Sunday, July 19, 2009

An Off-Day Workout To Repair And Strengthen Your Body

There's no better way to rebuild and strengthen your body, than to take a couple days a week outside of your regular workout schedule to focus on the weak areas of your body.

By doing this you will discover that you are much more mobile and therefore stronger in your workouts, providing you with better results from the work and effort that you do put forth.

This workout is less intense than one of your regular workouts and you only need to perform it twice a week on an off-day.

So, 3 of the exercises I'm going to start with involve a tennis ball and a foam roller and in total I'm going to cover 11 exercises along with an abs circuit.

Now, if you have a tender area in your calf, it's going to get worse before it gets better, but this is what you can do.

First sit down and put your calf on top of the tennis ball. Next, find the sore spots on your calf and roll your leg over the tennis ball in each area 10 times, several times per day if need be.

If you don't have the foam roller, then you can always skip this component of it. There are a number of exercises you can do, but there are two main ones that office workers should focus on.

First, place your upper back onto the roller, pointing your elbows to the ceiling. This will help expose the muscle as you roll back and forth over the foam roller 10 times.

Another hot spot for people is the IT band. This area starts just below your knee and extends all the way to the hip. So, position your body on its side on top of the roller, using your hands and opposite foot to support your body. Roll back and forth for 10 times and then switch over to the other side.

After completing those exercises you'll jump into an overhead squat. Although you did this exercise in your warm-up, it's a very good exercise for finding your weak points.

If you find that it's difficult for you to even get in this position, then you know your chest is tight. As you come down, if you find that you are leaning forward, then that indicates that your calves or hip flexors are tight. So make sure that you spend some time to stretch the areas that are preventing you from doing a good overhead squat.

After doing 10-12 repetitions of that exercise, you will then do a chest stretch, holding for 30 seconds. Many people have a tendency to be tight through the chest area due to bad posture, so this exercise will help relieve some of that tension. You can also place your other arm behind your back to really open up your chest.

Once you completed the chest stretch, find a wall to do stick-ups. With your butt, shoulder blades, head, elbows, wrists, and head against the wall, slide everything up and then tuck your elbows back in. Sounds a lot easier than it is and if you're a desk worker, then you're going to have a difficult time with this exercise.

The remaining 5 exercises are all going to be done on the ground. You'll start out with the hip extension where you will hold the top position for 15-30 seconds. Focus on squeezing your butt with a little bit of emphasis on the hamstrings and lower back.

Immediately after the hip extension, move into the stability ball leg curl. Place your heels on the ball, bridge your hips up and curl the ball in and back out. Be sure not to drop your hips during this exercise.

Now, I'll have you do some basic abdominal exercises. For the plank, get on your elbows and place your body in a straight line. Bring your shoulder blades together a little bit, brace your abs, head straight and just on your toes.

Once you're done the regular plank, switch over and do the side plank for each side. Nothing fancy here, but we all need to re-master the basics sometimes.

The last exercise actually has 5 components to it. The WYLIT or the "W" exercise, the "Y" exercise, the "L" exercise, the "I" exercise, and the "T" exercise. Each of the WYLIT exercises is great for improving shoulder mobility.

Here you will start with the "W" movement, which is similar to the Stick-up. Place your chest on the ball and body in a straight line. Tuck you elbows into your sides so it looks like a "W" at the bottom and then push them out.

Next is the "Y" exercise. Place your arms in the "Y" position with your thumbs pointing towards the ceiling. This is a small movement done by the muscles between the shoulder blades. Be sure to really focus on starting this movement between your shoulder blades, so try to limit the work your shoulders do.

After the "Ys", you will do the "L" movement. This is an external rotation type of exercise. Then move into the "I" exercise by extending your arms straight out in front of you and raising your arms upwards.

The last exercise of the WYLIT is also the easiest, but your body will be fatigued at this point. So, position your arms in a "T" to your body, with thumbs pointing up, and lift your arms up. For the WYLIT, perform each of the exercises for 10-12 repetitions.

Now that you've done all the above exercises, you're ready for a 3-exercise abs circuit.

To start, I'll have you do one of my favourites, the stability ball ab rollout. So, place your knees on a mat, extend your arms in front and rollout, using your abs to roll back in. As you go out, you'll stretch your abdominals, and as you come in you will contract your abdominals. This is a very powerful exercise that can put soreness on your abs like any round of crunches.

Next up, you have your choice of X-body mountain climbers. One way is with your feet on the ball and hands down on the ground, bringing your right knee to your left elbow, alternating sides. If that exercise is too difficult, then you can always do the regular one on the ground.

The final exercise in the off-day workout is the classic plank with elbows on the ball. So place your body in a straight line and brace your abs. The further your elbows are out in front of you, the harder this exercise becomes.

So for the 11 exercise circuit you can go through it 2-3 times, taking 15-20 minutes and then you're good to go for the 30 minute activity on your off-day.

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