Thursday, April 25, 2013

Back To Basics: Upper Body

Here we are with our last Back to Basics installment: Upper Body! We love to try out all the newest "fad" workouts like Cardio Barre, TRX, Crossfit, etc... but a great workout doesn't have to be complicated OR expensive. If you master these simple workouts and keep them in your back pocket, you can get a fantastic sweat no matter where you are or how empty your wallet is.

I have to say getting my arms in shape has given me just as much trouble as my tushie, which is saying A LOT.  I always envy Jennifer Aniston and the great Michelle Obama for their killer guns and wonder: what are they doing that I am not?  Instead of slaving away on arm machines at the gym, I decided to take it back to basics and do what has worked since I guess... the beginning of time.  So, here we go with the dreaded push up and tricep dip.

First things first, don't approach these workouts as I do: as "dreaded".  Get yourself pumped up (as I really try to do) and take on these sets ready to see some serious changes.  Once you've wrapped your head around the task at hand, just get down and do it.  I aim for three sets of ten for each type of exercise, starting with push ups first.  I start by getting my alignment in order: arms shoulder width apart, aligned all the way down, with tummy sucked in (spine in neutral), back straight, focused and breathing. Once I'm all set I begin the hard stuff.  I do a standard push up (on my toes), but if you need to modify and go to your knees, go for it.  I suggest challenging yourself and starting on your knees, then when you are 3 inches from the ground, take it to your toes and push up.  Push-ups are best done correctly; remember, why bother doing anything if you aren't going to do it right? Really try and focus on taking a two-three second count on the eccentric movement (the downward) and then pushing back up nice and strong. Hold, take a breath and repeat... nine more times. 

Whew! You made it through the first set, now let's get through this tricep dip burner.  First, let's get in position.  Start with a crab walk stance, with your fingers facing your heels.  Get those hips, up, up up, arms fully extended, abs tight and take a breath.  Slowly bend the elbows (concentrating again on a controlled eccentric movement) and push back up strong, contracting and concentrating on that tricep.  Take a breath, focus and push out nine more.

OH YEAH!!! You made it, 33.3% of the way, you can do it!  You can continue through the last two sets the same, or add some challenge to the push-ups. You can take the second set on one foot (crossing the ankles) and the then get real crazy and take the last set at an incline.  You do what you can feel and what pushes yourself to get stronger.  I have made a new goal of doing these sets each morning before showering and getting those arms burning first thing in the morning.  I urge you take the challenge with me and we can support each other all along the way!

{Don't miss our other Back to Basics: Lower Body 1, Lower Body 2, and Abs!}

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