- 30 May Increase Flexibility In 10 Minutes A Day Without Pain
- Five Ways to Increase Flexibility Quickly and Without Pain
- Increase Your Flexibility and Improve Your Life
- You Can Skip the Stretching and Still Get More Flexible
- Improve Your Range of Motion With These 4 Mobility Movements
- The mobility workout
30 May Increase Flexibility In 10 Minutes A Day Without Pain
Posted at 13:41h in Blog by Oleksiy Melnyk
The CompleteBody approach to fitness is comprised of 6 Essential Elements: Strength, Flexibility, Cardio, Nutrition, Meditation and Rest. Here we highlight flexibility, why it’s an integral part of your health and how to improve it.
Many people struggle to increase flexibility in their bodies due to pain, extreme stiffness in the ligaments, tendons, and muscles, and/or difficulty getting around. Unfortunately, staying inflexible just isn’t a good option. Inflexibility can lead to more injury and can severely impact mobility.
Inflexibility is detrimental to our overall health, and hinders our workouts, too. The good news is that you can increase flexibility quickly and steadily. While it doesn’t happen overnight, if you’re stretching every single day, you will notice more mobility and movement in your muscle s.
This guide will cover ways to increase flexibility in just ten minutes per day. But here’s the trick: you have to commit to stretching. Stay as consistent with a stretching routine as you would with a fitness routine or diet program.
Five Ways to Increase Flexibility Quickly and Without Pain
Do these five stretching techniques daily. This routine is well-rounded and will help you stretch your entire body. Often times, we focus just on muscles that are tight. What is important to note, though, is that the muscles are connected. Sometimes, we actually increase flexibility in our tightest areas by working out other muscles we didn’t realize were also inflexible!
1. Warm up with dynamic stretching (2 mins).
Dynamic stretching involves stretching through movement.
- Jumping Jacks
You might not think of these movements as stretches, but they actually are (read more things you might not know about stretching here). Experts suggest that you should do dynamic stretches during a warmup, rather than relaxed or static stretching.
In a 10 minute daily stretching routine, you only need a couple of minutes to warm up. Take 2 of the 8 minutes to warm up your body with these exercises. Do not pause in between them.
- Start with burpees. Complete 5 full burpees in this way: From a standing position, squat to the ground, put your hands on the floor, and kick your feet back so that you are in a push-up position. Then, come back to a squat (jumping your feet forward, if you can) and then jump up into standing position, coming straight back to a squat. Repeat the entire move 5 times.
- Complete 10 lunges with both legs.
- Squat 10 times with your own body weight (bring knees to 90 degrees and keep your feet flat on the floor).
- Complete 20 jumping jacks.
If there is any time left, continue with jumping jacks, squats, or lunges.
2. Stretch your upper body (2 mins, 30 secs).
All too often, people stretch only their lower bodies (hips, hamstrings, quads, and calves). Unfortunately, doing that misses the mark, because our bodies are actually connected in many ways. For example, people who have tight hips also likely have tight shoulders (read about shoulder hip connection ).
Take three minutes to stretch your upper body. When you stretch, never stretch to the point of pain. There are many variations of these, and you may have to find one that doesn’t cause pain.
As a side note, that’s one major benefit of working with a personal trainer. It may take you quite a while to find variations to exercises that you can do without pain. But a knowledgeable trainer will help you quickly and easily find something that works.
Follow this upper body stretching routine. Once you’ve gone through it, repeat it one time.
- Simple neck stretch: Lean your head to the right, attempting to bring your ear to your shoulder. If needed, gently hold your head in place with your right hand, but do not push your head down. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the left side and hold that side for 30 seconds, also.
- Chest stretch: Lying on a bench, hold dumbbells in either hand (light dumbbells work fine for this). Open your arms wide and allow your hands to fall to the floor, opening and stretching your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Shoulder stretch a: Extend your right arm straight across your body as you stretch your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the left side and hold for 30 seconds.
- Should stretch B (do this on alternate days or if you have extra time): Kneeling, extend both arms all the way out, palms flat (as in the image above). Hold for 60 seconds for a very intense, deep shoulder stretch.
3. Stretch your back gently (2 mins, 30 secs)
Borrowing simple movements from yoga, stretch your back to increase flexibility in your entire body. Do the following exercises daily. Extend the movements as far as possible in order to increase flexibility over time. Remember not to push further than your body can go.
