This workout, which is designed to strengthen both your arms and your abs, puts a new twist on traditional exercises. The exercises for your arms isolate your biceps, triceps and shoulders, while the abdominal strength and endurance exercises target your rectus abdominis (the superficial muscles that you can see), obliques (the muscles that twist the torso) and the transverse abdominis (the deep abdominals that you can’t see).
Each round includes two exercises, an “A” and a “B.” The “A” is always an arm exercise, and the “B” is always an abdominal exercise. Perform each exercise for one minute, and complete three sets before moving onto the next round.
Equipment needed: BOSU, resistance band, dumbbells
A: Triceps Kickback: The intensity of this traditional exercise for the triceps is increased by adding a balance challenge. Kneel on the center of the BOSU with your feet off the floor. With the dumbbell in your left hand, draw your elbow up alongside your torso. Keep it close to your body and extend your lower arm straight back. Pause for a second and then slowly bring it back to the starting position. Perform the kickback for one minute on each arm. If you want to increase the challenge even more, extend the opposite leg out behind you as you perform the kickback. You’ll have just one hand and one knee on the BOSU, which will intensify the work of the abdominals to hold your body stable.
B: Straight Spine With Scissor Arms: When you think of abdominal work, you probably think about flexing and rotating the spine, but engaging the spine in a neutral position is just as important. Conditioning the deep abdominal muscles to endure and support the spine is key to long-term back health. This exercise keeps the spine in a neutral position but increases the workload of the abs with a challenging position as well as arm movements.
Sit next to the base of the BOSU with the dome side facing up. With a straight, neutral spine, lean back just enough so that you can barely feel the BOSU behind you. Maintain this lengthened position and prevent your ribcage from flaring out. Take your right arm overhead and your left arm to the floor. Switch the arms in a scissor motion for one minute.
A: Biceps Circles: Adding in some small extra movements into the standard biceps curl helps to recruit more muscles in the arm and the shoulder. Stand on the middle of a resistance band and hold the ends in each hand. Make a circular pattern with your lower arms. Perform the circle in an outward direction first, for 30 seconds, and then reverse the circle for the next 30 seconds.
B: Crunch With Arm Sweep: This exercise increases the intensity of a standard crunch by adding some external resistance. Wrap a resistance band around a post and sit on the floor facing away from the post. Lie on your back and hold the ends of the bands in each hand, with your hands aligned over your shoulders. There should be some tension on the band. Lift your head and shoulders and pull the band down toward the floor as you crunch. Slowly release your arms and head back down to the floor and then repeat the movement for one minute.
A: Three-way Plank: The plank is a great exercise for your shoulders and abs. This version adds an extra challenge for the shoulders by adding weight and various movement patterns. Begin with your hands directly under your shoulders, with a dumbbell in each hand. Extend your legs and keep your feet about hip-distance apart. With the left dumbbell, perform a front raise by lifting the arm straight ahead, level with your shoulder. Return the arm back to the starting position. Next, perform a lateral raise by raising the arm out to the side, no higher than shoulder height. Return the arm back to the starting position. Finally, perform a posterior raise by extending the arm back behind you. Be sure to maintain stability in your hips and keep your head in front of your hands, which will help prevent your hips from piking. After completing all three movements, perform the same movements with the right arm; continue alternating sides for one minute.
B. Three-kick Windshield Wiper: Adding in some movement at the end range of motion intensifies the work of the obliques. Lie on your back with your arms extended out in a “T” position. Bend your knees and your hips to 90 degrees (your knees should be over your hips). Brace your abdominals as you slowly lower your legs to the left. Focus on keeping your right shoulder blade down on the floor as your legs go to the left. Once you find the range of motion that engages your obliques, pause and extend your right lower leg out, as if you’re kicking. Perform three kicks before returning back to the starting position. Next, rotate your knees to the right and perform the kicks with your left leg. Continue for one minute.
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