Missionary Workouts

This is for anyone, really! Feel free to try it out!

Dear Elder/Sister,
      I may never meet you in this life, but I do care about your well-being.  I know what it is like to be away from home and to feel homesick.  I know what it is like to feel depressed.  I know what it is like to feel stir crazy or out of shape.   I have taken anxiety/panic attack medication for almost 20 years.  Exercise has helped me more than anything I have tried.  I cannot promise you that all your problems will be solved through exercise, but you will only know if it helps if you try it out.  There is no other way to know.  Here is what we know about exercise:
1.        Exercise can improve your self-esteem.  When you look better, you feel better.
2.       Exercise can become a life changing activity.  It becomes a part of your life style.
3.       Exercise causes your body to release chemicals called endorphins.  Endorphins can reduce pain, trigger positive feelings, and even make you feel euphoric. 
Getting Started:
1.       * If you have any pre-existing health problems/injuries/ recent surgeries, etc., you should see a doctor before beginning any exercise program.
a.        If an exercise is causing pain, stop doing it.  Your technique may be incorrect. 
b.      Soreness and stiffness are common when you start out, so begin gradually.
c.       Pain is different than soreness and stiffness.  The saying, “No Pain = No Gain”, was written by someone with no brain.  “Oh be wise, what can I say more?” (Jacob 6:12)
2.       Work out with your companion.  You can ‘encourage’ each other.
3.       NEVER, NEVER, NEVER do the same exact workout two times in a row.  Every workout should be different in some way.  Therefore you should:
a.        Change the exercises you are doing.
b.      Change to a variation of the exercise you are doing.
c.       Change the number of sets and repetitions you do.
d.      Change the resistance/weight you are using for each individual exercise.
e.      Change the number of days you work out.  If you aren’t recovered, REST!
f.        Variety is the spice of life, so change it up.  You won’t get bored and quit!
Set and Repetitions – Where do I start?
1.       Start by doing 1-2 sets of 8-10 repetitions.  After that, use variations such as 2-3 x 8-10 or 2-3 x 10-12 or 2-3 x 12-15 or 2-3 x 15-20 or 2-3 x 20-30 or more.  You can do 4 or 5 sets if you have time, but generally, 2-3 sets are sufficient.  For something different to do, try 1 or 2 sets to failure with each selected exercise.  It is very challenging!
The ‘5’ Minute Workout (“ I don’t have time.” Excuse = You have 5 minutes)
1.       Select just 2 exercises.  Then, alternate them without stopping, for 5 full minutes.  Do 10 reps of one, then 10 reps of the other, alternating back and forth.  You will be very surprised what kind of workout you get.  Not fast reps, but Perfect Reps.
Exercises you can do in your apartments or in a small area (Select as many as you want)
1.        Pushups (different kinds so you don’t go crazy.)
a.        Regular – straight body, touch your nose lightly each rep.
b.      Sister Pushups or standing wall pushups = I did these after shoulder surgeries myself, so don’t be offended.  Instead of up on hands and toes, just go hands and knees for ‘sister pushups’.  But keep your body aligned straight, no fannies in the air stuff.  For wall pushups, stand back 2-3’ from the wall, put your hands on the wall with straight arms.  Now, bend at the elbow (your face moves closer to the wall, don’t break your nose).  Then simply extend your arms, pushing your bodyweight outward from the wall.
c.       Position Holds – Do these randomly in a set of 10 or more.  Go halfway down and hold 5 sec.; go all the way down but don’t touch and hold for 5 sec.
d.       Feet on the bed – this gives you a deep angle and works things differently;
e.      One Arm or have your comp put a weight on your upper back, any type of weight.
f.        Clapping pushups in front and if you progress, behind your back clapping.
g.       Wall pushups with your body aligned vertically with the wall.  Head down, feet up!
2.        Squats
a.        Bodyweight squats – (Start out with 1-2 sets of 8-10 perfect parallel squats, then progress later to  3-4 sets of 20-25 reps and see how that goes)  Keep your feet a little outside your shoulders, toes turned outward 30 degrees.  Keep your toes and kneecaps aligned.  Concentrate on starting the movement with your gluteus muscles, by pushing your hind end straight down.  Go to a quads parallel position as that activates your hamstrings.  A quarter squat ruins your knees and makes your hamstrings weak.  If I can do them with a fused back, so can you.   NEVER START A SQUAT REP BY PUSHING YOUR KNEES FORWARD (It is the #1 mistake when squatting).  Also, never, never look at the ceiling, as it misaligns your spine.  Instead, pick a point 12-15 feet in front of you and keep your eyes on that point.
b.      I used to squat with my companion on my shoulders.  Probably not a good idea, but it did make us laugh pretty hard.  My Polynesian throwers could do this.
c.       Squat holding your pastas/brief case at your side.  Make them heavier if you want.
d.      Single leg squats – Keep one leg bent with your toes touching your bed or chair and squat your bodyweight with the other leg.
