Multi-Task Your Workout, Part 2

As we enter the second half of summer, the heat is on. The temperature has already hit 90 degrees across much of the country. Hopefully, those multi-tasking moves from my last column left your shoulders, biceps, triceps, quads, glutes and inner thighs in good shape and you’re ready to show them off.

I’m continuing those multi-tasking moves here with new ones to work your outer thighs, chest, back and glutes.

Multi-tasking your workout will help relieve the stress of juggling other responsibilities. The moves combine muscles in the upperbody and the lowerbody at the same time, while putting you a little off-balance for core strengthening. Then, add cardio intervals between moves for a total body workout, and this burns more calories than simply doing cardio or toning moves separately.

1) The first move is an outer-thigh lift and a one-arm-outside bicep curl. Balance on your right leg, lift the left straight leg to the side, this gets the hip abductor working.

At the same time, lift the right hand holding a heavy weight to the side for an outside bicep curl. Feel the abs engage. Do 15 reps and repeat on the other side.

2) The next move works upperback, abs and outerthighs. Get down on your hands and knees. Use medium-sized weights and balance on them. Lift your right arm out to the side while lifting your bent left leg out to the left side (we call this the hydrant, get it?).

Do 15 this way, then switch and lift the left arm and right leg at the same time. Notice how your abs have to contract as you lift.

3) Finally, lay on your back with heavy weights in your hands, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Align your wrists directly over your elbow, getting ready for a bench press. (Your arms should look like goal posts.) You’ll simply straighten the arms to lift the weights towards the sky, and then bend the elbows back to 90 degrees, keeping the wrists above the elbows. At the same time.

Bend the legs and put your feet flat on the floor. As you lift the weights for a chest press, you will engage your glutes, quads and abdominals to lift the hips as high as you can off the floor. Lower hips and hands at the same time. Do 15 reps.

Before you start, prepare to do one minute of jumping jacks or simulated jump rope between each numbered toning move. Repeat steps one through three for a total of three sets. Add these multi-taskers to the three moves from last week for total body workout. Next month I’ll write three more exercises that will get you though the summer heat waves looking and feeling great.

To see these workouts in real time, visit www.nikkifitness.com for a demo, and for information on how to get my multi-tasking half hour workouts, including the Military Wife Workout DVD.

Train to Improve Your Push-Up Power

I received a great question from a Military.com member about building up strength to do full, strong pushups.

So many women have trouble building up the strength, or just say they hate doing them and give up. It’s very important for women to have stong upper body strength. Just follow these steps:

1) Start standing arm’s length away from a wall and count as many as you can do against it. If you can do more than 20, move on to the next step. If not, practice every other day until you can do 20 against the wall, trying to do one or two more each day. (You need to give yourself a day to recover in between.) Finish by stretching your chest muscles: link your fingers behind you and lift your arms upwards for 15 seconds.

2) Find a table, couch, weight bench, bed or counter. This should be around knee- to waste-level high. Stand back far enough so that you can lean your body diagonally onto the bench, holding yourself up with your arms. Do the pushups at this level, working slowly up to 20 at a time, practicing every other day. Bring your chest down to the bench or whatever you are practicing on, and be sure to focus on keepng a straight line from your ankles to your hips to your shoulders. Hands should be farther than shoulder width apart. Keep the body aligned and don’t hinge at the hips. It’s better to only do one perfect move rather than 10 with poor form. Watch yourself sideways in a mirror or have a friend watch you and tell you if your hips tilt up to the sky or you let the belly sink to the floor instead.

3) Move to a step (either like one from an exercise class or a step at home on a staircase.) Start on your knees with feet together. Again focus on your form being a straight line from your knees to hips to shoulders while bringing your chest and chin to the step  and work your way up to 20.

4) Now you are ready to do them on your feet, still on a step. Ankles, hips and shoulders in line, chest and chin to the step.

5) Congrats! You are ready to try the full pushup. Once you work up to 20, you can start trying to do more.

Quick Push-up Tip: You should always work your upper back muscles — the opposing muscle group — to avoid a muscle imbalance. An imbalance will cause the shoulders to round forward, tight pectoral muscles, overstretched trapezius and rhomboids, and other back conditions, even pain. You can strengthen your back by doing weighted dead rows, weighted reverse flys, or by laying on the floor, arms out to the side away from body at shoulder level — forming a T — and lifting the chest and arms off the floor. You squeeze the shoulder blades towards each other and release down for 20 reps.

Good luck with your workouts this week!

Nikki