Your De-Stress Routine
What you'll need:
- A watch with a second hand
- A mat or carpeted surface
Do each exercise series for 5 to 6 minutes; repeat once. For the final 3 to 5 minutes, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with eyes closed and breathe deeply.
Step 1: Reverse Plank to Lower-Back Stretch
Strengthens chest, back, and arms; stretches arms, lower back, hips and glutes.
- Sit with hands on floor next to hips, fingers forward and palms flat, with legs extended and chest arched toward ceiling.
- Press into feet, lifting hips as high as you can; hold for 30 seconds.
- Lie back and hug knees into chest; rock gently through the hips for 30 seconds.
Step 2: Elbow Plank to Prone Press-Up
Strengthens and stretches shoulders, back, and core.
- Begin in plank position, palms and forearms on floor with elbows under shoulders and arms parallel, legs extended behind you, forming a straight line from head to heels.
- Hold for 30 seconds, keeping abs tight.
- Lower body to floor, then lift abs and chest, arching upper back; hold for 30 seconds.
Step 3: Plié to Full Seated Bend
Strengthens shoulders, hips, and thighs; stretches shoulders, back, and thighs.
- Stand in plié position, feet shoulder-width apart and turned out.
- Lift arms overhead in a wide V position.
- Bend knees 90 degrees, keeping knees aligned with toes; pulse up and down 2 inches for 30 seconds.
- Sit with legs extended, hip-width apart.
- Hinge forward from hips and grasp feet or shins.
- Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply.
Step 4: Front Lunge to Forward Elbow Fold
Strengthens upper back and thighs; stretches shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and lunge forward with left leg; keep left knee aligned over ankle.
- Raise hands overhead, palms facing each other. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on other side.
- Return to start, feet hip-width apart with knees slightly bent.
- Hinge forward from hips; grasp opposite elbows and hang for 20 to 30 seconds.
Step 5: Side Elbow Plank to Overhead Reach
Strengthens and stretches shoulders, arms, core, and obliques.
- Lie on left side, hips stacked and elbow on floor under shoulder, right arm extended toward ceiling, right foot staggered in front of left.
- Lift hips, balancing on lower arm and edges of feet.
- Hold for 20 seconds.
- Lower hip to floor and arc right arm overhead, reaching for 20 seconds.
- Switch sides; repeat.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, December 2007.