Sherri McMillan's New Year, new you: Week five

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So we are now half way through the program. It’s a great time to assess how you’re doing. Based on the goals you set for yourself, how many workouts are you supposed to be adhering to each week? So for example, if you should have done 16 workouts by now but have only completed 14, that’s an 88 percent success ratio. Not bad. If you’ve done 18, that’s above your projection, over achiever! Determine whether you need to stay right on track or whether you need to reassess goals.

If you have missed any of the previous weeks of the eight-week “New Year, New You” program, you can access it at www.columbian.com/new-you. Today we will continue to add onto the program we’ve developed so far.

Follow along with week five here, or in the photo gallery.

Cardio Conditioning: Continue three to five cardio workouts for 20-60 minutes, and this week try using a heart rate monitor during your cardio workouts to track your workout intensity. It will enable you to take a more scientific approach to your cardio training. Try to expend at least 300 calories during each cardio workout.

Muscle Conditioning: Perform one set of each of the exercises you’ve learned up to this point two to three times on alternating days and add on today’s new exercises (intermediate/advanced exercisers can try two sets). Remember to breathe comfortably throughout each exercise, exhaling as you exert and inhaling as you recover. In each of the exercises maintain proper posture and keep your abdominals pulled in.

Lower Body: Side-lying leg lifts. Lay on your side with your body perfectly straight and your abdominals contracted. Lift your top leg until it’s parallel to the floor, then lift the bottom leg to meet the top leg and then slowly lower both legs back to the starting position. Repeat eight to 20 repetitions (reps) on each side.

photoTricep extension. Lay on your back with feet suspended in the air so that upper thighs are perpendicular to the floor and lower legs are parallel to the floor (90-degree angle at hips and knees). Keep your abdominals pulled inwards throughout the entire exercise and back neutral and completely stable. Hold hand weights and position arms so they are extended upwards towards the ceiling and wrists and elbows are positioned over shoulders.
photoSlowly bend your elbows so hand weights lower towards the top of your head. Perform eight to 20 reps total.

Upper Body: Tricep extension. Lay on your back with feet suspended in the air so that upper thighs are perpendicular to the floor and lower legs are parallel to the floor (90-degree angle at hips and knees). Keep your abdominals pulled inwards throughout the entire exercise and back neutral and completely stable. Hold hand weights and position arms so they are extended upwards towards the ceiling and wrists and elbows are positioned over shoulders. Slowly bend your elbows so hand weights lower towards the top of your head. Perform eight to 20 reps total.

photoHeel slides. Take your shoes off. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and both legs bent. Place your hands on your abdominals and contract them so that your abdominal cavity is concave (pulled inwards). Stabilize your spine throughout the entire movement.
photoStart by slowly sliding one foot out over the floor until the leg is almost straight. Then slowly slide it back into the starting position. Then attempt the same movement with the opposite leg.

Torso: Heel slides. Take your shoes off. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and both legs bent. Place your hands on your abdominals and contract them so that your abdominal cavity is concave (pulled inwards). Stabilize your spine throughout the entire movement. Start by slowly sliding one foot out over the floor until the leg is almost straight. Then slowly slide it back into the starting position. Then attempt the same movement with the opposite leg.

Throughout the entire exercise, your two key reference points are that your abdominals must stay pulled inwards and your vertebrae (back) must not move. Your back should be completely stabilized and no arching or flexing of the spine should occur at any time. If this exercise becomes easy, intensify the movement by sliding one leg out while the other leg is sliding in so both legs are moving simultaneously. If this becomes easy, intensify the movement by sliding both legs out and in at the same time. Perform any variation of these exercises for 60 to 90 seconds without stopping.

High Intensity Interval: Stairs. Using either a flight of stairs or a bench, climb up and down for 1 to 2 minutes.

photoHip flexor. Position yourself in a lunge position with your front knee positioned over the front ankle and your back knee positioned comfortably on a mat or towel. Straighten your spine so your posture is fully erect. Lightly press the hip forward. Feel the stretch in the front of the thigh.
photoTo intensify the stretch, keep your body tall, while you rotate your upper body in towards your front knee.

Flexibility: Continue with previous stretches and add today’s stretch.

Hip flexor. Position yourself in a lunge position with your front knee positioned over the front ankle and your back knee positioned comfortably on a mat or towel. Straighten your spine so your posture is fully erect. Lightly press the hip forward. Feel the stretch in the front of the thigh. To intensify the stretch, keep your body tall, while you rotate your upper body in towards your front knee.

Nutrition: Go natural. Increase your intake of organic fruits and veggies, minimize your intake of processed foods and reduce your intake of sugar, salt and caffeine.

Helpful Tip: Collect motivational quotes that you connect with and post them at home and work to inspire you when you’re feeling lazy or uninspired.

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.