- Cat-cow. Start on your hands and knees. Breathing in, lower your chin to your chest and tilt your pelvis inward, arching your back outward (cat). Your upper back should be very rounded. Hold for 3-5 natural breaths or 30 seconds. Take a deep breath in, and then breathe all the way out, lifting your chin to the ceiling and bowing your back (cow). Hold this position for 3-5 natural breaths or 30 seconds.
- Supine twists. Supine twists gently stretch both sides of your mid to lower back. Lay on the floor with legs outstretched. Lift one leg toward the ceiling, and then cross it over the opposite leg, bending at the knee. Allow the knee to fall to the floor, twisting your back. If your knee does not touch the floor, do not force it. Twist only as far as your back allows without pain. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
- Lower back. While lying on your back, lift both knees to your chest. This simple, gentle stretch increases flexibility in the lower back (and feels really good, too). Hold it for 30 seconds.
4. Now, stretch your lower body (3 mins).
This is the longest part of your daily stretch. During these three minutes, you’ll increase flexibility in the hips, quads, hamstrings, and calves using just a few gentle stretches. These stretches are well-known for improving mobility and increasing flexibility in the body quickly.
- Hip Flexor Stretch: You can do this stretch a number of ways. The simplest way is to kneel on one knee (which automatically begins stretching the hip flexor). For a deeper stretch, push the hip forward. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
- Inclined Glute, Hamstring & Calf Stretch: Like the hip flexor, you can stretch your glutes, hamstrings, and calves in many ways. But for those who are really inflexible, one way is safer than others! To stretch safely, gently, and without pain, squat, and then stretch one leg straight out as shown in the image above. This stretch uses gravity to stretch the hamstring (also stretches the glutes and calves). Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
- Quad stretch. Wrap up your stretch routine by standing and gently pulling one foot back toward your glutes, bending at the knee. Ideally, your knee should be able to bend all the way back, but if it doesn’t, no worries. It will eventually. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with the other leg.
To increase flexibility long term, you have to stretch every day. It is absolutely possible to get bendy without stretching for hours. Remember to keep at it, though, because some days you may notice improvement, and then other days, you might feel like you’ve taken a few steps back. That’s okay. The key with stretching is to keep going until you see a breakthrough.
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Increase Your Flexibility and Improve Your Life
Why Does Flexibility Matter?
You’ve managed to make it to Spinning class (for the second time this week!), but as soon as the instructor starts the cooldown, you head for the door. Hold it right there. Turns out, stretching is just as important as getting on the bike in the first place.
Although countless studies have shown how beneficial exercise is for your body and mind (it may do everything from reducing the risk of some cancers to helping improve memory), less attention has been paid to flexibility. But doctors and physical therapists agree that it’s a vital part of keeping your body fit and able. “Flexibility is the third pillar of fitness, next to cardiovascular conditioning and strength training,” says David Geier, the director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, and a spokesperson for the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. In fact, flexibility can help your body reach its optimum fitness level, may play a role in injury prevention, and can even contribute to staving off conditions like arthritis and more serious illnesses.
Here’s how it works: When you stretch a muscle, you lengthen the tendons, or muscle fibers, that attach it to the bone. “The longer these fibers are, the more you can increase the muscle in size when you do your strength training,” says Geier. That means that a more flexible muscle has the potential to become a stronger muscle, too. In turn, building strong muscle fibers may boost your metabolism and your fitness level. Flexible muscles also make everyday activities easier on your body and may decrease your risk of certain injuries. Common behaviors, like hunching over the computer, can shorten some muscles. That, along with the natural loss of muscle elasticity that occurs with aging, can set you up so any quick or awkward motion (lunging to catch a glass before it teeters off the table, for example) could stretch your muscles beyond their limit, resulting in a strain or a tear. “Even if you’re aerobically fit, it helps to be limber, too, so your body can easily adapt to physical stressors,” says Margot Miller, a physical therapist in Duluth, Minnesota, and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association.
What’s more, stretching may improve your circulation, increasing blood flow to your muscles. And having good circulation can help protect you against a host of illnesses, from diabetes to kidney disease. Greater flexibility has even been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2009 study in the American Journal of Physiology indicated that people age 40 and older who performed well on a sit-and-reach test (a seated forward bend that measures flexibility) had less stiffness in their arterial walls, an indicator of the risk for stroke and heart attack.
