Get a Full Workout Using the 5-Finger Exercise Program

Pre-exercise stretching

To build muscle, burn fat, and achieve optimal results from your exercise routine, it’s important to include five essential elements in every workout. You can easily remember these five elements by simply counting them off on the fingers of one hand.

Illustration showing the 5 fingers of a hand

STEP 1 (Thumb): Stretch and elongate your muscles

When stretching for your workout, focus on the idea of reversing the static position that your body has been in for most of the day. Generally, we are in seated and slouched positions for long periods of time, so we want to balance the muscles by moving in the opposite way.

Man doing a hip flexor stretchFor example, for those who spend a lot of time sitting during the day, helpful stretches include:

  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Seated butterfly stretch
  • Downward dog
  • Above the head chest stretch

Perform each stretch for 15-20 seconds prior to your workout.

STEP 2 (Index Finger): Warmup

The ideal warmup should consist of movements that will elevate your core temperature, move your joints through their Range Of Motion, and stimulate your central nervous system. Be sure to include several different exercises in your routine to ensure that joints and muscles are properly warmed up.

Two women doing bird dog warmupsSuggestions include:

  • Plank
  • Bird dog
  • Forward skips
  • Jumping jacks
  • Lunges
  • Lunge with twist

Perform 2-3 exercises for 10 repetitions or 30 seconds per exercise.

STEP 3 (Middle Finger): Strength

Strength training benefits the body by increasing the strength of bones, muscles and connective tissue, as well as increasing muscle mass. Many exercises can be combined to work all major muscle groups and joints.

Man doing a lungeThere are lots of strength exercises you can do that don’t require any special equipment, such as:

  • Squats
  • Pushups
  • Lunges
  • Split squats
  • Hip thrusts
  • Supermans
  • Burpees

Perform 3-5 of these strength exercises for 10-15 repetitions and focus on executing them with balance and CONTROL versus speed of completion.

STEP 4 (Ring Finger): Cardio

Photo of a woman jogging outdoorsCardiovascular exercise helps train the body’s energy systems. Our aerobic system is how we use oxygen to produce energy. First establish your aerobic capacity as a starting point, then try to improve on your base level by doing a bit more each week.

Aerobic training exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Light jogging
  • Jumprope
  • Shadow boxing

Perform one of these exercises for a minimum of 30 minutes and try to get your heart rate up to between 120 and 150 beats per minute.

STEP 5 (Little Finger): Cooldown

Cooldown exercise helps your body switch over from workout into recovery mode. Stretches should be similar to your “Thumb” warmup — for example, light walking or yoga are great ways to cool down. Your cooldown routine should last 5-7 minutes.

And there you have it! Follow the 5-finger exercise program for a complete, balanced workout. Be healthy, fit, and safe!