Set for the Season: Do it Right

Evolution
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season planner

Machine leg press/Double or single leg

On this machine, seat and leg positioning determines which muscles you work. Move the seat far enough forward that you're getting a glute workout, as well as a quad workout. The angle of the back pad can also be adjusted, and you'll want that to be as upright as you can handle, so that your lower body is doing the lion's share of the work. Your shoulder blades, sacrum and the back of your head should be against the back pad with only a slight natural arch in your lower back. Your feet should be hip-width apart and positioned high enough on the pressing platform so that when you are in the extended/starting position, your heels are in line with your knees, which are slightly bent. Your toes should be pointed straight at the ceiling. Unlock the weight and-keeping your heels firmly on the platform throughout the movement-slowly lower the weight until there's a 90-degree angle between your upper and lower leg. Hold for a second, and then slowly return to the starting position. Note: As you get the hang of this, you can vary the width of your feet to work different muscles (you'll have to lighten the weight, too). For example, bringing your feet and legs together works the inner thighs more. Use a lighter weight for a single-leg press, but keep the same form.

Side lunge

Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your abs and glutes contracted. Hold a weight bar across your upper back. With your left leg, step forward at a 45-degree angle. Keep your left foot flat and bend your left knee, keeping it directly above the ankle. Smoothly drop your right knee, until it almost touches the ground. Then explode up to a starting position.

Ski-turn wall sit

Stand with your back flat against a wall and your feet a step or two out in front of you. Angle your feet and legs to the right as if you were turning your skis, but keep your torso straight. Slide your back down the wall, bending at the knees. Stop when your thighs are nearly parallel to the ground, and make sure your knees are aligned directly above your ankles. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with your legs angled to the left.

Straight-leg dead lift

Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Using an overhand grip, hold a weight bar in front of you with your arms fully extended downward. Bend forward slowly at the hips as far as you can stretch, while keeping your back straight. Then return to the starting position.

Dumbbell shoulder press

Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Hold two dumbbells up just outside your shoulders. Press the dumbbells toward the ceiling until there is just a slight bend in your elbows, bringing the dumbbells closer together as you go. Slowly lower to the starting position.

Dumbbell shoulder raise

Use light weights to avoid straining your shoulder joints. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Let your arms hang straight down, with your elbows pointing out to the sides. With your head, shoulders and wrists in neutral, lift your arms straight up and forward as if reaching for the wall in front of you, until your arms are parallel with the floor. Hold for a second and then slowly lower your arms to the starting position, contracting your deltoids throughout the motion.

Dumbbell chest press

Lie on a bench that is set so that your upper legs are parallel to the ground and your feet are planted firmly on the floor. Your head, shoulder blades and sacrum should be firmly on the bench, but there should be a slight arch in your lower back. Once in this position, pull your shoulder blades together and hold them there throughout the full range of motion. Your arms should be aligned straight up from the shoulders, with your elbows slightly fled and the dumbbells perpendicular to the body (your palms toward your feet, knuckles toward your head). Bending your elbows straight out to your sides, slowly lower your arms to about 90 degrees, hold for a second, then use your chest muscles to raise the weights to the starting position. Be careful not to lock your elbows or rotate your shoulders.

Cable lat pull-down

Adjust the seat so that your feet are firmly on the floor and your quads are parallel to the floor. Your hands should be far enough apart that when you pull the bar down, your upper arms form a 90-degree angle to your forearms. Sitting upright, and keeping your shoulders down and your elbows straight out to the side, pull the bar down to the front (not behind your neck), by pulling your shoulder blades down and together, using your lats. (As you pull down, allow yourself a 5-degree decline to avoid bonking your nose.) When your upper arms are parallel to the ground, hold, then slowly release-without letting your shoulders ride up.

Prone scissors kick

Lie face down, with your arms stretched out in front of you. Spread your legs 18 inches apart, and flex your ankles so your toes touch the floor. Keeping your legs straight, abs tight and ankles flexed, lift your legs so your toes are just off the floor. Then bring your legs together as if you had magnets lining your inner legs. Squeeze, and hold for five seconds. Return to the starting position, but keep your toes off the floor.

