More stretches and workouts
February 13, 2012
Here's an exercise that will help you get strong abdominals and a flexible spine. For best results, perform this move three or four times a week.
January 30, 2012
Bending backward is not just about the spine — you must use your arms and legs to support it. As you practice this pose, remember to point your tailbone down toward your heels to keep your lower back safe. A common mistake is to squeeze your buttocks forward, which pinches your lower back.
January 23, 2012
Develop strong, sculpted abdominal muscles with this simple exercise. Perform this variation with your legs elevated on a sturdy chair to help you really "feel" your muscles contracting in a challenging yet safe way.
January 9, 2012
Use light weights in this exercise for a convenient, fast and effective way to work the fronts and backs of your arms at the same time. Remember to pull your abdominal muscles in to support your spine in this forward bend.
October 31, 2011
Train the backs of your upper arms and the fronts of your upper thighs at the same time by combining this overhead triceps extension with a quadriceps extension. You will also feel your core muscles working since you'll need to maintain your balance throughout the move.
January 2, 2012
Stretch your chest, shoulders, back and leg muscles with this yoga-based forward bend. It's important to place your feet correctly on the mat so you will feel stable and balanced while in the pose.
December 19, 2011
Here's a great stretch that you can do any time to release tension in your back, chest and shoulders. It is excellent to do after prolonged periods of sitting at a desk, in a car or in an airplane.
November 28, 2011
If you experience neck pain when you perform abdominal crunches lying flat on the floor, try doing this move with a small, partially deflated ball behind your back. The ball assists you in holding the correct position so you don't overuse your neck muscles. You can also use a firm pillow in place of the ball.
October 17, 2011
At the end of your workout routine it's important to stretch the hamstring muscles in the backs of your thighs. With this move, you'll get an extra stretch in your calves and your back as well. Using a pair of yoga blocks will make it easier to balance and more comfortable to practice the move.
October 10, 2011
Double your benefits by doing this variation of a curl and crunch. Use a slightly deflated ball or a small, firm pillow to support your lower back so you can contract your abdominal muscles and biceps muscles at the same time. Focus on keeping your abs flat throughout the entire exercise.
October 3, 2011
If your back feels stiff and tight, try lying on the floor for a few minutes and hugging your knees into your chest. This is a safe and effective way to release tight muscles in your back, legs and groin.
September 12, 2011
A challenging way to intensify your abdominal work is to perform a reverse curl with an oblique crossover curl. This will engage the sides and lower section of your abdominals in one move. If you have tight hamstrings, you can modify this move by bending your knees.
September 26, 2011
Most of us are familiar with forward or backward stretches, but keep in mind that your spine also needs to stretch to the sides. Practice the first variation of this yoga pose, then move on to the more advanced version to deepen the intensity. Always remember to breathe deeply and fully while holding this side bend.
September 5, 2011
If your exercise program consists of abdominal curls and push-ups, remember to include this yoga pose at the end of your routine. It will help to stretch your hips, abdominals and chest muscles while strengthening your upper back and arms. If you are new to this move, try using yoga blocks to make it easier.
September 19, 2011
Here is a terrific exercise that not only strengthens your back and buttocks but also helps to align your spine and stretch your chest and hips.
July 25, 2011
Here are two variations of back arches that will help counter the effects of rounded shoulders. Slouching tends to shorten the muscles in the front of your body and can overstretch the muscles in the back. These moves reverse that action and help improve your posture.
August 29, 2011
Here is a great way to strengthen your core muscles while lying on the floor. This exercise recruits muscles in your abdominals, back and hips to stabilize your spine against the movement of your legs.
5:23 PM EDT, July 15, 2011
Double your benefits by doing this variation of a curl and crunch. Use a slightly deflated ball or a small, firm pillow to support your lower back so you can contract your abs and biceps muscles at the same time. Focus on keeping your abdominal muscles flat through the entire exercise.
July 11, 2011
Here's a terrific way to train your hamstrings (the muscles in the back of your thighs) and buttocks without overworking the fronts of your thighs. It's excellent for people who have sensitive knees and cannot perform squats or lunges.
July 4, 2011
Get strong and balanced rear shoulder muscles by including this exercise in your weight routine. Sitting on a bench or chair makes it easier on your lower back when you lean forward. Begin with 3- to 5-pound dumbbells, then progress to heavier weights as you get stronger.
