Spring Into Summer: Sculpt A Tight, Toned Body Without Moving
Posted by Katie Ostoich on June 4, 2012 at 11:47 AM
If you've ever quaked through the last 10 seconds of a forearm plank, you know that staying still can leave you drenched in sweat and work your core harder than hundreds of crunches.
But static moves can work much more than your core and offer a host of benefits that make them worth mixing in to your regular routines. You work you strength and flexibility at the same time and all you need is your body, perfect if you workout at home.
Mix some of these non-movements from Greg Presto for Shape into your next workout. They're great between sets of dynamic exercises or strung together as a killer total-body workout on their own.
Move: Static Lunge
Even without weight, a static lunge can burn and shape your butt, thighs and calves while reducing stress on your knees. And it will crush your core.
To do the static lunge, take a large step forward and descend into the deepest position of the lunge you can hold -- ideally, your knees will form two 90-degree angles. Hold this position for 30 seconds on each side, then switch sides. Work this hold into your workout between sets of an upper-body exercise.
Move: Body Saw
Planks can work your core even harder with just a touch of movement and a towel under your feet. The exercise then becomes something called the body saw, a move made popular by users of Val slides.
With your toes on a towel, assume a forearm plank position. Brace your core as if you were about to be punched. Maintaining a straight body position from your head to heels, slowly slide forward so your elbows form an angle smaller than 90 degrees, then reverse and slide back until your elbows form a wider angle. The movement should resemble the back-and-forth movement of a handheld saw.
Repeat the movement for sets of 10.
The superman (or, if you like, superwoman) can firm up your butt, lower back, shoulders and hamstrings while giving your abs a strong stretch.
To do it, lie facedown with your arms extended straight overhead, your legs extended straight. Simultaneously lift your head, chest, arms and legs up, so you're in a Superman-style flying position, gazing forward. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, and repeat.
Move: Chinup Hold
Chinups and pullups work your arms and back, but also engage your core, chest, thighs, shoulders...even your legs. The ability to do even one is a great sign of overall fitness, and a great goal to strive for -- and you can get there with a few weeks of a static hold.
Simply hold at the top of the chinup position for 20 seconds or more. The top of the chinup is where many people falter, and this hold will strengthen the body to pull -- and hold -- your weight through the entire range of the movement.
Hanging at the bottom's good, too. When you're standing or sitting up all day, your spine gets compressed. Hanging there, you lengthen the muscles, and everything stretches out.
Move: Glute Bridge
To firm and tone your butt and the backs of your thighs -- and give your body more control over the position of your pelvis -- try static holds of 30 to 45 seconds of the hip-thigh extension.
Lie faceup with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes to raise your pelvis until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shouders. In this position, squeeze your glutes and core as hard as you can, and hold the pose for the prescribed period of time. (Too easy? Try it with one leg off the ground, with the knee straight.)
Move: Bottom of a Pushup
For a plank that works your arms as hard as the traditional move does with your core, bend your elbows to hold the bottom of a pushup. Try to lengthen your body and hold the straightest line you can from head to heels.
Move: Chair Pose
Any one who’s ever struggled through a power yoga class knows that chair pose may be evil. Quads will burn. But it’s also a good way to strengthen your upper back. Standing with your feet together and your arms beside your ears, bend your knees and push your hips back to hold a half-squat position.
Concentrate on resisting gravity to keep your arms straight and next to your ears -- this will strenghten your upper back for the desired result.
Move: Anti-Rotation Press
Many core exercises work by rotating your torso. But your core muscles also work to keep your body stable, resisting rotation. With a cable machine, you can work this function of your core with an anti-rotation press.
To do it, attach a handle to the middle of a pulley machine. Hold the handle with both hands, and stand next to the machine. Pull away from the cable stack until the cable is taut, holding the handle against your chest. Brace your core, and slowly press your arms in front of you until they're straight. The cable will try to pull your torso toward the origin of the cable -- your job is to keep your core from rotating (thus, "anti-rotation" press). Return your arms to the start position, and repeat 10 times on each side.
Move: Static Sumo Squat
Sitting in a squat position not only improves your strength, but can make you squat better. Static holds at the bottom of the squat position will help build flexibility in your hip flexors, which will help reduce pain during running or other activities, and can make you squat deeper and with better form. For a bigger challenge, add weight with the sumo squat hold.
To do it, hold a dumbbell with both hands between your legs before you squat. Squat to the bottom of the squat position, with the weight hanging just above the floor. Hold this position for as long as possible.
See a slideshow of these moves here.