Stomach crunch/Regular and weighted

Lie on your back on an exercise mat or an exercise ball. If you use a ball, your hips should be toward the front of the ball. Place your hands behind your head, with your elbows pointing out the sides. Tighten your abs, and use them to pull your head, shoulders and upper-back up and forward. Your lower back should stay pressed to the ground or ball. Your hands should support your head, without pulling it forward (keeping your elbows straight out to the sides will help you avoid pulling on your neck). Pause, then slowly lower yourself to the starting position. For crossover crunches, angle your left shoulder toward your right hip and vice versa as you come up. For weighted crunches, instead of placing your hands behind your head, hold a medicine ball or weight plate on your chest, just below your collarbone.

Stork stand

Stand on one leg with your eyes closed. Hold for the suggested amount of time.

Squat

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and keep your arms straight down at your sides, palms facing in. Spread your feet to shoulder-width, and lower yourself as if you were going to sit in a chair. As you drop, bend forward a slight 10 degrees at the hips and push your glutes back, keeping your weight on your heels. Drop as far as feels comfortable (as you get stronger, you should be able to drop deeper, until your hamstrings are nearly parallel to the ground). Don't go too far forward with your knees (they should stay behind your toes), and don't bend at the waist. Slowly return to the starting position.

Hamstring bridge

Lying on your back, place your left foot on the floor and cross your right leg over your left thigh so your right ankle is resting just above your left knee. Keeping the abdominals and glutes tight, lift your pelvis until you could draw a straight line from your left knee to your hip to your shoulder. Hold for one or two seconds, then lower slowly, but don't let your pelvis touch the floor. Repeat for the suggested number of reps; then switch legs.

Calf raise/Double- or single-leg

Adjust the shoulder bars so that they firmly touch your shoulders when your heels are fully dropped. Stand on the platform on the balls of your feet with your feet a few inches apart. Looking straight ahead, keep your torso contracted and a slight bend in the knees as you slowly raise your heels as far as you can. Hold at the top for a second and release to the count of three. Use the same form whether using one leg or two.

Push-up

Facing the floor, place your hands on the ground, a little wider than shoulder-width and support yourself with your toes. Keep your body straight, lower it until your chin is two to three inches off the ground and then push up to the starting position. Keep your abs tight, and exhale with each push-up.

Dumbbell shoulder rotation

Stand upright, holding a light (three- to five-pound) dumbbell in each hand. Position your forearms parallel to the floor, and keep the dumbbells perpendicular to the ground. Keeping your shoulders relaxed and your upper arms still, rotate your forearms outward as far as you can without arching your back. Return to the starting position.

Dumbbell single-arm lat row

Adjust a flat bench so that when you put one knee on the bench, both knees are at an equal height. Standing beside the bench, position your right knee on the bench so that when you bend over to grab the end of the bench with your right hand, your upper leg and arm are at a 90-degree angle to your upper body. With your back parallel to the bench, your head in neutral and your shoulder blades back, lightly hold the dumbbell with your left hand, allowing it to hang straight down. Pull your arm up with your elbow pointing straight back and up until the dumbbell is near your left hip and your elbow is pointing up at the ceiling. Hold for a second, contracting your lats and keeping your arm, neck and shoulders as relaxed as possible. Then slowly release the weight to the starting position, while keeping the shoulder blades back and tension in the lats.

Rotational cable pull

With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand at a 45-degree angle, pointing away from the lower cable on a cable machine. Grip the handle with the hand closest to the cable; put the other hand over the top for stability. Use your core muscles-not your arm-to pull the cable up and across your body until your arms are fully extended. Your pace should be slow and even. Keep your eyes on your hands as you pull. Slowly return to the starting position.

Clamshell crunch

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abs, using them to simultaneously pull your head, shoulders and upper back up and forward and your lower body toward your chest. Your mid-back should remain flat on the ground. Hold for a second, then slowly return toward the starting position, but don't let your head or your feet touch the ground. Repeat.

