Welcome to the last of a three-part series. This issue covers training for your chest and abdominals. The first section covered arms and shoulders; the second, legs and back.
The programs are designed for safety and the archetypal busy schedule, and are based on the most recent work of some of the most prominent teachers in the field, including Dr Michael Colgan and Constantine Darling. Team up to double the fun, or ask a qualified trainer in your gym for assistance. And, of course, articulate–in the warm-up, for pre-exercise mobilization, and in the cool-down stretch.
Warm-Up: A small jog, just enough to break a sweat, gets the blood flowing, and joints lubricated. And then, articulation of the deep core stabilizers: lay on your back, knees bent, and as though you have a weighty golf ball rolling up and down your spine. Press one vertebra at a time into the floor, from the base of the spine to the base of your neck. By placing your hands on your chest, you’ll be able to track the ball’s path. Don’t miss a spot. You’ll improve posture, have better form, develop body awareness and exercise the most important muscle, the brain.
The exercises are numbered in pairs. Do the first exercise for 10 to 12 reps, followed by the second exercise, again for 10 to 12 reps. You’ve done two exercises back to back, and that is called a superset. You’ll need to rest for half a minute, and then do the same exercises again, with 2.5 to five kilograms or more, but for eight to 10 reps. In other words, you do the same superset twice, lifting more weight for fewer repetitions the second time.
If you are a novice, just do the first two out of the three supersets and do the first two exercises of the previous two programs. Exercise each body part once a week. No more.
Before you touch that weight, articulate! Mimic the movement of the exercise in slow motion, as in Tai-chi. Concentrate on breathing naturally with the motion and on abdominal control.
The next step is to find a stretch chart, adopt a position that stretches the muscles you just worked, and–that’s right–articulate! This is making small controlled movements at the extremity of the stretch. To articulate the abs, roll the ball as you did in the warm-up.
Push-ups: Ye ol’ trusty classic. Keep the body like a plank of wood, with the back completely flat. Beginners can do it from their knees.
Single cable top to bottom: Standing slightly away from the pulley on a cross-cable machine, pull the cable across from the top, down to your opposite hip. Stand set, abs firm, your body unwavering.
Overhead pull: Lie on the bench, holding the dumbbell as shown. Bring the dumbbell from overhead to over your chest. Please remember: solid abs.
Single cable bottom to top: Standing slightly away from the pulley on a cross-cable machine, pull the cable across from the bottom, up to your opposite ear.
Flat dumbbell fly: On a flat bench, Arms out to the sides, elbows bent near 90 degrees. Bring the hands together, "hugging the tree," tracking over the shoulder line, and keeping the elbows bent. Then return to starting position, slooowly.
Mid-grip bench press: On flat bench, hands shoulder width apart. Press the weight up quickly, and lower it slowly.
Horizontal scissors: Lie down, pressing your back into the floor as firmly as you can. Open and close the legs. For the brave, do it hanging from a bar, with your feet lifted directly over your hips.
Vertical scissors: Lie down as above, pressing your back into the floor as firmly as you can, and take giant "steps," keeping your legs as straight as you can. For those with abs of steel, do these hanging from a bar, alternately kicking your legs up to your face.
Knee lifts: Using the dip station as shown, raise your knees to your chest or belly button, then lower them again.
Bum lift: Lie down on your back, feet directly above your hips. Now lift your hips and legs straight up towards the ceiling.
Deep Abdominals: Lie down, and press your back into the floor as firmly as you can. Bring your feet up above your hips. Now, this is a small motion. Pulse your legs from this starting position towards your head by about two inches, returning to the start position with control.
Twists: Using the dip station, twist your legs as shown, raise your knees, and twist to the other side then lower the knees, and repeat.