The Dolphin

The Dolphin is a weighted variation of a classic yoga pose. The version we introduce is truly a full-body strengthener. The pose reverses the blood flow in your legs, which is good for circulation and reducing bloating and water retention in your ankles, and exercises your hamstrings, calves, and Achilles tendons. The exercise is also a powerful upper-body builder because you have to support your body with the muscles in your upper half.

Strap on your ankle weights and follow these steps:

Kneel with your elbows below your shoulders, your knees below your hips, your forearms and hands flat on the floor in front of you, and your toes curled onto the floor (see Figure 10-8a).

Spread your fingers wide for support.

Don't let your elbows splay out beyond your shoulders. Doing so can make your shoulders roll in, which can cause injury to your rotator cuff.

Press down into your forearms, hands, and the balls of your feet as you lift your buttocks into the air (see Figure 10-8b).

This is the starting position. You should be looking back at your legs. Your head shouldn't touch the floor at any time; let it dangle between your arms and elbows as you press your wrists and forearms downward.

Press your hands, wrists, and forearms into the floor for support. Support your body with your shoulders as well as your arms and legs. Feel your armpits lifting toward the ceiling and forward toward your hands.

As you inhale to a count of four, extend your right leg directly behind you so it forms a straight line with your torso (see Figure 10-8c).

If you feel too much stress on your shoulders, press into your hands, wrists, and forearms to put more weight on those areas.

As you exhale to a count of four, slowly lower your leg to the starting position (see Figure 10-8b).

Moving your leg slowly is important for your balance. Keep your hips squared; don't turn or wobble them as you lift and lower your leg.

Do this exercise six to eight times on each leg, pause to rest, and then do another six to eight repetitions on each leg.

Figure 10-8:

The Dolphin challenges your upper body as you lift your legs.

The Lift

Of all the strengthening exercises in this workout, the Lift concentrates the most on strengthening the back of your body — the back of your arms, spine, and legs. The Lift is also a concentration-coordination exercise that challenges your ability to control your body. The Lift squeezes and tones your kidneys and works out the muscles of your abdomen.

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

1. Lie flat on your belly with your forehead touching the floor and your arms at your sides holding the hand weights, palms facing upward (see Figure 10-9a).

This is the starting position. Shrug your shoulders slightly to move your arm bones into the shoulder girdle. Draw your belly in and up and your tailbone down for support.

2. As you inhale to a count of four, raise your chin, arms, and legs up into the air as far as you comfortably can (see Figure 10-9b).

Feel your entire body working. Your abdominal muscles should bear most of the weight of your body as your trunk supports you.

If you aren't yet strong enough to hold the hand weights in the air, do this exercise without them. Remove the weights from your legs as well if you have too much trouble lifting your legs.

3. As you exhale to a count of four, lower your lifted parts to the starting position (see Figure 10-9a).

Concentrate on your breathing every step of the way as you raise and lower your body. Be careful not to raise one leg higher than the other, and remember to engage your abdominal and other core muscles, which prevents your back from being injured in this exercise.

Do this exercise six to eight times, pause to rest, and then do another six to eight repetitions.

Figure 10-9:

The Lift strengthens the backside of your body and raises your level of coordination.

Figure 10-9:

The Lift strengthens the backside of your body and raises your level of coordination.

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