Diagonal jumps/Double- and single-leg

Stand beside a line on the ground. Jump forward with two feet across the line at a 45-degree angle, tucking your knees toward your chest. Immediately repeat, jumping back to the original side. For single-leg diagonal jumps, jump on one foot instead of two. Use the same foot for all 10 jumps, and don't double hop. Repeat using the other foot.

Exercise ball hamstring curl

Lie faceup, and place your heels on an exercise ball. Your legs and back should be straight. Extend your arms out from your sides for balance. Keep your abs and glutes tight throughout the exercise. Pull your heels toward you as far as you can, bending your knees and rolling the ball toward you as you do so. Hold for one second, then roll the ball back to the starting position. As you improve, bring your arms closer to your sides; it forces your stabilizing muscles to work harder.

Back hyperextension

Stand on the hyperextension machine platform with your feet flat and hip-width apart and your toes pointed forward. From this position, adjust the pad so that your hip bones are just above the top of it. Cross your arms across your chest and, with your head in neutral and your entire body contracted from head to toe, slowly bend forward until there is a 35-degree bend at your waist. Hold for a second and slowly raise to the starting position, using the full length of the back of your ether using one leg or two.

Push-up

Facing the floor, place your hands on the ground, a little wider than shoulder-width and support yourself with your toes. Keep your body straight, lower it until your chin is two to three inches off the ground and then push up to the starting position. Keep your abs tight, and exhale with each push-up.

Dumbbell shoulder rotation

Stand upright, holding a light (three- to five-pound) dumbbell in each hand. Position your forearms parallel to the floor, and keep the dumbbells perpendicular to the ground. Keeping your shoulders relaxed and your upper arms still, rotate your forearms outward as far as you can without arching your back. Return to the starting position.

Dumbbell single-arm lat row

Adjust a flat bench so that when you put one knee on the bench, both knees are at an equal height. Standing beside the bench, position your right knee on the bench so that when you bend over to grab the end of the bench with your right hand, your upper leg and arm are at a 90-degree angle to your upper body. With your back parallel to the bench, your head in neutral and your shoulder blades back, lightly hold the dumbbell with your left hand, allowing it to hang straight down. Pull your arm up with your elbow pointing straight back and up until the dumbbell is near your left hip and your elbow is pointing up at the ceiling. Hold for a second, contracting your lats and keeping your arm, neck and shoulders as relaxed as possible. Then slowly release the weight to the starting position, while keeping the shoulder blades back and tension in the lats.

Rotational cable pull

With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand at a 45-degree angle, pointing away from the lower cable on a cable machine. Grip the handle with the hand closest to the cable; put the other hand over the top for stability. Use your core muscles-not your arm-to pull the cable up and across your body until your arms are fully extended. Your pace should be slow and even. Keep your eyes on your hands as you pull. Slowly return to the starting position.

Clamshell crunch

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abs, using them to simultaneously pull your head, shoulders and upper back up and forward and your lower body toward your chest. Your mid-back should remain flat on the ground. Hold for a second, then slowly return toward the starting position, but don't let your head or your feet touch the ground. Repeat.

Diagonal jumps/Double- and single-leg

Stand beside a line on the ground. Jump forward with two feet across the line at a 45-degree angle, tucking your knees toward your chest. Immediately repeat, jumping back to the original side. For single-leg diagonal jumps, jump on one foot instead of two. Use the same foot for all 10 jumps, and don't double hop. Repeat using the other foot.

Exercise ball hamstring curl

Lie faceup, and place your heels on an exercise ball. Your legs and back should be straight. Extend your arms out from your sides for balance. Keep your abs and glutes tight throughout the exercise. Pull your heels toward you as far as you can, bending your knees and rolling the ball toward you as you do so. Hold for one second, then roll the ball back to the starting position. As you improve, bring your arms closer to your sides; it forces your stabilizing muscles to work harder.

Back hyperextension

Stand on the hyperextension machine platform with your feet flat and hip-width apart and your toes pointed forward. From this position, adjust the pad so that your hip bones are just above the top of it. Cross your arms across your chest and, with your head in neutral and your entire body contracted from head to toe, slowly bend forward until there is a 35-degree bend at your waist. Hold for a second and slowly raise to the starting position, using the full length of the back of your legs, as well as your torso.