How to Get—and Stay—Flexible
First off: How flexible do you need to be? Not as much as you might think. Sliding into a split may be a good late-night cocktail-party trick, but it’s not necessary to living a healthy life. The general rule of thumb is, you need to be as flexible as your lifestyle dictates, says Malachy McHugh, director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. For example, in the world of sports, long-distance runners are known to be notoriously inflexible. But that’s OK, because their bodies don’t need a lot of flexibility to move forward in a relatively straight line, says McHugh. A gymnast, on the other hand, needs a lot of flexibility to be able to flip and tumble without injury.
The rest of us need a level of flexibility that’s somewhere in the middle. To increase your flexibility, start with about 10 minutes of stretching a day, focusing on the major muscle groups: upper body (arms, shoulders, neck), back, and lower body (thighs, calves, ankles). (See The Ultimate Daily Stretch on the next page.) Then, depending on how you typically spend your time, focus on specific stretches for problem-prone areas. So if you’re pretty much parked at a desk from nine to five, you’ll want to give extra attention to your lower back and shoulders. If you’re on the move—picking up toddlers and bags of groceries, perhaps—concentrate on your hamstrings and arms.
If you don’t have 10 minutes a day to spare, stretching just a few times a week can be nearly as beneficial. In fact, that may be enough to help you stay supple once you’ve gotten there. A study published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research found that after stretching every day for a month, participants who went on to stretch just two or three times a week maintained their degree of flexibility. Those who stopped stretching, however, lost about 7 percent of their hip range of motion within a month.
Of course, you may find that stretching becomes one of your favorite parts of the day. Since you need to focus on even, deep breathing while listening to your body, stretching is a great relaxation or even meditation break. “The more you do it, the more you will get out of it—both physically and psychologically,” says Geier. No word yet on whether we can say the same about chocolate or The Real Housewives.
The Ultimate Daily Stretch
Warm up your muscles before you begin with a short walk or some jumping jacks. For each move, breathe out as you stretch. “You want a slow, smooth, and controlled movement,” says physical therapist Margot Miller. As you ease into each stretch, you’ll feel the muscles relax a bit—that’s due to increased blood flow. Only move to the point of resistance; the stretch should not hurt. Be careful not to bounce (sorry, Jane Fonda), which can cause tiny injuries to the muscles. Complete the whole sequence here, designed by Emmanuel Durand, head coach for the Cirque du Soleil show O, in Las Vegas, and Angelique Janov, a certified Pilates instructor and a contortionist coach for O. It should take about 10 minutes.
For Your Upper Body
Especially helpful if you sit at a desk all day, need to work on your posture, or carry tension in your upper body.
1. Place your hands on the back of your head and gently push it forward with your chin tucked. Hold for five seconds.
2. Now place the heels of your hands on your chin, fingers pointing toward your ears. Gently push your head back. Hold for five seconds.
3. Rest your right hand on the top of your head and gently press your right ear toward your right shoulder. Hold for five seconds. Repeat on the other side.
4. Raise your arms and clasp your hands above your head; imagine lifting and lengthening your spine. As you bend to the left, release your hands. Grasp your right elbow with your left hand and pull it to the left. Hold for five seconds. Come back to the center and repeat on the right side.
For Your Back
Especially helpful if you are prone to lower-back pain or like to run for a workout.
1. Lie on your stomach, legs straight and feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders and slowly lift your chest up. Hold for 10 seconds.
3. Come to a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart and pointed to the right. Lift the toes of your right foot off the ground, bend at the hip, and fold your body over. Hold for 10 seconds.
4. Come back to a standing position and repeat on the left side with toes pointing to the left.
For Your Lower Body
Especially helpful if you wear high heels frequently or like to run, walk, bicycle, or use an elliptical machine.
1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
2. Lift your right leg off the floor, holding it with both hands. Flex your foot and hold for five seconds. Lower and switch legs.
3. While still seated, bend your right knee and lift your leg. Pull your knee to your chest. Flex your foot and hold for five seconds. Lower your right leg and repeat with the left.
You Can Skip the Stretching and Still Get More Flexible
Static stretching has undergone a lot of criticism in recent years, mainly because it doesn’t do a lot of the things it’s supposed to. Most of the research out there shows that stretching has little effect on post-exercise muscle soreness, and doesn’t do much for injury prevention either.