June 27, 2011
The fronts of your thighs can get very tight, especially if you play sports, train with weights or engage in any other physical activities. Remember to regularly stretch these muscles to help prevent knee, hip or back injuries. Here's one stretch that feels great and is easy to do.
June 13, 2011
Build muscular endurance with yoga moves like this one, called "plank pose into chaturanga dandasana." Practiced correctly on a regular basis, you will strengthen your chest, shoulders and arms as well as your core muscles.
May 16, 2011
Props like this Pilates ring can help spice up your workout by challenging muscles in new ways. To add intensity to your obliques (side abdominal muscles) and adductors (inner thigh muscles), try this new move.
May 9, 2011
If you find it difficult to perform the traditional bicycle exercise on the floor because your neck gives out before your abdominal muscles, try doing them against a firm pillow or bolster. Just remember to use your abdominals to press your back against the pillow.
April 25, 2011
Our abdominals are the body's center of power. They're responsible for initiating many of the movements we make and for stabilizing the spine when we do. Here's a challenging exercise to keep them strong and healthy.
March 28, 2011
When it comes to training your abdominals, it's important to include the deepest layer of this muscle group — the transversus abdominis, which is responsible for flattening the stomach. Here is a great way to target this area.
May 2, 2011
After a workout, here's a great way to stretch your back and gluteal muscles. If you have sensitive knees and tight hips, sitting on a yoga block will raise you a few inches off the floor and make it easier to bend forward.
January 31, 2011
After long hours of sitting in front of your computer or behind the steering wheel of your car, take a break to stretch your hip and back muscles. This move is simple to do and extremely effective.
April 4, 2011
This seated spiral twist will strengthen and stretch your spine, but a common mistake is to round your back, which causes your chest to cave in. If this happens to you, try elevating your hips on a yoga block. You will find it easier to sit up straight and perform the exercise correctly.
February 21, 2011
Add an extra challenge to your elbow plank exercises by balancing on one leg at a time. It helps to strengthen your core, spine, legs and the deep muscles in your upper back.
February 14, 2011
The fronts of your thighs and hips can become very tight if you perform a lot of lunges and squats or if you run or hike. Here's a great way to increase the flexibility in those areas while working on your core strength.
January 10, 2011
If you are familiar with performing a traditional elbow plank, try this new variation for an extra challenge to your core muscles. Just remember to make your movements very small in order to keep it safe and effective.
December 20, 2010
Try this challenging kneeling exercise to train your core muscles. It will strengthen your abdominals and buttocks as it stretches your back. You may find it difficult to maintain your balance at first, but if you are patient and persistent you'll improve quickly.
December 27, 2010
Here's an easy "feel-good" flexibility move that you can incorporate into your workout routine when your legs or hips feel tight or sore. Make sure the chair you use is sturdy and stable and is on a non-slip surface.
December 6, 2010
Here's a challenging variation of the traditional bent-over row that will strengthen your core and your upper body muscles. Remember to hold lighter dumbbells while you master the technique, then increase the weight once you're comfortable finding your balance. Practice patience because this exercise is harder than it looks.
November 1, 2010
This twisting lunge can be done at a wall to help you feel more stable while you get into the correct position. Practice it on a regular basis to relieve lower back discomfort and to strengthen and stretch your legs and hips.
December 13, 2010
Placing a yoga block under your feet in this simple move is an excellent way to isolate and train your abdominal muscles. It helps you to relax your hip flexors so you can feel a stronger workout just in your abdominals.
11:55 AM EDT, November 6, 2010
Shoulders are a very complex area of our bodies because they are highly flexible joints that move in many directions. It's important to train them with appropriate exercises, like this one, designed to improve joint stability and muscular balance.
September 20, 2010
Use light resistance to develop strong shoulders with this exercise. You can avoid overworking your upper trapezius muscles by training one arm at a time.
October 18, 2010
Here are two versions of back arches that will help stretch your chest and shoulders while strengthening the muscles in your upper back. These are both excellent moves to help prevent you from developing rounded shoulders or a hunched back.
July 26, 2010
If you've always wanted to do a handstand but can't get in the correct position and hold your balance, try practicing half a handstand at the wall. Over time, it will help you develop the necessary strength in your shoulders and core so you can do a full handstand.