Ball toss

Stand on your right leg, holding a soccer ball or light medicine ball in one hand. Toss the ball above your head from one hand to the other for 20 repetitions. Repeat on your left leg.

Single-leg squat

Stand on a sturdy bench on your left leg, positioning your leg near the edge of the bench. Place your arms out in front of you for balance. Begin slowly lowering your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Let your right foot dangle below the top of the bench as you drop. Keep your thigh and abdominal muscles contracted and your weight on your heels throughout the exercise. Also, your left kneecap should be centered over your second toe, with your hip tucked in to align with your knee (not pushing out to the side). Keep your knee pointing forward at all times. Once you reach a 70- to 90-degree bend at the knee joint, slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Side plank

Lying on your left side, prop your weight up with your forearm. Keep your left elbow under your shoulder and check in the mirror to be sure your midsection is as straight as a plank. Rest your right hand along your side or on your hip, whichever feels more comfortable. Hold for the suggested length of time. Then repeat on the right side.

Box jump

Standing on your right leg, jump sideways onto a stable six- to 12-inch box. Bend your knees and explode upward as you jump. Land on your left leg, touch your right leg to the platform, and then jump down to the opposite side of the box onto your left leg. Stay in an athletic stance (with your knees bent) as you land. Continue jumping back and forth for the suggested length of time.

Step-back

Find a sturdy bench or chair that comes to your mid-shin. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lean your upper body forward slightly from the hips, letting your arms hang straight down. Step onto the bench with your right foot. Bring your left foot up to the bench, then lower it again, letting it lightly touch the ground, but keeping your weight on your right foot and your right heel on the bench. Continue raising and lowering your left foot for the suggested number of repetitions; then switch feet.

V-sit

Sit on the ground with your upper body upright and your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abs and slowly lean back, while lifting your left leg in the air and straightening it. Stop when both your torso and your leg are at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Make sure you have your balance, then lift and straighten your right leg until its parallel to your left. You can use your arms to stabilize yourself, but once you have your balance, lift them up until they are parallel to your legs. Hold for the suggested amount of time.

Exercise ball back extension

Lie prone on an exercise ball with your legs extended straight behind you and your toes resting on the ground for balance. The ball should be supporting your hips. Extend your arms down toward the floor on either side of the ball, with your palms facing the ball and your fingertips near the floor. Tighten your abs and lift your chest, while extending both arms straight out to your sides and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for one second, then slowly return to the starting position.

Shoulder roll

Lie on your right side with your legs extended and your head propped up with your right arm. Hold a three- to five-pound dumbbell in your left hand. Place a small rolled-up towel on your left hip and rest your left elbow on it. Bend your left elbow to 90 degrees and let your forearm rest along your front. Using the deep shoulder muscles, raise the weight until it is pointing at the ceiling. Then lower it slowly, resisting the weight as you do so.

Plank

Begin on your knees in a modified push-up position, resting on your forearms instead of your hands. Align your elbows under your shoulders. Tighten your abs, and liftt your knees off the floor until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for the suggested amount of time.

Lower ab lift

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift both legs straight up in the air. Tighten your abs, and use them to raise your hips straight up off the ground. Hold for one second, then slowly lower to the starting position.

Ab ball twist

Sit on the floor and hold a soccer ball or light medicine ball in front of you. Lean back until your tailbone touches the ground. Keeping your abs tight, reach and rotate to the right with your arms fully extended. Lightly touch the ball to the floor. Return to the center, pause, then rotate to the left.

Exercise ball reverse back extension

Place an exercise ball under your stomach and hips, and place your hands on the floor in front of you for balance. Slowly lift your legs until your body is in a straight line from your head to your ankles. Hold for one second, then slowly lower your legs to the starting position.

s, as well as your torso.

Ball toss

Stand on your right leg, holding a soccer ball or light medicine ball in one hand. Toss the ball above your head from one hand to the other for 20 repetitions. Repeat on your left leg.

