If you’re one of the many readers following the HFG 12-Week Diet & Exercise Plan, then you’ll know it’s time to start strength training. See page 14 of the booklet for a program, then get started with these simple exercises.
Start on your hands and knees. Knees are together, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and arms straight with your elbows soft (ie. don’t lock them). Slowly lower your torso to the ground, stopping once your elbows are at 90 degrees. Raise yourself by pushing back up to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 8–12 reps.
Do: Keep your bottom down – lowering it with the rest of your body. Keep your abdominal muscles switched on through the whole move.
Don’t: Drop your neck – keep it straight.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and hands by your side. Bending your knees, slowly lower yourself as if you were about to sit on a seat while raising your arms straight out in front. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor and your arms are at shoulder height. Hold for three seconds then push yourself back to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 8–12 reps.
Do: Keep your back straight and your heels flat on the floor. Keep your abdominals braced.
Don’t: Let your knees come over your toes.
Swiss ball sit-ups
Sitting on the ball, walk your feet forward and lower your back slowly so it is flat. Cross arms over your chest, and make sure your heels are directly under your knees. Bracing your abdominal muscles, push your lower back into the ball as you curl yourself up. Stop at 45 degrees or when you start to feel your stomach shake. Hold for three seconds before lowering. Do 2 sets of 15–20 reps.
Do: Complete this exercise slowly.
Don’t: Come up too far.
Stand with your feet apart and your hands on your hips. Step forward with your right foot and lower yourself to the ground, stopping before your left knee hits the ground. Pushing off with your right foot, lift your right foot back to the starting position. Now complete with the left leg. Do 2 sets of 8–12 reps on each leg.
Do: Keep your abdominals braced. Your front knee should be directly above your ankle.
Don’t: Lean forward – keep your back straight.
Lying leg raises
Lie on your right side, with your head resting on your outstretched right arm. Your left leg should be on top of your right, and your left hand on your left hip. Keeping your right leg on the floor, lift your left leg away from the floor, stopping at a comfortable height. Slowly lower your left leg back to the right. Repeat 8–12 times. Then complete the exercise with your right leg. Complete 2 sets.
Do: Flex both feet throughout the exercise – ie. your toes should be pointing forward.
Don’t: Complete the exercise quickly – take your time; it’s not a race.
Lie on your back, with your hands behind your head. Rest your heels on a Swiss ball or chair. Pushing your lower back into the floor, lift your shoulder blades off the floor and twist your right elbow towards your left knee (they do not need to touch). Hold for three seconds before lowering yourself back to the starting position. Complete with your left arm. Do 2 sets of 15–20 reps on each side.
Do: Keep your elbows back, level with your head, at all times except when you twist towards your knee.
Don’t: Pull your head up with your hands. Your neck needs to remain straight.
Grab some tins from your pantry or a pair of dumbbells. Stand with your feet apart, elbows locked into your sides and hands facing forward holding the weights. Bend your elbows, bringing the weights up towards your shoulders. Lower your arms back to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 8–12 reps.
Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a chair behind you. Your feet should be flat on the floor, heels directly under knees, and your bottom should be just off the chair. Bending your elbows, slowly lower your body towards the ground, stopping when your shoulders are level with your elbows. Raise yourself back up to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 8–12 reps.
Holding weights, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and start with your hands on your thighs. With a slight bend in your elbows and your arms straight, lift your arms out in front of you. Stop when the weights are level with your shoulders. Slowly return the weights to start position. Do 2 sets of 8–12 reps.
Choose a weight you can comfortably lift 8–12 reps with. You should be tiring by the last couple."