With my summer holiday to Corsica drawing closer (although it feels like summer has already ended in the UK) I’ve been increasingly noticing all of my squidgy bits. This week, when trying on bikinis under the rather harsh lights of the store changing room, I felt less than confident about baring my all in public.
In a last ditch attempt to tone-up pre-holiday I’m following a series of exercises from PT to the stars Dan Roberts, as featured in Women’s Health. Roberts promotes a method which encompasses plyometric training, mindfulness and martial arts, using dynamic, body weight exercises that help improve tone, stability, balance and strength.
The routine includes a daily set of 100 squats, a 3 minute half boat pose and (my least favourite) jumping split lunges. I’m using this programme in conjunction with my usual workout regime of yoga, running and circuits.
Four days into this new regimen and I’ve got that pleasant degree of muscle-ache that says something positive is happening. Today I even hit 200 squats!
I’m realistic in how much impact these exercises can have in the short term and with this in mind I bought a couple of throw-on jersey dresses to keep my stomach under wraps. But I also treated myself to a super-cute bikini, which I hope will get at least one outing during my trip.
Either way, I’m really enjoying (in a slightly sadistic way) pushing my body in a way not experienced while running, and if these exercises serve to strengthen my hamstrings, glutes and core, as the muscle ache implies that they are, then the long term benefits alone make them worthwhile.
In case you would like to join me in this rather gruelling routine the exercises are as follows with thanks from Women’s Health:
The mixed martial arts knee strike
Targets: glutes and hips; Improves: balance and fat burn
Start in a ‘fighter’s stance’ – left foot forward, knees slightly bent. Raise both arms up and to the left. Pull your hands down as you push your right knee up and out. Return to the starting position. Do 100 on each side.
The incline push-up test
Targets: upper body, core; Improves: strength, power
With palms on a chair, shoulder-width apart, get into a high plank. Keep your shoulders, hips and knees in a straight line. Bending at the elbows, lower yourself down, so your body stays in a straight line and then drive back up. Do 50 reps (rests permitted).
The mindful v-sit trial
Targets: abs and lower back; Improves: posture, focus and breathing
Sit in a half boat post – knees bent, feet lifted and thighs at a 90 degree angle with the floor. Keep your back straight and shoulders back and down. Gently place your hands on your knees and focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Aim to hold for 3 minutes.
The jumping split squat
Targets: lower body and glutes; Improves: cardio endurance
Start in a lunge, front knee bent 90 degrees to the ground, and back knee bent so it is almost touching the floor. Keep your torso upright. Jump, switching your feet mid-air. Keep going for as long as you can.
The sumo squat 100
Targets: inner thighs, core and glutes; Improves: hip flexibility
Stand with legs wide, knees soft and feet turned out. Squat down as low as you can go before driving back up to the start position. Repeat, 100 times!