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Strength training

Here is a strength training programme that will complement your cardio activity.

Start on your hands and knees. Knees are together and hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with arms straight and elbows soft (ie. don't lock your elbows). Slowly lower your torso to the ground, stopping once your elbows are at 90 degrees. Raise your body by pushing up to the starting position. Complete two sets of 8-12 repetitions.

  • 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, with 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 slowly raising your arms straight in front of you. 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 two sets of 8-12 repetitions.

  • Do keep your back straight and heels flat on the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles braced.
  • Don't let your knees come over your toes.

With your feet hip-width apart, step your right foot forward. This is your starting position. Lower yourself slowly, stopping before your left knee hits the ground. Keeping this form, slowly raise yourself to the starting position. This counts as one repetition on your right leg. Change legs and repeat the same up-down motion. Do two sets of 8-12 repetitions 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 and your knee travelling straight ahead – but not beyond your toes.

Sitting on the ball, walk your feet forward and lower your back slowly so it's flat. Cross your arms over your chest, making sure your heels are directly under your knees. Brace your abdominal muscles and push your lower back into the ball as you slowly curl up. Stop at 45 degrees, or when you start to feel your stomach shake. Hold for three seconds before lowering. Do two sets of 15-20 repetitions.

  • Do complete this exercise slowly.
  • Don't come up too far.

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Rest your heels on an exercise ball or chair. Pushing your lower back into the floor, lift your shoulder blades off the floor, then 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 two sets of 15-20 repetitions on each side.

  • Do keep your elbows back, level with your head, when you do the exercise – except when you twist towards your knee.
  • Don't pull your head up with your hands. Your neck needs to remain straight.

Lie on your right side with your head resting on your outstretched right arm and your left hand resting on your left hip. Your right leg on the floor can be bent for stability. Raise your left leg slowly, stopping at a comfortable height, then gently lower your left leg to the floor. Repeat 8-12 times. Repeat the exercise with your right leg to complete one set. Do two sets.

  • Do try one set with toes pointed during the exercise. Do the second set with feet flexed, ie. soles flat as if you were standing.
  • Don't 'throw' your leg up. Complete the exercise slowly. Take your time – it's not a race.
First published: Nov 2008



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