October 4, 2010
The Warrior II pose can be very challenging to hold for long. Done correctly, your knee should bend to a 90-degree angle, with your shoulders back and your chest broad and open. Try practicing it against a flat wall to help you target your tight spots and develop stamina in your legs.
September 27, 2010
Overtraining your legs or heavy strength training for your thighs can lead to tight quadriceps and hip flexor muscles. It's important to keep these muscles flexible with a simple move, which you can do at a wall for added stability. When you feel comfortable, move away from the wall and practice holding your balance while practicing this pose.
September 6, 2010
Use this Pilates roll-down exercise to stretch and strengthen your core muscles. Leaning against a flat wall to perform the move helps you hold and maintain a C-curve shape to your spine.
July 19, 2010
Foam blocks are great tools for practicing yoga poses. Use them to develop more flexibility in your hamstrings while eliminating pressure on your lower back.
June 21, 2010
This exercise is safe, effective and an excellent way to develop core and lower body strength. It may look easy, but give it a try and you'll notice that the longer you hold it, the more intense and challenging it becomes.
August 9, 2010
Release tension in your neck and shoulders with this terrific stretch. Do it after lifting weights or after sitting in front of a computer all day. You can sit in a chair, on the floor or, if you're one of those people with sensitive knees and tight thighs — for whom kneeling or sitting on their heels can be uncomfortable, even painful — try sitting on a firm yoga block when sitting on the floor. This will help take pressure off the front thighs and make floor exercises like this one much easier.
August 2, 2010
This classic yoga pose, called half moon, is excellent for stretching your back and hip muscles. It also strengthens your legs and ankles while helping you develop balance. At first you might need to use a yoga block under your hand, but as soon as you get more limber and feel stable enough, you can rest your fingers on the floor and straighten your bottom leg.
July 12, 2010
Here's a great way to reduce tension in the upper back, neck and shoulders. Practice this stretch at your desk after long hours of sitting in front of the computer or talking on the telephone.
June 14, 2010
Working with light dumbbells can be quite effective if you perform the moves with correct technique and alignment. In this exercise, maintain a straight spine throughout the move for maximum benefit.
May 31, 2010
If you practice yoga on a regular basis, you're probably familiar with the classic position called triangle pose. But it's a good idea, every once in a while, to practice this pose with the back of your body against a flat wall, so you can check the position of your shoulders and hips for correct alignment.
July 5, 2010
This is a new, fun way to strengthen your glutes and thighs. By using a kettlebell, which is easier to hold than a dumbell, you'll be able to maximize your results with added resistance while performing this wide-leg drop squat.
May 24, 2010
Strengthen your entire back with this one simple move. The first variation, in which your legs are on the floor, targets the upper and mid-back muscles. The second variation kicks up the intensity by also training your buttocks and legs.
May 10, 2010
If you're new to yoga and not limber yet, here's a safe and simple way to get started. With this pose, you'll develop flexibility in your hip, thigh and back muscles so you can progress to more advanced poses.
April 26, 2010
With this pose, you'll build strong abdominal muscles that will support your lower back. Your legs will need to be very flexible, so you might have to keep your knee bent for a while. In this pose, it's more important to straighten your back than to fully straighten your leg.
October 24, 2005
When it comes to stretching your spine and the back of your legs, keep two things in mind: position and patience. This forward bend, using a block, will help relieve tightness in your lower back as well as stretch your calves and hamstring muscles. Remember: There's a direct relationship between flexibility and strength. The more range of motion your muscles have, the more strength and power they can generate.
May 17, 2010
One of the keys to good posture is core balance. With this simple move, you can improve your muscular balance so you'll stand taller, with your weight evenly distributed over both legs.
February 27, 2006
Try seated stretches like this one on a rolled mat to give you an added lift and to help you achieve a more intense twist in your torso. It's an excellent way to release any tension accumulated in your middle and lower back muscles. Make sure you use a tightly rolled mat and sit with your buttock bones directly on top of it. Also, breathe fully while holding the twist because it's easy to hold your breath and not be aware of it.
May 3, 2010
Here's a simple yet challenging way to firm and tighten your buttocks and thighs. If you start to incorporate this move into your exercise routine now, you can help get your lower body in shape for the summer.