e.      Walking Lunges = Back and forth, front knee bends to parallel, back knee touches.
3.        BURPEES – This is a combination of the first two exercises.  Start as in a squat position.  Squat to parallel – dive into a pushup position and do a pushup – come out of the pushup and jump and reach.  Start the next burpee with a squat again.  Do random numbers of these.  You will be surprised how tough they are if you do them correctly.  For fun and to test yourself, do 12 of these and see for yourself.  (
4.       Jumping Jack Presses:  Find anything that weighs enough to give you a workout.  Your feet jump apart back and forth normally, but instead of the arms/hands moving outward, you pop the weight overhead on each one you do.  Random sets/reps.
5.       Planks for 30 sec. up to 2:00 min. – It is basically a pushup position that you hold for a certain time.  The difference is that your arms are bent and you are resting on your elbows, and up on your toes.  You can also do a ‘Reverse Plank’ – belly button pointing at the ceiling.
6.       Bodyweight calf raise.  Do double or single leg.  High numbers of reps per set are best , like a minimum of 20 per set.  Donkey Calf Raise – Always made my classes laugh out loud, but super effective.  Your buddy sits on your low back, meaning you have your hands on a bench or chair while keeping your back parallel to the floor, legs straight, and then doing the movement with your calf muscles.  Bray like a donkey if it helps.
7.       Partner Rowing – Sit facing each other with the soles of your feet/shoes touching like the Joseph Smith stick pull.  You can pull back and forth giving the person pulling some resistance, or just have one person do the resistance and complete a set and then switch.  You can apply resistance both directions too if you want.  Bodyweight Rowing = Hang on to something and just lay back at an angle & pull yourself forward.
8.        Terrible Towel Tricep Press – This can be done kneeling down with your bent arms out over a chair.  You hold on to the two ends of the towel and your comp stands behind giving you resistance as you extend your arms.  These will kill you if done correctly.  Don’t apply so much resistance if you are the person standing behind as the movement will come to a halt or never get started.
9.       Split Jumps – Jump as high as is comfortable and split your feet back and forth.  As you land, you immediately jump again.  You can do these for strength with lower reps like 6-8 each leg and really get low, or you can do high reps for cardio like 15-25 per leg.
10.   Partner standing twists – Stand back to back and get something you can pass back and forth.  Twist and take, twist and take, then switch direction randomly.  Higher reps are best.
11.   Lateral side plank – These are done with one arm on the floor with your body in a lateral position (stomach faces outward instead of downward like a pushup).  So you are balancing on one hand and one foot, keeping a straight line between them.  To make it harder, raise the opposite arm and extend it outward and upward from your body as you balance.  Switch sides.  (Do these for time, not reps)
12.   You could use some surgical tubing or bands to do different types of curls or numerous other exercises common to the weight room.  I used bands to recover from major back fusion surgery and did all my exercises lying in bed.  I invented a ton of things to do and it made life bearable.  Find something heavy and just lift it some way.  I have filled buckets with water and done curls, overhead presses, etc.
13.   Bear Crawl – Just like the name says, get on all fours and crawl specific or random distances.  You can do these slowly, or you can do them fast.  You can do these in any direction, forward, backward or laterally for 10’ to 50’ if you have room/space.
14.   Spider crawl – Same as above but belly button pointed at the ceiling.
15.   Wheelbarrows – you are in a pushup position with hands on the floor but your comp picks up your legs, shin area and you start walking until you can’t go anymore.  You can do this on flat ground or you can walk the stairs/hills which my female athletes could master and often 40 + steps on their hands!
16.   Any Abdominal Stuff – You can dream up a lot of ways to work your abs.  You will be surprised how much the plank works your abs. 
17.   Choose enough exercises that you get a FULL BODY WORKOUT. 
I hope this will be a great help to both elders and sisters.  I am 63 years old and have worked out all my life.  Everything I wrote above, I will be doing also.  Remember that it is a proven fact that exercise can help you not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, especially when you are feeling down or discouraged.  There are so many other things you can dream up.  Use your imagination.  Once you get going on this, I promise you, your mind will open to a lot of new things.  I have coached hundreds of athletes and students at the college level and this simple “I don’t have a weight room workout” will work if you work.  If you need help, talk to Sister Cox and she will get ahold of me.  May the Lord be with you each and every day.
Best Wishes,
Elder Sonderegger

Brazil Central Mission – 1971-1973

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