New Year, new you: Week eight
This series completes Sherri McMillan's 2012 “New Year, new you” eight-week health and fitness makeover program. See the full program at www.columbian.com/new-you.
Abdominal alternating leg extension: Lie on your back and lift your legs up, bent at the knee. Position your legs with a 90-degree angle at the knees and hips so your upper thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and brace your spine.
Slowly extend one leg out to a 45-degree angle while the other leg remains still. Return the leg to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. If the exercise is too challenging, do not lower to 45 degrees. If you want to intensify the movement, lower the leg closer to the floor but remember your reference points at all times. Repeat eight to 10 times each leg.
External rotation. Start by standing sideways to a pulley/tube. Attach the handle on the pulley and adjust it so that it is positioned at elbow height. Hold the handle in your outside arm with your elbow at a 90-degree angle and positioned right beside your waist.
With your palm facing the pulley, keep your upper arm completely still and your elbow at your side. Slowly rotate your forearm out away from your body. Return to the starting position. Repeat eight to 20 time each arm.
Full curl-ups. Lie on your back with your knees extended as far as you can while still keeping your low back in contact with the floor. Slowly crunch up, lifting one vertebra at a time off the floor. At about 30 degrees upwards, you’ll reach a “sticking point” where you’ll feel like you’ve hit a brick wall. At this point, it’s important to be patient and muscle through, using your abdominals to overcome the resistance. Don’t bounce or add momentum with your upper body and don’t lift your feet off the floor. Once you’ve almost reached a fully upright, seated position, slowly lower yourself down to the starting position. Do this at a speed of 4 to 5 seconds up and 4 to 5 seconds down in a controlled and slow manner. Do eight to 20 repetitions on each side.
Spinal stretch. Lay on your stomach and prop yourself up on your elbows. Stretch your ribs up and away from your hips. You should feel a good stretch in your back and abdominal region.