Three Quick Exercises for Busy Students

Ken Okada in the Oakland student gym
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

“College students are notorious for having poor posture, but who can blame them? They spend hours upon hours sitting and hunched over books and computers. The result? Rounded shoulders, weak upper back muscles, and poor hip flexibility, just to name a few. Luckily, SMU opened a new students-only gym on the Oakland campus this year and it’s a great place to stay fit and healthy. Here are three exercises for all SMU students to try. I’ll see you in the gym!” - Ken Okada, DPT Class of 2019

Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Grab a yoga mat or a pad.
  2. Get into the bottom of a lunge stance.
  3. Maintain good posture by keeping your torso upright. Don’t let your hips tilt too much in either direction. Maintain a neutral back.
  4. Lean forward on your front leg. You should feel a stretch in front of your hip of the leg that is behind you. You may need to adjust the width and length of your stance to make this stretch easier or more challenging.
  5. You can enhance this stretch by reaching the arm that is on the same side of the stretch upward.
  6. Hold this position for 30–60 seconds. Repeat on the other hip.

Goblet Squat

  1. Pick up a kettlebell or a dumbbell with both hands and hold the weight close to the chest while keeping your shoulders set back and down. Keep your chest up and don’t slouch forward.
  2. Feet should be about shoulder width apart. Point the toes forward or slightly out depending on what is most comfortable.
  3. Push your hips back like you’re sitting in a chair and descend into a squat by bending at the knees; allow your knees to track over your toes. Don’t let your knees cave in!
  4. The lower back should not round out at the bottom. Keep your feet flat and don’t let your knees travel excessively farther than your toes. Keep your chest up and maintain good posture.
  5. Return to the starting position. Your hips and shoulders should begin to rise at the same time. If the weight is too heavy, the hips may start to move before the upper body and put the back into a compromising position.
  6. Try 3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.


  1. Start on the floor by getting on your elbows and feet. It should look somewhat like a push-up position.
  2. Hold this position for 30 seconds or more. Some people will be able to hold this position for minutes.
  3. Keep your body as straight as a (you guessed it) plank. Engage your quads, glutes, and abdominal muscles.
  4. Don’t let your hips bend or your lower back arch or round. You shouldn’t look like an A-frame!

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