To Your Health
March, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 03)
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Dynamic Warm-Ups

Once the core warm-ups look easy and feel easy, you can stop doing them as a precursor to your workouts.

Instead, begin your workout program with the following dynamic warm-ups:

Straight leg swings: Swing your leg forward and keep it straight. Only go as high as your flexibility allows. You will feel this in your hamstring (back of leg). Try 8-10 reps.

Plie squat: Stand with your feet wide, toes pointing out. Maintain erect posture and tighten abs; inhale and lower yourself straight down. Exhale as you push up through your heels and squeeze your glutes. Do 8-10 reps.

Forward lunge: Stand with your feet hip width apart and abs tight. Take a big step forward with your right leg, allowing your right knee to bend at 90 degrees. When your foot touches the ground, the back leg will also bend. Exhale and push back with the right foot, pushing through the heel. Repeat for 10 reps or so and then switch legs. You will feel this in your glutes and quads.

Warrior lunge: Start with feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward and abs tight. Take a big step backward with the left leg, allowing the right knee to bend to 90 degrees. Simultaneously extend both arms up toward the ceiling to feel a stretch in your hip flexor. Push off with your left foot to return to start, allowing your arms to drop back down to your sides. Alternate back and forth until you have completed all reps (10 per side).

8 Exercise Routines to Choose From

Routine 1

Squat: Start with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out only slightly. Take a deep breath and squat down. Pretend you are moving the hips backward to sit in a chair. Feel the body weight pressing down through both heels. Lower yourself to a knee bend where the thighs are parallel to the floor (at least 90 degrees). At the bottom, think "butt" and activate the gluteal muscles to help return to the start position while breathing out - this helps support the spine. Start with body weight only, performing 8 repetitions; progress to using a dowel or light bar across the chest. This can be progressed by holding dumbbells or a kettlebell in one hand or both hands. Aim to increase the weight you can lift for 8 reps.

Pull-ups: Hang from a chin-up bar with an underhand grip, your hands spaced about shoulder-width apart and arms straight. Pull yourself up as you keep your elbows pointing down, and then slowly drop to the starting position. Make sure your chin goes above the bar on each repetition. If you can't even do one, be persistent; eventually you will be able to. Try to build to 5 reps.

push up - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Push-ups: Standard push-ups: Get in a push-up position with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Bend at the elbows while keeping your back straight, until your chin almost touches the floor, then push back up. Do 6 reps. Once you've got this down, progress to stability ball push-ups. This takes your push-ups to the next level - doing them with your feet on a stability ball. Keep your body straight; don't let your hips sag or stick your butt up in the air. This has core-strengthening benefits and arm benefits. Do as many as you can with strict form.

Repeat Routine (Remember Your 20-Minute Limit)

Routine 2

Stability ball hammy: Perform this exercise with the soles of your feet on a stability ball and your back on the floor. Start with the whole back on the floor, knees slightly bent, with legs up on the ball. Push down through the feet into the ball, pushing the hips up at the same time. Lift hips until there is a straight line through the knee, hip and shoulder, keeping upper back and neck on the floor. Lower your hips to an inch off the ground, then repeat. Start with 8 reps with two feet on the ball and build to 15 reps as you get stronger.

Overhead shoulder press: Begin to perform with a band with handles, progress to a pair of dumbbells, then progress to a kettlebell. When using the band, stand on the band with both feet with a handle in each hand. Stand with good posture, holding the handles at your side, palms facing sides, raise the arms to shoulder height, then raise the arms overhead. Keep the elbows stiff. The finish position is with the hands above the head, palms facing forward. Retain good posture, without using the trunk or rotating the body during the movement, and finish with shoulders wide and relaxed. Start with 8 reps, aiming to increase the weight lifted but continuing with 8 reps. If you are using the kettlebell, you can press one arm at a time and then switch sides. (Can also be performed on one leg to challenge stability.)