Friday, March 29, 2013

Perky Derrieres for Springtime! - Back-Kick Combo

It’s Springtime!  It finally feels like Springtime!  I don’t know about you but I just want to go sit, play, and relax outside, all day long.  The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and it’s warm but not hot….absolutely perfect.  Today was the first day of the year that I wanted to take care of my rose bushes and plant happy flowers in all the pots for the front step.  I think having pretty flowers in the front really help to put a cheery note on the day when you leave the house and then they welcome you back home, inviting you to relax and re-center.  Since this is typically a week for family gatherings, I encourage all of you to go for a stroll outside or simply just sit and enjoy the beautiful Spring weather.

For our exercise this week we are going to be focusing on our back-sides…our derrières that is!  Always a good this to do when shorts and swimsuits are looming in the near future.  So kick on and enjoy the rewards of perkier cheeks!

Back-Kick Combo 
This week we are working a back kick from the ground two ways: slow for endurance and fast for cardio.
Begin on all four with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.  Pull your belly in to support your lower back (feel as though your lower back is flat and long), open your chest and lift your head up.  Make sure to maintain this throughout the exercise!  It will protect your lower back! 
1.       Keeping your hips flat to the ground, bring your right knee up into your chest as high as you can; hold for 2-3 seconds.  Now, extend your right leg behind you by pressing back with your heel (you want to press straight back, not swing the leg down and back up).  Lift your leg as high as you can while still keeping your belly pulled in and your lower back flat; hold for 5 seconds.  You should feel your hamstring and glute really activate.  Repeat for 5 reps.

2.       Now it’s time to go fast!  Repeat the same movement as above but with no pauses or holds; go as fast as you can!  Remember to keep your belly in, back flat, and press through the heel.  Repeat for 25-35 reps.
Once you are done with 2., switch to your left leg kicking and repeat.  Once you are finished, go for 1-3 more rounds on each side.

I hope you all have a wonderful week enjoying the beautiful Spring weather!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

1, 2, 3, POWER! - Get Ready For Toned and Fabulous Arms!

Congratulations!  It’s now officially Spring!  Even though it sure doesn’t feel like it this week, Spring weather is coming soon; that means we’ll all be flashing our guns in no time…our super toned and fabulous arms that is.  However, if your arms aren’t quite as impressive as you’d like them to be, or you just want to make sure they stay looking great, then read on and enjoy this week’s arm blaster.

This week we are going to rock the arms with a triple jab/cross combo.  This exercise is fast-paced and endurance driven so get ready to work those arms and feel the burn!

1, 2, 3, POWER!
NOTE: Although I love the practical self defense application of practicing from an “on guard” position with your hands up to protect your face (this is what I am demonstrating in the photo with a “front two knuckle punch”), I have found that my cardio kickboxing students have better form and are able to work the full range of the movement easier if they just keep returning their hands to their armpits.  I also recommend doing a “thrust punch” which will keep the pinkie side of your hand down towards the ground the entire time; this will keep your elbows down throughout the punch (very important).  Again, to do the punch correctly, and get the most out of it, start from the armpits, keep your elbow down and in tight to your body the entire time, and extend your punch all the way (just shy of locking your elbow).  Once you have this, the rest is easy!

Start with your feet staggered (think of standing on the corners of a box) with your hands pulled up by your armpits.  If your right foot is in front, you are going to punch 3 times with your right hand (a “jab”) followed by 1 punch with your left hand (a “cross”).  This rear hand should have more power since you are able to use the torque and strength of your legs and hips in the strike.  As you are punching, think: fast, fast, fast, POWER…fast, fast, fast, POWER (no breaks allowed; keep the tempo up).  To help you keep your speed up, I recommend listening to some upbeat music with a fast, strong bass (in class we listen to Pandora’s “Dance Cardio Radio”).   

Go for 1 minute with your right as the 1, 2, 3 (and your right foot in front) and then 1 minute with your left as the 1, 2, 3 (with your left foot in front).  Remember to extend your punch all the way and then keep that arm coming back all the way to your armpit…this will get harder to do the farther into the 1 minute round you get.  But remember, if you want to sleeveless shirts with pride, keep going!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Sprinkler Move for your Core

Welcome to daylight saving time!  Isn’t it nice to have some more hours of daylight in the evening?  Daylight saving time means more time for the kids (and us) to go play outside, enjoy the outdoors, grill, and dream of all those warmer spring days ahead.  If you haven’t yet, take some time this week to go outdoors and enjoy the calming and rejuvenating nature of…nature!

This week we are working on our core muscles.  With more daylight hours and warmer weather comes more time gardening and working on the lawn.  This exercise will help you strengthen your side abdominal muscles, helping to keep you fit and feeling great during your twisting, turning, outdoor chores.

The Sprinkler
Sit with your legs fully extended, feet flexed.  Make sure you activate your leg muscles, feeling as though they are pressing together and lengthening out through your heels.  Pull your belly in toward your spine, lift out of your lower back, and open your chest.  Lift your arms up to shoulder level (yes, shoulder level, not below) and extend your arms in each direction; this will activate all of your arm muscles.  This is your foundation; maintain this position throughout the exercise (it will make sure you workout your entire body, focus on your core, and protect your lower back).  Now, lean back slightly and twist to the left while inhaling; return to center with your exhale (moving slowly).  Repeat on the other side.  Alternate sides for 15-20 sets (1 on each side = 1 set).

Do The Sprinkler as above but this time vary the tempo.  Try:
1.       Inhale to the left, exhale to the right (moderate tempo).  Repeat for 20-25 sets.
2.       Complete 1 full set (left and right) on each inhale and exhale (fast tempo).  Repeat for 25-30 sets.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Great Leg and Hip Workout -- Double-Bam Kick

Wow.  I feel like it has been ages since I was able to write my last blog; I apologize for the lapse!  These last two weeks have been a blur of snow, travel, and a lot of sickness.  As I often tell others: life is crazy!  You just have to make sure you keep moving forward.  That said, let’s jump right in to our exercise of the week!

This week we are going to focus on our quadriceps and hip flexors with the:

Double-Bam Kick

Begin with your feet separated, left foot in front; think of your feet being on the corners of a box.  In Kempo we call this a “half-moon stance”.  Bring your hands up “on guard” (knuckles in front of your chin), pull your belly in toward your spine, and lift your chest up.  Maintain this position throughout the exercise. 

Now it’s time for the “Double-Bam Kick”.  Bring your right knee up in front of your belly button while keeping your right foot pulled in tight by the left knee.  Think of this as your starting point for the kick.  For the kick you are going to do a double flick with the right foot; with each flick, extend the leg as high as you can and then return to the starting point position.  The goal is to keep your knee high and steady while you kick as quickly as you can.  Finally, you can step back down to the ground with your right foot.  Continue kicking with the right foot for 1 minute, then repeat with the left foot.  Feeling daring?  Go for 2-3 more rounds on each leg.
If you don’t feel like you are working your legs enough (ha), bend your standing leg more, lift your knee higher, and make sure you are doing the full extension and re-chambering of your kicking leg.  In addition, try to keep your upper body and hips totally still while you are kicking so that you isolate your quad and hip flexor muscles.