling those joints and muscles stretch and crackle always shoots warmth up my spine and energizes me for the day.


Warrior II

There are three different Warrior lunges in yoga, but I prefer the second. For this one, stand in the triangle stretch starting position, with your legs spread, back straight, and arms outstretched. Then rotate your right foot 90 degrees to the right, keeping the heel in line with your left. Carefully twist your upper body the same way until you’re facing the right from the neck down only, tightening your thighs as you do so, but don’t move your head with your torso. Align your right kneecap with the center of your right heel.


Next, raise your knee and push forward into your heel until the shin forms a perpendicular line with the floor and you dip slightly downward. If you’re able, lower your hips until your right thigh is parallel with the floor as well. Be sure to strengthen your left leg and balance your weight so that it remains centered with your middle, and your back should remain relaxed but straight and as perpendicular as your shin. Don’t arch forward into the lunge.  Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then push your knee back in line with the rest of your leg, so that your leg forms a diagonal line and you rise slightly. Repeat for the other side.


All Warrior lunges are great for stretching upper and lower body alike, as well as relieving back aches. Do at least six of these on either side, for a total of twelve a day.


Door Frame Stretch

This has to be the easiest stretch I’ve ever seen, and the only equipment it requires is a doorway and a wall. Also, if you spend any time hunched over your laptop or cellphone, this is a great way to loosen those bunched muscles in your chest and arms. Begin by standing in front of the doorway with your arms outstretched and palms pressed to your side of the wall. You’ll form a T in the doorway, with your feet planted in line with your shoulders. Slowly, lean forward into the doorway, bracing yourself only with your arms and palms, until you feel the strain like a band across your chest and in your underarms. Your back and hips should remain in line, as if your torso and legs are a single plank of plywood. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. Strengthen your core and arms and pull yourself straight without relaxing from the straight board pose.


Do fifteen of these a day, resting for 20 seconds in-between repetitions. Soon enough, you’ll be hefting those laundry baskets of soaked towels with no problem!


(Ah, if only.)


Strength Exercises

Now we get to the meat of things! As a runner, I focus more on strengthening my lower body, but the upper body is important as well, especially your core. That said, here are three workouts I try to do every day before bed, both to maintain muscle and to wear myself out to ensure a good night’s sleep. Even insomniacs should have a tough time bouncing around after a few repetitions of these workouts!



Oh, squats, shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Needless to say, I love squats. For me, there’s nothing quite like setting your thighs on fire and being able to sit in imaginary chairs while the plebeians get sore tailbones from sitting crisscross applesauce on the floor.


But anyway.


First, always, always, always make sure you’re wearing good, solid tennis shoes; not doing so can, with enough squats, do some serious harm to your knees. Remember, you’re trying to build yourself up, not break yourself down.


Once you have the proper footwear, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms stretched out in front of you at shoulder height, palms down. Tighten your core and shove your hips backwards––it might look funny to your roommate, but it’ll make a difference. Then drop. Make sure to keep your back as straight as possible and your knees centered over your foot so that if you were to look down the line of your legs, you would still see the tips of your shoes. That’s not to say that your knees won’t move at all; you would have to have thighs of steel not to shift even a little. Instead, control the movement and try to push your butt backwards, forcing yourself to engage your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. To finish the squat, shove upward with your entire lower body, feeling each muscle tighten. If you’re feeling confident, try doing a jump squat, in which instead of rising to a standing position, you jump as you come up, pushing off powerfully so that your knees rise as high as you can bring them before landing. When landing, remember to keep your knees bent and springy, not stiff, least the shock wear out your knees.


I prefer to do fifteen regular squats at a time, three times daily: when I wake up, before lunch, and before I go to bed. That way, I allow my muscles to rest, thereby decreasing the likelihood of injury, while still getting in a decent 45 repetitions a day. On top of the original fifteen, however, in the mornings I add five jumping squats, to get my blood pumping and energized, so it ends up being fifty squats a day––but it doesn’t feel like it!



Planks are awesome for strengthening your core. To start, position yourself as if you were going to do a pushup, with your legs close together and straight and the tips of your shoes touching the floor. Bend your arms so that your elbows form a 90-degree angle in line with your shoulders, then rest your forearms on the floor. Slowly, engaging your entire core, lift yourself into the pushup. Your body should form as straight a line as possible from your head to your heels, and your back should not be arched. Your entire weight should be balanced between your toes and your forearms. To really feel a difference, concentrate on tightening and compacting every muscle, and hold that position for 30 seconds to a minute.


You can also do a side plank, in which you follow the same procedure except you’ll be sideways, facing the wall.  Your weight will be balanced between your right forearm and the right side of your right foot, and likewise for your left side when you switch sides.


Since planks can be a little demanding, I recommend only doing three repetitions of each a day, throughout the day, but feel free to do as many as you feel comfortable doing! If you get nauseated  or your muscles start feeling hot and quivery, take a break so you don’t do more harm than good.


Reverse Curl and Lift

This exercise is the bane of my existence––but man, does it work. Lie on your back with your legs stretched out straight, pressed together, and lifted about six inches off the ground, then point your toes in the direction you’re facing. Interlace your fingers behind your head, and concentrating on contracting your abdominal muscles, bend and lift your knees towards your chest. Your hips should rise slightly off the ground as you do so. Try not to lift your upper body very much but instead use your core to lift your lower body by strength alone. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then slowly lower your lower body to where you started, legs straight and six inches off the ground.


Unless you’ve been strength training for a while, this one will be a little difficult at first, so aim for five repetitions a day, resting in between as needed.


That’s it! Three stretches and three exercises you can do right there in your dorm with no special equipment, save for perhaps a thick blanket or rug to soften the floor. Don’t forget to tweet us pictures, videos, or simply a few words about your favorite workouts and how you maintain your health @StatementOnline!