February 13, 2006
Performing abdominal curls while holding your legs in the air is a good way to protect your back from overarching — but you need to keep your legs very still and your knees slightly bent. This move isolates your front and side abdominal muscles without stressing your neck or overtraining your hip flexors. Mix it with other types of crunches for added variety in your routine.
March 13, 2006
With this flexibility move, your breath is coordinated with the twist. Remember to breathe smoothly and gently. Visualize a "crisscross" position in which the front of your hips face forward as you continue to revolve your upper torso to the side.
March 6, 2006
Some exercises are better than others at warming up the body and preparing it for more vigorous moves. This one is a good way to warm up your arms, legs and torso muscles while lying on the floor. Because it's excellent for stretching and strengthening your abs and back, use it any time you need to take a break from prolonged sitting or standing.
April 19, 2010
This move helps develop strong muscles in the core and upper body. For maximum benefit, make sure that your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line before you try to lift yourself.
November 7, 2005
This simple muscle-tightening maneuver is one of the best ways to firm your buttocks and the backs of your thighs. To challenge these large muscles, you have to push your heels down hard. That creates "targeted tension" in the back of your body, but avoids overworking the already strong muscles in the front.
April 5, 2010
This exercise is designed to build strength and balance in your core and leg muscles. In the beginning, to help with balance, use a yoga block under your hands. With time and practice, you'll be able to let go, moving your arms out to the sides.
February 20, 2006
The push-up is always an effective and efficient strength-training move because it works your chest, back and arms. But if you're looking for a new way to do push-ups, try performing them with a set of dumbbells in your hands. You'll support your wrists and get a different angle on a traditional exercise. Start off by doing this move on your knees and, as you progress, straighten your legs and perform it on your toes.
March 20, 2006
A big part of developing a healthy, strong back is learning to train the small rotator muscles of the spine. With this exercise, you can maintain a strong base of support with your lower body. For the best results, make sure you do this move slowly, with precision, control and consistency.
November 14, 2005
Combining these two dumbbell exercises gives your shoulder and back muscles a balanced workout. Use a chair or bench for support, so that the position is comfortable and protective of your lower back. Once you are familiar with these two moves, you can do them without the chair, bent forward at the hips with bent knees.
October 31, 2005
Do you remember how you sat cross-legged on the floor as a child? At some point, we graduated from sitting on the floor to sitting in chairs, which can encourage bad posture. As often as possible, take a seat on the floor and follow these guidelines to release tension in your hips and groin and strengthen your core muscles. Good posture supports your spine and helps to prevent chronic aches in your back, neck and shoulders.
November 21, 2005
Do this multi-duty exercise after a few hours of sitting at your desk. It will increase circulation in your legs, stretch your back muscles and improve your posture. To get started, just push your chair away from your desk so that there is nothing blocking your arms and legs.
December 5, 2005
Before you try to perform a headstand, practice doing these simple versions of this tripod inversion first. They will familiarize you with being in an inverted position. If you have never done moves like this before, you might be surprised to discover how good it feels to counter the effects of gravity.
December 12, 2005
Do deep stretches after your workouts, when your muscles are warm and pliable. They'll lead to greater flexibility — and be easier — than those done at the beginning of your workouts. Here's a fun and effective way to stretch the backs of your thighs. Just remember: Be patient and consistent.
December 26, 2005
Add this move to your strength-training program and get triple the payoff for your time. The exercise targets your chest and front thigh muscles while providing a core stability challenge. Begin with light dumbbells while you learn the movement, then progress to heavier weights as you feel more comfortable. Remember to engage your core muscles before you start to move your arms and legs. This will help keep your hips and shoulders level.
November 28, 2005
For a slim, firm midsection, perform exercises that will train all your abdominal muscles together. This move is challenging, so a few good repetitions are all you need to tone your torso muscles. Start with an easier version by lifting only one leg at a time; this will give you a chance to learn how to recruit the correct muscles without straining your back.
January 16, 2006
This pose helps you develop flexibility in the front of your hips and thighs — and will improve your posture as the muscles in the front of your body get more limber. To make this move easier to balance, you can rest your left hand on the back of a chair. But as you get more familiar with the move, practice balancing on your own throughout the movement.