Yet you’ve probably been told that stretching is vital when it comes to increasing your flexibility—that if you want to avoid becoming stiff and inflexible, you need to make the time to stretch. Or do you? While stretching is traditionally seen as the best way to increase your flexibility, it’s not the only way to do it. In fact, there’s a very simple way to get more flexible without doing any stretching at all, and it doesn’t involve adding anything to your workout. It may even save you time in the gym.
Strange as it might sound, simply lifting weights is a highly effective way to improve your flexibility. In some cases, it works just as well as static stretching. Dive into the research, and you’ll find plenty of evidence to show just how effective resistance training is for increasing your flexibility.
In one study, for instance, researchers looked at the effect of three months of resistance training on flexibility in a group of male athletes training to compete in the Brazilian National Judo Championships. Compared to a control group who did nothing but judo-specific training, lifting weights three times a week led to significant improvements in flexibility in the shoulders, trunk, and hips.
What’s more, the training program they used wasn’t anything complicated or fancy. All the men did was three sets of 10-12 reps of the bench press, lat pulldown, shoulder press and biceps curl for the upper body, along with the squat, leg press, leg extension, and leg curl for the lower body.
There’s more: Another study divided college-age volunteers into groups doing static stretching, resistance training, or nothing at all. The study measured flexibility at the knee, hip, and shoulder. After five weeks, static stretching fared no better than resistance training for improving flexibility.
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In fact, some participants in the strength training group showed a greater increase in flexibility than the stretching group. “There’s an old notion that if you do resistance training, you have to stretch those muscles too,” says James R. Whitehead, executive vice president of the American College of Sports Medicine and one of the study’s authors. “It’s a hangover to the myth that muscles lose flexibility as they get bigger.”
“The results suggest that carefully constructed, full-range resistance training regimens can improve flexibility as well as, or perhaps better than, typical static stretching regimens,” he adds.
What’s more, the findings aren’t specific to healthy, college-age men and women, or highly-trained athletes. Strength training has also been shown in various trials, such as this one and this one, to improve flexibility in elderly men and women in their late 60s and 70s.
More interesting still, the heavier the weight, the greater the increase in flexibility. In one six-month study, a group of men trained with weights that were 40, 60, or 80 percent of their one-rep max. Flexibility improved in a weight-dependent manner. That is, the men who trained with the heaviest weights were the ones who saw the greatest change in flexibility. Participants who trained with light weights did see an improvement in flexibility, but to a lesser extent than subjects in the medium and heavy groups.
Strength training, in other words, doesn’t make you muscle-bound, stiff, or inflexible. On the contrary, lifting weights through a full range of motion contributes to the development and maintenance of flexibility, all without the need for additional stretching. That means there’s little point in doing separate stretching sessions, since a well-designed training program should take every joint through its full range of movement.
The bottom line: Stretching isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, many beliefs about the benefits of stretching—from easing post-workout muscle soreness to reducing your risk of injury—lack strong evidence to support them. Yes, stretching does make you more flexible, but so does lifting weights. And it does so at the same time as making your muscles bigger and stronger.
That’s not to say you should quit stretching altogether. The amount of time you spend stretching will depend very much on your individual circumstances, and the range of motion you need at a particular joint. Stretching may also make you feel good: Sometimes it’s nice to finish off a tough workout with a few stretches. And, much like scratching an itch, stretching out a “tight” muscle will often make you feel better.
But, for a lot of people, stretching is a bit of a chore—yet another thing to make time for. Something else to go on your “stuff I know I should be doing more of, but I’m not” list. You only want to be as flexible as you need to be. If you don’t need a certain range of motion, it’s a waste of time training for it. And spending less time on stretching gives you more workout time to devote to getting stronger.
Christian Finn is a UK-based personal trainer who holds a masters degree in exercise science.
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There’s more to fitness than just pure strength – flexibility and mobility matter too. You’re going to have a hard time doing exercise if you can’t bend far enough to perform any of the movements. Here’s how to improve those skills.
While colloquially, “flexibility” and “mobility” may sound the same, they are different concepts with important impacts on your fitness. I think Tony Gentilcore, Co-Founder of Cressey Sports Performance, put it most succinctly:
Mobility: how a joint moves
Flexibility: length of a muscle
Essentially, think of mobility as an umbrella covering a range of factors that may affect the range of motion around a joint. One of these components is flexibility – it’s difficult to move a joint if the connected muscles around it don’t stretch far enough to allow it. But there are other considerations that come into play as well, like not having the strength to perform the exercises, soft tissue damage (e.g. inflamed tendons), and even problems with other joints in the same chain of movement. So while an adequately stretched muscle may, in theory, be conducive to a greater range of movement around a joint, it’s basically useless if your mobility is constricted by other factors.
