The Best Exercises You Aren't Doing Yet
Julie Erickson doing a classic teaser, photo provided
When Julie Erickson, owner and instructor at Endurance Pilates and Yoga in Arlington, isn’t busy teaching and practicing Pilates and barre, she adds these moves into her routine. Here is her list of the best moves for your body that you aren’t doing yet:
Teaser (photo above)
Do it: Sit tall, rock back a bit, pull in the lower belly and stretch the legs to a 45 degree angle. Place your shoulders down and back as you reach for the toes and keep the legs stretched out. Hold for 30 seconds.
What it Does: Works the core muscles by holding the torso in a place that utilizes the core muscles to hold the weight of the legs.
Why it’s important: “If we learn how to engage the core and abdominals to support the weight of the torso in a challenging position, we are more likely to engage the core muscles when we stand or exercise. This will save the lower back wear and tear,” Erickson says.
Erickson doing the swan pose, photo provided.
Do it: Start on your belly, and place your hands in front of your shoulders. Engage your core and pull the belly off the floor. Lengthen the upper body away from the mat starting with the crown of the head. Draw shoulder blades to the spine to open the chest. Be careful not to over-extend the lower back. Repeat five times.
What it Does: Opens the chest, the hip flexors, and the entire front of the body.
Why it’s important: “With so much sitting going on in our daily lives, like desk jobs and driving, we have shortened up the front of the body to the point where we’ve shortened our running and walking strides,” Erickson says.
Erickson demonstrating a wall sit, photo provided
Do it: Stand up straight against a wall, feeling the back of the head, upper back, tailbone, and tush against the wall. Place feet a foot away from the wall, and slide down the wall until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Pull belly in. Hold for 30 seconds.
What it Does: Strengthens the legs and helps posture.
Why it’s important: “Leg strength is very important to everyone, but even more so as we age. Strong legs prevent falls and provide foundational support for the entire body,” Erickson says. “Building the postural muscles in the upper and middle back can help folks to stand taller and prouder with ease.”
Erickson doing a TRX push-up, photo provided
Push Ups with the TRX
How to do it: Start in a plank position on the TRX. Legs should be shoulder distance apart, up on the toes, with the body like a steel blade from head to toe. Pull belly in, push into handles and lower the body down, elbows out to the sides, keeping the straight line from head to heels.
What it Does: Challenges all of the muscles in the body to stabilize while working the chest and arms
Why it’s important: “Adding the TRX to a pushup takes the body into a very different plane and adds a tremendous amount of extra work to a traditional exercise,” Erickson says. “The legs are forced to stabilize, the obliques prevent rotation, and muscles that can get a little complacent in a floor pushup are forced to engage.”
Erickson doing a kettlebell swing, photo provided
How to do it: Stand with your feet wider than the shoulders, hinge forward from the hips. Push the kettlebell back like a witch’s broom, grazing the thighs with both arms. Using the hamstrings and glutes to drive the hips forward. Swing the bell through, no higher than the shoulders.
What it Does: Works the hamstrings, lats, core and postural muscles while burning lots of calories
Why it’s important: Swinging a kettlebell burns loads of calories compared to traditional strength training, increases strength and aerobic capacity and even provides gains in flexibility- it is a very efficient way of getting your workout in!