December 19, 2005
Training your abdominal muscles does not mean having to do hundreds of reps of the traditional crunch. Instead, break up your routine with a variety of moves for the various muscles in your midsection. This move is for the transverses abdominis, the deeply buried ab muscle that is not seen on the surface but is responsible for stabilizing your back and pelvis all day while you sit, stand and walk. When learning this exercise, be sure to move your legs only a few inches downward, until you have developed the necessary strength in your abdominals to go further.
January 2, 2006
For complete abdominal strengthening, include exercises to train your transverses abdominis. When strong, this muscle keeps your midsection trim and flat, improving your posture and making your silhouette slimmer. You can engage the transverses abdominis every time you start to do a traditional ab crunch by performing a split-second contraction before fully flexing other abdominal muscles. This will help get the most out of all your abdominal work.
January 23, 2006
Alternate working your back and abdominal muscles with this simple routine. You can easily perform both of these moves at the end of your weight- or cardio-strengthening program to keep your core muscles strong and flexible. You will gradually be able to hold each position longer, but remember that patience and consistency will yield far better results than forcing your body to hold new positions too long, too soon.
January 30, 2006
To improve your overall balance and stability, perform either version of this one-legged balancing posture. Along with strengthening your legs and hips, it will enhance your focus and concentration. When first learning this pose, remember to look at a fixed point in front of you to help you find your center. If you have difficulty with your balance, practice standing against a wall until you feel more stable.
August 22, 2005
Sculpting your back and arm muscles is a must if you want to ward off injuries and develop a well-defined upper body. Using tubing for resistance is a convenient and portable way to stay consistent with your workouts even if you're traveling. Try this simple move to tone and strengthen your back, shoulders and arms. Remember, you can always substitute a pair of dumbbells for variety.
August 29, 2005
The revolved chair pose strengthens your feet, lower legs, thighs and hip muscles, while it improves your balance and tones your abdominal and back muscles. To keep this movement safe, make sure you sit back on your heels and don't allow your knees to jut forward of your ankles.
September 26, 2005
Here's a fun way to strengthen your abdominal muscles and train them to stay "pulled in" when you sit and stand up. The transverse abdominus acts as a girdle to compress your front abdominal wall. When it's strong, it will help your midsection remain slim and firm. As an added bonus to this exercise, hugging a stability ball works your inner thigh muscles.
September 5, 2005
As an alternative to lying on the floor and performing a single stretch for your back, try this move to both loosen and strengthen your spinal muscles at the same time. Be sure to hold the curve in your back for several seconds so your muscles can feel the full effect. This is an excellent move after a period of prolonged sitting.
October 3, 2005
To strengthen and shape your shoulders in a balanced manner, select your exercises carefully. Raising your arms in front and to the sides will work the front and tops of your shoulders. But don't forget the backs of your shoulders. Here's a good exercise to target those muscles, called the rear deltoids. To keep this move safe and effective, do not jerk or swing the dumbbells up in the air. Practice this exercise with light weights at first and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.
September 12, 2005
Many exercises can firm up the triceps, the muscles in the backs of your upper arms, but this move is a personal favorite. When you do it, you feel the work in the muscles without feeling any stress in the shoulder or elbow joints. If you are new to weight training, begin with a pair of 2- to 3-pound dumbbells, but as you get stronger, increase the weight to a 5- to 8-pound pair.
October 10, 2005
Twisting moves penetrate deep into your body's core muscles and give your spine more freedom of movement. Perform a twisting crunch like this one to strengthen and shape your side abdominal muscles called the obliques. These muscles add the necessary strength to bend and rotate your spine in everyday activities and sports. To get the most out of the crunch, concentrate on a shoulder-to-hip motion instead of an elbow-to-knee. Remember to keep the entire movement smooth and controlled.
June 4, 2007
Just sitting upright properly can be challenging if you try to hold the position for a period of time. It requires both strength and flexibility in the muscles of your legs and back. Think of forming a 90-degree angle with your body with a hinge at your hips.
May 21, 2007
It's easy to get discouraged when practicing twists because your progress may be slow. But be patient and persistent because — even though you may get only a small range of motion — consistently performing twists will stretch important muscles that run along the spine and help stretch your side abdominal muscles.
Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times