So why should you care? Beyond just working out in the gym, both mobility and flexibility affect your joint health in everyday life as well. Think about it this way: if you have a general mobility problem that affects how you move, your body isn’t going to be functioning in the way it’s supposed to. Over time you can suffer more wear-and-tear, as well as general discomfort, than if the area around the joint could move as normal. Also, when you’re exercising you’re essentially performing these training these faulty movements under higher intensity and greater stress, so painful injuries can accumulate over time. Tony gives the example of basketball players, many of whom limit their ankle mobility with high-top sneakers. In doing so, this limits the capacity for the ankle to work, balance, and absorb shock like it’s supposed to, frequently leading to knee problems later on.
So mobility is important, and flexibility is a part of that, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend an extra hour in the gym every day limbering up all your joints. Matthew Ibrahim, strength and conditioning coach, recommends working on areas that you know are tight and have a history of limited movement. Everything else is superfluous.
Common problem areas are the hips, shoulders, knees and upper back. If you’ve experienced trouble in these areas, or others, here are three key steps to help loosen the areas up:
- Foam Rolling: Sometimes excruciating but usually effective, foam rolling is essentially a self-massage technique to help you release tight spots in your muscles. If you’re unsure how to begin, Eric Cressey has a great video to help you get started.
- Mobility Drills: These are exercises that are specifically geared towards training your range of motion around joints. MobilityWOD is probably the most comprehensive source of drills on the internet – just search up the relevant body part on the site and an appropriate set of exercises should come up.
- Stretch: This isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re a naturally bendy person stretching can make your joints more vulnerable to injury than if you just left it out. But if you’ve always been fairly stiff, and it’s stopping you from performing exercises correctly, you may benefit from a few short stretches as part of your warm up, and longer stretches for after your workout.
Image by Angela Aladro mella.
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If you think that to be flexible you either had to be naturally built that way or have begun yoga as a child, think again.
Because good mobility can be taught, and in just 10-minutes.
Mobility is important, especially as we get older. Good mobility helps alleviate joint pain, carry weight evenly across our body and allows us to move freely and easily.
It’s particularly important if you engage in other forms of exercise that may stiffen your muscles, or aren’t very active at all (which has the same effect), working on your flexibility
We spoke to mobility expert, and founder of Workshop Gymnasium at London’s exclusive Bvlgari Hotel, Lee Mullins to find out exactly how we can all improve our mobility with just five easy exercises.
Lee recommends doing this sequence in the morning to set you up for the day.
MORE: THIS HANDY GUIDE SHOWS WHICH EXERCISES YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO AT EVERY AGE
1. Diaphragmatic breathing
‘Our shoulders and back are the first places to get blocked up,’ Lee explains. We hold a lot of tension in our upper back and many of us have learned bad posture over the years.
‘This is also exacerbated by the fact that we are often breathing incorrectly,’ says Lee. ‘We breath from our chests, which locks our thoracic spine, but really we should breath from our stomachs.’
How to do the exercise:
Spend one to two minutes laying flat on the floor with your right hand on your stomach. Breathe in to the count of four, hold for four seconds and then breath to the count of four. Wait a further four seconds before breathing in again.
2. Happy cat, sad cat
This exercise is gentle but very effective at helping to mobilize the spine.
How to do the exercise:
Kneel on all fours with hands shoulder width apart and feet hip width apart with a flat back. Breathing slowly, round your back upwards and lower your head. Hold for a few seconds and then lower your back down, pushing your bum upwards, and lift your head up. Repeat the exercise five times.
3. World’s greatest stretch
‘It’s called this because if you only have time to do one stretch, this should be it,’ Lee tells us. ‘It mobilises the hips and hamstrings to give you a better range of motion.’
How to do the exercise:
Start in lunge position, left leg forward, foot flat on floor, knee bent 90 degrees, right leg extended behind you, right ball of foot on floor, hands on floor inside left leg, back flat. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
Finally, place your hands on floor on either side of left leg, then shift the hips back and straighten your left leg in front, foot flexed, keeping back as flat as possible with right leg extended behind you.
Then repeat on the other side.
4. Align 90/90 stretch
Great for opening up upper body, particularly the chest, we love this stretch because it simply involves laying on your side.
