You’ve had enough time away from the gym and now you’re ready to get back at it. The excuses are gone, you’ve started eating clean and now it’s time to get your workout routine locked down. Before you get started, here are five quick exercises that you can set as benchmarks. Track them to keep you motivated and make notable breakthroughs on your quest to getting back into shape.

Benchmark One: 100 Push-ups

Avoid flaring your elbows out as that can cause a lot of excess pressure on the anterior part of your shoulders. Keep elbows in tight (45 degree angle) and your core engaged. Start out doing sets of push-ups. For starters try 10 sets of 10 and progress from there.

Advanced: Get to a point where you can rock out 100 push-ups without stopping.

Benchmark Two: 20 Pull-ups

If you have trouble performing a pull-up, be sure to use the assisted pull-up machine. For proper technique, lead with your chest keeping your shoulders back while looking up. Drive your elbows to the floor and squeeze your back on the way up. Straighten your arms and breathe at the bottom. Avoid swinging the hips as that takes pressure off of the primary muscles. Start out performing 4 sets of 5

Advanced: Do 20 perfect form pull-ups without any rest or assistance.

Benchmark Three: 25 Dips

If you have trouble performing dips be sure to use the assisted dip machine. To ensure you're using proper form, make sure you keep your chest up tall, bend your knees and keep your elbows directly behind you as you descend. Lower yourself to a 90 degree bend in your elbow. At the top of the movement lock your elbows, squeeze your triceps and breathe. Perform 5 sets of 5 until you reach 25.

Advanced: Do your best to get 25 dips without any rest or assistance.

See Benchmarks Four and Five >>

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Plank Position

Benchmark Four: 3-Minute Push-up Plank Holds

When getting back into fitness be sure to work your core back into shape. Take advantage of the push-up plank hold. Keep your shoulders above your hands and your head in line with your butt. Squeeze your core and squeeze your glutes. Avoid sagging the hips. For the beginner, do 9 sets of 20 seconds.

Advanced: Hold proper form for 2 sets of a minute and a half each.

Benchmark Five: One Hour of Steady State Cardio

Work yourself back into cardiovascular shape. Start out by doing 20 minutes of cardio within your VO2 max range of 60-70 percent. Do your best to not hold on to the sides or lean on the machine. Start out doing 20 minutes 3 days a week and then progress up from there.

Advanced: Go 1 hour with your VO2 Max between 60-70% without stopping.

About the Trainer: Dave Dreas

Dave Dreas is a fitness personality located in Scottsdale, AZ. He is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and currently trains hundreds of clients to live a more fit, healthier lifestyle. For more on Dave you can follow him on his Facebook Page.