Why: Strengthens and lengthens your lower body.
How: Stand tall on your left leg, belly braced. Tip your torso forward, letting your arms hang naturally, as you swing your right leg back until you feel a stretch in the hamstring of that leg. Keeping your torso long, squeeze your back and glutes to return to the starting position. This is 1 rep. Do 10 reps on each side. To make this move easier, do 5 reps on each side and don’t tilt your body as far forwards. To make it harder, do 15 reps on each side and extend both arms overhead (like a superman move) throughout.
Push-up to side plank
Why: Strengthens and lengthens your upper body.
How: Kneel with your upper body angled forwards, hands shoulder-width apart, arms straight, shoulders in line with your wrists. Keep your shoulders down, tailbone tucked and belly braced as you lower your torso to the ground, then push back up. Rotate your body to the right and lift that arm to the sky, then return to the centre for another push-up. Rotate to the left and repeat.
This is 1 rep. Aim to do 10 reps. To make this move easier, do 5 reps and bring your knees closer to your hands in the push-up and keep your top hand on your hip for the side plank. To make it harder, do 15 reps on your toes.
Hollow body hold
Why: Strengthens and lengthens your anterior chain (quads, core and pectoral muscles).
How: Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms stretched overhead so your biceps are beside your ears. Scoop your tailbone in towards your bellybutton and lift your legs, arms and shoulder blades off the ground.
Hold for as long as you can, then lower and rest for 10 seconds. This is 1 rep. Do 3-7 reps. To make this move easier, reach your hands alongside your body and bend your knees as you lift.
To make it harder, rock your body up and down the length of your spine once you’re elevated.
Contra-lateral limb raises
Why: Strengthens and lengthens your posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back).
How: Lie face-down on the ground with your arms extended in front of you. Tuck your chin in and tilt your tailbone forwards, then simultaneously lift your left arm and right leg off the ground. Squeeze and hold for 5 seconds, then lower back down. Repeat, using your right arm and left leg. This is 1 rep.
Do 10 reps. If this is too hard, focus on raising your arm and leg separately. To make it harder, extend your lifted leg and arm out to the side once elevated, then come back to the centre.
Q: "How can I tell if I have a muscle imbalance and how do I correct it?"
A: If you have a muscle imbalance, it means that you’re really tight in one area of your body and really lax in another.
A perfect example is an office worker. Because they sit at a desk all day, they’re tight in their hamstrings and weak in their core. Wearing heels too often can also lead to tightness in the calves and quads. If you suspect you have a serious muscle imbalance, it’s always a good idea to see a professional, such as an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist. If you’re not sure if you have a muscle imbalance, you can do a simple test at home.
Overhead squats are a great way to quickly reveal any imbalances – ask a friend to film you performing them. To be sure you don’t miss anything, it’s important that you’re filmed from both side-on and front-on.
When it comes to reviewing the footage, what you’re looking for is poor form.
During an overhead squat, you should be able to keep your back straight, knees pointed out, heels on the ground and arms up, with palms facing each other. If you find it hard to keep your heels on the ground, you could have tight hamstrings and a weak core. If you lean to the side and arch your back, you might also have tight hip flexors.
Leaning too far forwards indicates that while your calves are overworked, your glutes aren’t engaged; while dropping your arms might mean your upper back muscles or rotator cuffs are underdeveloped.
Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, the solution is to stretch more and work on your mobility. A token gesture at the end of your workout isn’t enough, so schedule in some regular yoga. The time you spend stretching out tight calves, quads and hamstrings will prevent you from getting an injury. Exercise moves such as planks are great for building core strength and classes like mat or reformer Pilates can do wonders as they help find imbalances, strengthen areas that are weak and incorporate some stretching.
Do you have a question for Michelle? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more workout inspo from Michelle, this is her 4-move belly buster, and her 10-minute hotel room workout.
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