Wanted to share with you one of my workouts from last week. The exercises are low impact, but can be very challenging when done properly. I did each exercise in a Tabata format, which means I did 20 seconds of hard work, followed by 10 seconds rest, and repeated that 8 times for each exercise. This means I got a good workout in all in under 20 minutes! I promise, even though it’s short- you will feel a burn!
The purpose of my workout was to really focus on alignment of my spine, as well as engaging my inner thighs in my motions to square and strengthen my hips in alignment. As someone who has always liked to squat a heavy weight, I had slowly developed some imbalances in strength in my hips. Heavy squatting is often done with a knee and toe turn out, which works more your outer hips. Slowly over time my inner thighs started to become quite weak, which was showing up as knee issues during running and hiking.
If you want a whole body, low impact, medium intensity routine to add to your week, give this one a try:
Exercise #1: Hamstring curls.
These aren’t your typical hamstring curls! To start, place a yoga block between your knees. Your job will be to squeeze that block together to activate your inner thighs and abdominals to a greater degree, and stabilize your pelvis during the motion. Once the inner thighs are active, press the hips up in the air using the glutes. With the glutes in the air, extend your legs out and then pull them back under your body using your hamstrings (backs of your legs). Ensure your core is absolutely braced the whole time.
Exercise #2: Lat pull down with leg lowers.
This one will work your core, as well as your back muscles (lats). You will need to have a space where you can hook a band up behind your head, to use as resistance for the muscles. Once you are set up on the mat, like I am in the photo below, you are going to lift your knees up into a 90 degree position. Then, exhale and strongly engage your core, followed by a straight arm lat pull down combined with dropping one leg to the floor (takes a bit of coordination!). Some things that often go wrong in this exercise and cause pain: allowing your ribs to ‘pop’, allowing your core to disengage so that your lower back is doing all the work. Go really slow with this one, use your breathing and core engagement to make it effective and challenging.
Exercise #3: Tricep pull down with ab/inner thigh squeeze.
Here is a great exercise to strengthen the back of your arms, while at the same time working your inner thigh and abs. Laying on your back, using the same band set up as the exercise above, and bring your knees up to the same 90 degree position. This time, hold a block between your knees. Your job is going to be squeezing that block together the whole time (which also nicely activates your core). Keeping your elbows pinned on the floor, slowly squeeze your arms into a straight position. Make sure to lock your wrists out! Keep those abs tight, as always.
Exercise #4: Side Plank with added stability requirement.
Here is a challenging side plank variation (not for beginners). If you are new to side planks, you can try just holding a side plank from your knees/toes, or moving your top leg with your bottom knee bent.
The reason why I love this exercise: It requires you to brace strongly with your core (to protect your back, and work core stability), while you breathe and move your leg back and forth (mimicking more of a functional movement exercise).
Give it a try!
Exercise #5: One leg Squat
One leg squats are extremely hard, and require a tremendous amount of flexibility, mobility, and strength. In this example I am strengthening the ‘squarenesss’ of my hips in this position and movement. I am using a bar as gentle support to help me out of the bottom of my squat, but most of all I am really squeezing against the yoga block with my inner thighs to stabilize my pelvis, and activate my core. My goal is one day to do a pistol squat! A beginner friendly version would be to do a one leg glute lift, like I showed on the previous workout blog, which you can find HERE.
So have fun with it! Let me know how you do, if you need modifications, and if you find it fun 🙂
And remember- consistency is better than intensity, better to do a small workout every day then just a few intense ones each week.