Before you read the final part of this series, make sure you have gone over the first two parts. In the final installment of the series, I will be introducing 3 exercises dealing with the final 3 primal movements. After this post, get motivated and get started on your whole body routine.
Twisting motions are really important. We use them when we walk or run, when we pick up a document from the briefcase we set by the side of our chair at work, when we play most sports (tennis, football, baseball…you name it!). You need your core muscles (inner and outer) in good shape to avoid injuries. When you do twisting exercises make sure that your pelvis is in a neutral position.
Seated Cable Machine Torso Twists
Pull a bench to either side of a cable machine. Put a D ring (see picture) on the hook.
Set the pulley slightly lower than shoulder height. Grab the handle with both hands. Sit on the bench to start with. Extend your arms in front of you (straight arms at ALL times). Make sure that both hands are in line with the middle of your chest. They also must be at the same level (the pads of your hands facing each other). Keep your shoulders down and back. Center your body on top of your hips. Contract your abs.
Rotate your torso to the side opposite the pulley without bending your torso. Slowly bring the weights back to the other side (the pulley side). Keep your back straight throughout the exercise. Perform 15 times and repeat on the other side.
Make sure to set up the weight to make it challenging for you. You should feel this exercise all over your abdominal area.
The lower body has the biggest muscle in our bodies. Having a shapely butt is nice, but more importantly, a strong gluteus maximus (butt) will keep you away from injuries as smaller muscles will not be forced to take over the function of the glutes. Make sure you stretch your hip flexor, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves regularly. You can look up stretches for some of those muscles on my previous posts.
I usually prefer reverse lunges to get acquainted with this primal movement. Because you don’t carry any momentum forward, you have a lower risk of injuring your back or putting too much weight over your knee
To perform, stand straight. Instead of lunging forward, you have to lunge backward as if you were kneeling to kiss the hand of royalty. So, bring your right knee behind you towards the floor and bend your left knee to lower your body. Your right knee should end up directly under your hip. Your torso, your hips and your right knee should be on a straight line. The front knee should be bent at approximately a 90 degree angle. Do not allow your front knee (left in this case) to go past over your toes. You can alternate between the left and right leg or you can do an entire set on one side before moving on to the other side. Do as many as you can with correct form until you build up your strength to do at least 12 repetitions. Once you can do this amount of reps, you may pick up dumbbells to make the exercise more challenging.
There are many variations of the lunge. You can vary the movement by lunging in different directions: going to the side, at a 45 degree angle, to the back (reverse lunge), etc.
Stand straight. Bring your weight down in a sitting motion (you may put a chair behind you to feel more comfortable, but do not sit). Make sure that your weight is evenly distributed between your both legs. Stop when your thighs form a 90 degree angle with your legs. If you feel daring and have no knee or back issues (that’s a big if), bring your thighs to parallel like the guy on the left. Push through your heels until you stand straight once more.
Keep your back neutral; you do not need to exaggerate your low back arch. Have someone look at your downward motion from behind making sure you don’t translate your hips to one side or another during the exercise. Avoid bending your body forward to finish the movement on your way down. This can strain your back muscles and put too much pressure on your low back structures. You may widen your stance to avoid this problem. Practice this motion without weights first.
There are many ways to add weights to a squat. You can put a barbell behind your neck (use a bar pad with heavy weights) or in front. You can pick up dumbells and lift them to shoulder level (keeping your elbows in and flexed so that they rest on your chest). Whatever you do, work on your form first and add the weight gradually.
Finally if squat or lunges seem too complicated or cause pain, you may opt to do leg presses (both legs or one leg) to build up the strength to tackle these exercises later on. Google leg presses if you don’t feel at ease performing squat or lunges.
As usual, discontinue any exercise that you do not understand or that causes pain. Hire a personal trainer if you feel a little hesitant. Finally, make sure your body is ready to start an exercise routine by consulting to your doctor. Once you get a green light from your doctor, start your daily exercise routine and never look back.