MORE: CYCLING TO WORK COULD HELP YOU LIVE LONGER, SAY SCIENTISTS
How to do the exercise:
Lay on your right side with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle, one on top of the other. Bring your arms forward, palms together (so the back of right hand rests on the floor), and from here lift your left hand over to the other side so that your upper body is in a T shape.
Turn your head to face the left side and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 10 times on each side.
5. Glute bridges
These hip extension exercises also really help to strengthen leg muscles and require you to engage your core muscles that will help your overall balance improve.
How to do the exercise:
Lay flat on the floor with your knees up. Lift your toes so that only the heel of your foot is in contact with the ground and then raise your body off the ground, keeping your shoulders flat to the mat.
Keep your arms on the floor parallel to your body to help you balance and squeeze your buttocks together. Hold at the top for a moment or two and then lower yourself slowly back down. Repeat between 10 and 15 times.
Lee’s Bulletproof x Workshop mobility classes will be running throughout May and June at the Bvlgari Hotel in London.
(Images: Lee Mullins/Workshop Gymnasium)
Improve Your Range of Motion With These 4 Mobility Movements
Mobility, the ability to have full range of motion in your muscles and joints, is one of the most important aspects of fitness. Improving your mobility can help you exercise better, prevent injuries and reduce joint pain, says Gold’s Gym Fitness Expert Lisa Brownlee.
Some people think mobility means flexibility, but it’s more than that. Flexibility allows you to lengthen a muscle. Mobility allows you to move that muscle in many different ways.
Mobility training can also improve your quality of life, since improving the ease of motion you feel during an exercise can improve the ease of motion you feel doing everyday tasks. Brownlee has seen many cases where a person’s lack of mobility exacerbates back and knee problems. “The muscles around those areas will start to tighten, which will lead to other stiff joints, which will lead to more pain,” Brownlee says. “So the pain increases because of the limited range of motion.”
The mobility workout
These four mobility moves can be used as a 5–10 minute circuit or individually integrated into your stretching and warmup routine. Either way, they can help you move better. “These are my go-to moves,” Brownlee says. (If you’re looking for additional ways to improve your mobility, consider yoga.)
The equipment you’ll need:
- A mat
- A PVC pipe
- A resistance band
- PVC passes
- Lunges with the “world’s greatest stretch”
- Band pullovers
Areas of focus: hamstrings, calves, hips
Stand at the back of the mat with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor. Reach your hands to the floor and push your hips back, trying to keep your knees as straight as you can. Walk your hands forward until you are in a full plank position. At this point, you should be in a plank with your hands under your shoulders, core tight. From here, walk your hands back to your toes, keeping your knees as straight as possible as you lift your hips in the air. Stand up completely and repeat as directed.
The goal: Do three rounds of 5–10 reps, depending on your fitness level.
Areas of focus: shoulders, upper back, neck, chest
Hold the PVC pipe horizontally against the front of your body, with your hands down and set wide (if you don’t have a PVC pipe, you can use a band or a broomstick). Lift the pipe overhead, and, if possible, bring your arms all the way behind you to touch your hips in the back. If you have limited shoulder mobility or this causes pain, you can just bring the pipe straight overhead or slightly behind your head. You can also make your hands wider or bring them closer in, depending on your mobility level. Keep your core tight and ribs down so you don’t arch your back.
The goal: 10 lifts
Lunges with the “world’s greatest stretch”
Areas of focus: thoracic spine and hips
Take an extended lunge forward with your right foot. In lunge position, lean forward and put both hands on the ground. Twist and reach your left hand straight up into the sky, looking at your fingers. Take four deep breaths, and then put your hand back on the ground. Return to standing position, and then repeat on the opposite side by leading with your left foot forward.
The goal: Do once with each foot forward, breathing deeply for each side.
Areas of focus: shoulders, scapula, hips, spine, ribs
With an attached band accessible overhead, lie flat with your back on the mat. Extend arms overhead to grip the band, keeping your hands slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. For the movement, keep your hips, lower back, shoulders and head glued to the ground. In a single fluid motion, pull the band from overhead all the way to your hips. Pause, and then, still holding the band, bring your arms back overhead in a controlled manner. If your lower back starts to come off the ground, push your belly back to the ground by tightening your core. If it’s still coming off the ground, limit your range of motion overhead until your mobility improves. Make sure you are not bringing your shoulders up to your ears.
The goal: Three rounds of 10–15 reps. Your last rep should have a better range of motion than your first.