Every year for as long as I can remember, I approach this time of the year with a list of New Year’s Resolutions. Mine tend to be vague or nonspecific …lose 5-10 pounds, tone up, do more yoga, pay off bills and have debt freedom, make good grades, get this degree or certification, meet Mr. Right… that sort of thing. I’m just like anyone else with that regard. I do consider myself a work in progress but with no end date.
FITNESS, TONING, AND/OR WEIGHT LOSS…
A lot of people often make the fitness or lose weight resolutions and that’s great. I’m no exception. For me, I regularly exercise as well as teach fitness so instead I thought about maybe doing some exercise tweaking in areas I already focus one. You know, make them more effective or make my clients dislike me at the time but love me later. So if you too regularly exercise but want to try something new, this is for you. If you are new to exercise or feel lost, this is also for you. Thought I’d share:
For abdominals, change your approach and instead think core! The core is made up of quite a few muscles verses only one muscle group like the ever popular Rectus Abdominis. Think torso and you pretty much have core. To target the many muscles in your core, you have to change your approach from exercises such as the crunch.
One of your best core exercises is that of the plank. What makes the plank awesome is that you collectively target all sorts of muscles all at the same time. Talk about multitasking and time management! WIN-WIN!!!
To challenge your core, consider exploring many variations to prevent boredom and up the intensity!
– make plank harder/more challenging by reducing “contact points.” Contact points are body parts on the ground supporting your body. Forearm plank is less challenging (easier) than high plank or the yoga Chaturanga because it has more support than the other two. Side plank is more challenging than regular plank. Now hold!
– try flowing between moves. Try this one. Come into Dolphin pose and then drift forward into Low plank/forearm plank. Do a few back and forth holding a few breaths in each pose.
– try lifting an arm or leg or both (opposite ones though)
– add a little object transfer. This works for forearm plank. Set up some light weights on the outside of your left forearm. Reach across with your right arm and transfer one weight at a time to outside of your right forearm. Move back to the left and finally back to the right. Try 5 weighted objects.
– Become Spider-Man and allow your legs to mimic climbing.
Here is another great core exercise. I call this one extended crunches.
– start by lying on your back. Extend your legs straight up in the air like “legs up the wall pose.” Bend your left leg and place your ankle on your right quad. Now, extend your arms straight up in the air. Extend your leg and arms out so that they are approximately 45 degrees. Now crunch. You’ll feel your abs, shoulders, and legs working at the same time.
– this definitely takes your crunch to the next level!
I’m always working the butt, but as I analyze my exercises, I realize that I tend to only target one muscle at a time when the butt has three (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) muscles. So why not target all three at the same time kind of like how the plank effectively targets the core.
– bridge. Reduce your contact points by lifting toes toward ceiling so only your heels are grounded into the floor. Maybe place arms across your torso. Now pulse the hips up and down. Try 12-15, hold up, sway hips rocking left up and then right up for 10. Rest for a moment, then try another set or two.
Maybe you are making up your list of resolutions (just as I am). What I’m doing differently is considering techniques verses statements like “I want to lose 10 pounds by…,” or I will go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The reason why I am taking this approach was that recently I made some significant progress with my yoga practice where quite a few challenging poses became available and I finally perfected them. (I’m beyond thrilled). It was consistency, patience, multitasking moves, and mindfulness as to what my body was doing.
Now, back to those moves above (plank, extended crunch, and bridge). Those are just some tweaks to some exercise moves that I and maybe even you already pursue. Nice thing about this approach is that you are just enhancing or changing it up and keeping your body guessing as you target multiple muscles at the same time. And these are two areas (core and butt) on the body that tend to be on just about everyone’s list!!! They are often requested areas when I ask my clients what they want me to highlight during class.
So keep exercising and do a little multitasking too! I’ll be adding these within my own routine and in my classes too.