If You Like Tennis
Stash the yoga DVD and power down the treadmill — because, honestly, there is no better time than right now to step outside and mix up your workout. Tom Williams, a U.S. Olympic swimmer and owner of the Burn Fitness health club in Santa Monica, California, offers his strategies and advice on how to stay injury-free, better your results and go at it longer when you walk, run, bike, swim, and more. Do two sets of each exercise that matches your activity. In just two weeks, you'll feel stronger, look leaner, and channel your inner jock.
If you like to play tennis...
Focus on: A combo of leg strength and core work, especially for the obliques (the muscles at your waistline).
The payoff: More power on the court and a lower risk of injury.
What you'll need: A set of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells.
1. Balance Toe Touch
Targets abs, obliques, lower back, thighs, calves; improves balance
Stand on right leg, knee straight (not locked), and hinge forward from the waist, bringing torso parallel to floor as you lift left leg behind you to hip height. Touch right hand to toes. Hold for 10 seconds, engaging core muscles to maintain balance. Return to start. Do 10 to 20 reps; switch sides.
2. Standing Rotation
Targets shoulders, arms, abs, obliques
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells in hands, arms extended at chest height. Slowly twist torso as far as you can to the right, bringing left arm across body. Keep abs tight, hips and head facing forward. Return to center and twist to left. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, then increase pace and do 20 to 40 more.
3. Tennis Lunge
Targets abs, obliques, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Lunge forward with left foot, bending knees 90 degrees; keep torso straight. As you come forward, touch inside of left foot with left hand (elbow stays outside of knee). Step back to start. Do 10 to 20 reps; switch sides and repeat.
If You Like Hiking or Walking
Focus on: Sculpting your abs, glutes, hips and thighs.
The payoff: You'll walk farther and faster and burn more calories while sidestepping injuries — especially if you're hiking down a steep slope.
What'll you need: Nada — just your body weight (you can use a mat if you prefer it to the floor).
1. Single-Leg Bridge
Targets abs, lower back, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings
Lie faceup on floor, knees bent and thighs touching. Extend arms over head, palms up. Lift right leg 45 degrees, keeping thighs together. Press through left foot while lifting hips until body forms a straight line from shoulders to right foot. Hold for 3 counts. Slowly lower hips, barely touching floor; keep leg lifted. Do 10 to 20 reps; switch sides and repeat.
Targets abs, obliques, mid to lower back
Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms extended out to sides at chest height. Bend forward 90 degrees from the waist, with knees slightly bent. Keeping hips square, slowly twist upper body to the right, reaching left hand to right toes and extending right arm toward the ceiling. Hold for 5 counts, then return to center and repeat on opposite side. Do 10 to 20 reps, alternating sides.
3. Spin Squat
Targets core, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves
Stand with feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, elbows bent, hands parallel to shoulders. Sink into a low squat, bending knees 90 degrees; hold for 3 seconds. Pivoting on right foot, spin 180 degrees so you're now facing the opposite direction. Land immediately in a squat. Repeat, spinning 180 degrees back to start on right leg. Do 10 reps; switch legs and repeat.
If You Like Running
Focus on: Doing explosive jumps or leaps (aka plyometrics) to strengthen your core, hips, glutes, and thighs.
The payoff: Speed, agility and endurance, plus muscles that look oh-so-sexy.
What you'll need: A set of stairs or a step bench.
1. Speed Steps
Targets core, glutes, legs
Stand 6 to 12 inches in front of stairs with ball of right foot on first step, arms at sides and knees slightly bent. Quickly switch feet, powering from legs, not hips; keep torso tall, hips square and abs engaged. Alternate 20 to 40 fast steps without stopping.
Targets core, glutes, hamstrings, calves
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out to corners. Squat down, bending knees 90 degrees. Look up slightly, bringing hands to chest level as you sink body weight into heels. Explode upward as high as you can, powering through hips and using arms for momentum. Land in a squat and repeat; do 5 to 10 reps.
3. Traveling Shuffle
Targets core, hips, inner and outer thighs, quads
Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees bent into a half-squat with palms facing forward at chest height. Without straightening legs, shift weight onto left leg, bending right foot behind you. Spring to the right side as far as you can, landing on bent right leg. Hold for 3 counts, finding your balance, then jump back to left side. Do 10 to 20 reps, alternating sides.
If You Like Swimming
Focus on: Working your shoulders, arms, core, and hips with strength and balancing moves.
The payoff: Better endurance and proper form, as well as a smoother stroke and more powerful kick.
What you'll need: A resistance tube or band.
1. Stroke Reps
Targets shoulders, chest, outer and mid back, triceps
Tie a resistance band around a stable object, such as a bedpost, at waist height. Hold one end in each hand; extend arms forward. Take a step back, so there's some tension on the band. Bend 90 degrees from waist and slowly pull both hands toward hips until palms face ceiling. Hold at highest point for 2 counts and slowly return to start. Do 10 to 20 reps.
2. High Five
Targets chest, upper back, triceps, abs, obliques, hips
Begin in a full push-up position, hands aligned under shoulders, legs extended behind you. Lift left hand and rotate body to the left until left hand points to ceiling, forming a T shape with your body, balancing weight on edges of feet and right hand. Return to start and repeat on other side. Do 5 to 10 reps.
3. One-Legged Triceps Extension
Targets arms, core, hip flexors
Stand on the resistance band with right foot, holding other end of band in both hands with elbows close to ears and knuckles touching behind head. Extend arms toward ceiling; at the same time, lift left knee until left foot is next to right calf. Engage your abs to help maintain balance, and hold for 3 counts. Slowly lower foot and hands together; do 10 to 20 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
If You Like Biking
Focus on: Targeting your hips, glutes, and legs with endurance-based (mostly higher reps and lower-weight) strength moves, as well as core-stabilizing exercises.
The payoff: More pedal power and fewer aches and pains when you log extra miles in the saddle.
What you'll need: A stability ball.
1. Jump Lunge
Targets glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves
Lunge forward with left leg, bending left knee 90 degrees; keep knee directly over ankle. From here, jump forward about 4 to 6 inches without switching legs, using arms for momentum. Stand up. Do 5 to 10 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
2. Ball Back Extension
Targets low to mid back, core, glutes, hamstrings
Lie down with your belly over the ball, feet hip-width apart, legs extended and feet anchored to the bottom of a wall. Lift your chest off the ball while raising both arms out 45 degrees, palms down. Hold for 3 counts and lower back to start; do 10 to 20 reps.
3. Ball Leg Curl
Targets lower back, abs, hips, glutes, hamstrings
Lie faceup on the floor with calves on the ball, feet flexed and arms on floor stretched out over head. Lift hips about 6 inches off the floor, forming a straight line from feet to shoulders. Slowly roll the ball toward glutes, until knees are bent 90 degrees and feet are flat on the ball. Slowly roll ball back to start and repeat; do 10 to 20 reps.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July 2007.