Side Bender

The Side Bender concentrates on loosening the trunk of your body — from your hips to your shoulders.

Pick up your hand weights for this exercise. When you're ready, follow these steps:

1. Stand looking straight ahead with your feet below your hips and your arms dangling at your sides, holding the weights with your palms facing inward.

This is the starting position. Make sure your feet are parallel.

2. Exhaling slowly, turn your head to the right as you lean gently to your right (see Figure 6-6); take two or three slow breaths in this position.

Allow the weight to stretch the left side of your body. You should feel your waistline stretching. Be careful not to lean forward or backward — lean straight to your side. Pretend you're between two walls, one in front of you and one behind.

3. Inhaling slowly, lift your body back to the starting position (see Step 1), turning your head as you lift.

Figure 6-6:

Bend to the side to loosen up the trunk of your body.

Figure 6-6:

Bend to the side to loosen up the trunk of your body.

Alternating sides after each repetition, repeat this exercise two to four times with each side of your body.

Body Twister

The Body Twister is the easiest of the warm-up exercises we provide (which is saying something, because they're all easy!). You can even try this one with a hoola-hoop if you're so inclined. The object of the exercise is to loosen your hips and improve the flexibility of your trunk as a whole.

You need hand weights for this exercise. When you're ready, follow these steps:

1. Stand looking straight ahead with your feet below your hips and the weights held at hip level, palms facing inward.

This is the starting position. Make sure your feet are parallel.

2. Pressing down on your left foot, twist your trunk, neck, head, and shoulders to the right (see Figure 6-7). Hold this pose for two or three relaxed breaths.

3. Return your upper half to the starting position (see Step 1) and take the pressure off your left foot.

Alternating from side to side, repeat this exercise six to eight times on each side of your body.

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