Single-leg squat

Stand on a sturdy bench on your left leg, positioning your leg near the edge of the bench. Place your arms out in front of you for balance. Begin slowly lowering your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Let your right foot dangle below the top of the bench as you drop. Keep your thigh and abdominal muscles contracted and your weight on your heels throughout the exercise. Also, your left kneecap should be centered over your second toe, with your hip tucked in to align with your knee (not pushing out to the side). Keep your knee pointing forward at all times. Once you reach a 70- to 90-degree bend at the knee joint, slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Side plank

Lying on your left side, prop your weight up with your forearm. Keep your left elbow under your shoulder and check in the mirror to be sure your midsection is as straight as a plank. Rest your right hand along your side or on your hip, whichever feels more comfortable. Hold for the suggested length of time. Then repeat on the right side.

Box jump

Standing on your right leg, jump sideways onto a stable six- to 12-inch box. Bend your knees and explode upward as you jump. Land on your left leg, touch your right leg to the platform, and then jump down to the opposite side of the box onto your left leg. Stay in an athletic stance (with your knees bent) as you land. Continue jumping back and forth for the suggested length of time.

Step-back

Find a sturdy bench or chair that comes to your mid-shin. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lean your upper body forward slightly from the hips, letting your arms hang straight down. Step onto the bench with your right foot. Bring your left foot up to the bench, then lower it again, letting it lightly touch the ground, but keeping your weight on your right foot and your right heel on the bench. Continue raising and lowering your left foot for the suggested number of repetitions; then switch feet.

V-sit

Sit on the ground with your upper body upright and your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abs and slowly lean back, while lifting your left leg in the air and straightening it. Stop when both your torso and your leg are at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Make sure you have your balance, then lift and straighten your right leg until its parallel to your left. You can use your arms to stabilize yourself, but once you have your balance, lift them up until they are parallel to your legs. Hold for the suggested amount of time.

Exercise ball back extension

Lie prone on an exercise ball with your legs extended straight behind you and your toes resting on the ground for balance. The ball should be supporting your hips. Extend your arms down toward the floor on either side of the ball, with your palms facing the ball and your fingertips near the floor. Tighten your abs and lift your chest, while extending both arms straight out to your sides and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for one second, then slowly return to the starting position.

Shoulder roll

Lie on your right side with your legs extended and your head propped up with your right arm. Hold a three- to five-pound dumbbell in your left hand. Place a small rolled-up towel on your left hip and rest your left elbow on it. Bend your left elbow to 90 degrees and let your forearm rest along your front. Using the deep shoulder muscles, raise the weight until it is pointing at the ceiling. Then lower it slowly, resisting the weight as you do so.

Plank

Begin on your knees in a modified push-up position, resting on your forearms instead of your hands. Align your elbows under your shoulders. Tighten your abs, and lift your knees off the floor until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for the suggested amount of time.

Lower ab lift

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift both legs straight up in the air. Tighten your abs, and use them to raise your hips straight up off the ground. Hold for one second, then slowly lower to the starting position.

Ab ball twist

Sit on the floor and hold a soccer ball or light medicine ball in front of you. Lean back until your tailbone touches the ground. Keeping your abs tight, reach and rotate to the right with your arms fully extended. Lightly touch the ball to the floor. Return to the center, pause, then rotate to the left.

Exercise ball reverse back extension

Place an exercise ball under your stomach and hips, and place your hands on the floor in front of you for balance. Slowly lift your legs until your body is in a straight line from your head to your ankles. Hold for one second, then slowly lower your legs to the starting position.

and lift your knees off the floor until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for the suggested amount of time.

Lower ab lift

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift both legs straight up in the air. Tighten your abs, and use them to raise your hips straight up off the ground. Hold for one second, then slowly lower to the starting position.

Ab ball twist

Sit on the floor and hold a soccer ball or light medicine ball in front of you. Lean back until your tailbone touches the ground. Keeping your abs tight, reach and rotate to the right with your arms fully extended. Lightly touch the ball to the floor. Return to the center, pause, then rotate to the left.

Exercise ball reverse back extension

Place an exercise ball under your stomach and hips, and place your hands on the floor in front of you for balance. Slowly lift your legs until your body is in a straight line from your head to your ankles. Hold for one second, then slowly lower your legs to the starting position.

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