5-move workout: Core/upper body

It doesn’t take a genius to know why the chest, abs and arms are nicknamed the “beach muscles”.

A well-rounded workout program targets all parts of your body… but there’s nothing wrong with occasionally just targeting the ones you most want to flaunt in summer.

The strength-focused circuit in this video has five moves, and for each move there’s an easy exercise option and a hard exercise option — choose the one that suits your fitness ability.

After you’ve warmed up do each exercise for 40 seconds, take a 20-second break, then move onto the next one. Once you’ve finished all five, take a 60-second break (if needed), then repeat the whole circuit at least four times. Download an interval timer app on your phone to keep track on the timing.

Exercise 1

Easy: Hover — moving. Lay face down with your forearms on the floor and your elbows stacked directly under your shoulders. Your hips, shoulders and ears are in a straight line, with your knees on the ground. From here, bring your right hand to where your right elbow was and push off the floor as you bring your left hand to where your left elbow was. Then lower yourself down in reverse, controlling the descent rather than dropping with gravity. Each circuit, change the leading hand.

Hard: Plank — moving. Start in the same position as the hover, but lift your knees from the floor — tuck your hips under to stop your lower back arching, pull your bellybutton up tight, and pull the muscles in the fronts of your legs up to the bone. Hold your core tight to prevent your hips from swivelling — if you can’t keep them square with your shoulders, widen your feet for better stability.

Exercise 2

Easy: Single leg raises. Lie face-up with your knees up and feet on the floor. This is important: brace your abs to press your lower back into the floor through this exercise. Your bellybutton should be pulled tight down to your spine. Lift one foot off the floor until your knee is directly above your hip, then lower as you lift the other knee.

Hard: Bicycle kicks. Start from the same position as the single leg raise, with your hands behind your ears. Pull your lower ribs into your hips to lift your shoulders from the floor. Lift your knees one at a time — as you do, pull the opposite shoulder across to the knee while holding your elbows wide. Focus on leading from the shoulder to feel the squeeze down the size of your body, rather than yanking your elbow across.

Exercise 3

Easy: Side plank on knee. Lie sideways with your elbow stacked under your shoulder (drive your elbow into the floor and use the muscles under your armpit to prevent “sinking” into your shoulder). Your shoulders, hips and bottom knee are in a straight line — squeeze your butt to bring your hips forward. Aim to hold this position for the whole 40 seconds, taking a break if needed. On the next circuit, switch sides.

Hard: Side plank on foot. Same as above, but your feet are stacked on top of each other. Don’t let your hips sag to the floor. If you feel like you have a blowtorch on your side by the end of the 40 seconds: good! That means you’re doing it right.

Exercise 4

Easy: Tricep press on box — bent knees. Find a solid surface — a box, a chair, a bench, or whatever. Put your hands on the front edge with the heels of your palms facing away from you and elbows tucked in close, and legs bent in front of you. Keeping your elbows pointed directly behind you, bend them to lower yourself. It’s important to keep your back close to the box so it’s almost brushing the edge as your body tracks up and down. Lower until your elbows are at least 90 degrees, then push through your hands to lift back up.

Hard: Tricep press on box — straight legs. Follow the set-up for the exercise above, but this time keep your legs out ahead of you to up the difficulty. (They don’t have to be dead straight, so long as your weight rests on your heels.) To progress this movement even further elevate your heels on another box or surface, so long as your back stays close to the front edge of the box and your chest stays upright and proud.

Exercise 5

Easy: Push-up — knees. Start with your hands stacked directly underneath your shoulders, and your knees on the floor about hip-width apart. Lower your chest to the floor by bending your elbows — don’t crane your neck forwards to get your nose closer to the ground. (That’s cheating!) If push-ups from your knees are too challenging, do them from all fours; or, do them with your hands on a bench or table, or up against a wall.

Hard: Push-up — toes. As above, but from your toes. Make sure you can come down to at least elbow height — if not, regress to the push-up on your toes. Again, it’s super important to keep your head and neck in a straight line throughout the movement, and don’t drop your nose towards the floor.

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