McMillan: New year workout adds a few twists

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photoSherri McMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training.
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How are you going to feel as you bring in the new year on Jan. 1? I can imagine you want to be looking good and feeling great! No problem, you've still got four weeks before all the big parties start.

Last week, you began your five-week blitz program. This week, we add a few new exercises to your workout and mix up your cardio.

Cardio: Start with a short, easy five-minute warm-up. Then begin your 20-minute cardio segment involving any activity of your choice, including running, walking, cycling, or stair climbing. Start with three minutes at a moderate/easy pace; and then for two minutes, pick up the pace and perform a high-intensity interval. Perform this set four times for a 20-minute workout. Do this workout three times this week on alternating days.

Muscle conditioning

Wall slides + leg extension: Start by standing up against a wall. Place your arms against the wall in a "stick-up" position. Keep your elbows and wrists pressed against the wall throughout the entire exercise. Slowly lift one foot off the floor until your knee is at hip height. Avoid leaning too much into the supporting leg and hip. Once the knee is at hip height, slowly extend it out until it is almost straight. While lifting the knee, simultaneously reach both arms overhead until they are fully extended. Keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise and your back stable and neutral. Perform eight to 10 reps each side per set.

Bridging + flies: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Hold hand weights. Keep your abdominals pulled in throughout the entire exercise. Position your arms at your side with your elbows only slightly bent. Slowly press your hips up toward the ceiling until your body weight is resting on your shoulder blades. While lifting your hips, simultaneously press both arms upwards toward the center of your body. Return your hips and arms to the starting position. Perform 8-12 reps per set.

Crunches + leg lifts: Lay on your back with your feet on the floor. Tuck your chin in slightly, focusing your eyes at a 45-degree angle, this will help keep your neck in a neutral position. Slowly curl up to a comfortable position and slowly return to the starting position -- make sure that your rib cage moves forward toward your hips. Keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise. As you curl up, simultaneously pull your legs off the floor and in toward your upper body. Repeat 8-20 times.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com.