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mbg moves with Helen Phelan: Upper Body + Core Routine

Helen Phelan
Certified Pilates Instructor By Helen Phelan
Certified Pilates Instructor
Helen Phelan is body neutral pilates instructor, intuitive eating coach, reiki practitioner, prenatal/postpartum corrective exercise specialist.
mbg Moves with Helen Phelan

Welcome to mbg moves! In 2020, we've been working out at home more than ever—and we know our readers are, too. To help keep your fitness routine feeling fresh, we're releasing a new at-home workout every Monday, to start your week off strong. Each month will feature routines from a different incredible trainer we adore. Our December trainer spotlight: Helen Phelan

This year, many of my students have told me that since they now do every workout at home, they're gravitating toward quick, efficient routines. That's why I've created this bodyweight upper-body workout, which will help build stronger shoulder, arm, and core muscles—all in less than 15 minutes. It also plays with your body's own resistance to improve body awareness and mental endurance. For an extra challenge and spice, you can grab a light set of dumbbells (think 2 to 3 pounds). Otherwise, all you need is your body and some motivation.

Your 4-week challenge: Every week this month (keep an eye out for a new workout every Monday), I'll be sharing a routine that targets various parts of your body, all with some core work. By the end of the month, I encourage you to make core work a regular part of your weekly routine—whether that's one day a week, three, or even daily. I can't wait to hear how you do!

Summary

Time: 15 minutes
Equipment: None
Instructions: Move from one exercise to the next, as instructed, without rest. Complete eight breaths total for each movement. Note: The below sequence is a modified version of the full upper body and core video.

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Tabletop Triceps Pushup

Helen Phelan - Tabletop Triceps Pushup

Image by mbg Creative

  1. Start on all fours, in a tabletop position. Stack shoulders right on top of the hands and hips right over knees.
  2. Keep your elbows pointed toward your knees. Inhale as you bend the elbows and bring your chest toward the floor. Go as far down as you can, try to line your nose up with your fingertips.
  3. Engage your core, and slowly lift your chest back up to start. Keep your chest open, but don't arch your back. Repeat for 8 breaths.

Arm Circles

Helen Phelan - Arm Circles

Image by mbg Creative

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your legs hip-width apart, activating the inner thighs. Without arching your back, lift your arms to the side of your body.
  2. Slowly move your arms in small circles, activating your arms and maintaining control. Keep your arms at shoulder height.
  3. Continue for 8 breaths, then reverse direction and repeat.

Hug the World

Helen Phelan - Hug The World

Image by mbg Creative

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your legs hip-width apart, activating the inner thighs. Without arching your back, lift your arms to the side of your body.
  2. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, inhale and hug your arms inward.
  3. Exhale as you bring the arms back to start, opening up your chest as you do so.
  4. Repeat for 8 breaths.

Single-Leg Tabletop Triceps Pushup

Helen Phelan - Single-Leg Tabletop Tricep Pushup

Image by mbg Creative

  1. Start on all fours, in a tabletop position. Stack the shoulders right on top of the hands, and your hips right over your knees.
  2. Extend one leg out, keeping it at hip height. Be sure the hips stay parallel. Keep your elbows pointed toward your knees.
  3. Inhale as you bend your elbows and bring your chest toward the floor. Go as far down as you can, try to line your nose up with your fingertips. Press the opposite shin into the ground.
  4. Engage your core, and slowly lift your chest back up to start. Keep your chest open, but don't arch your back. Repeat for 8 breaths.
  5. Complete arm circles and hug the world again, then repeat this movement on the opposite side.

Plank With Shoulder Retraction

Helen Phelan - Plank With Shoulder Rotation

Image by mbg Creative

  1. Get into a high plank position, with your hands stacked right under your shoulders. Engage your core to stabilize your plank.
  2. Inhale, as you allow your chest to lower and your shoulder blades to press together.
  3. Exhale as you lift your body back to a plank position, spreading your shoulder blades apart. Repeat for 5 breaths.

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