This month I thought we would start throwing our weight around a bit more! You can use dumbbells if you have them, or alternatively you can raid the kitchen cupboard for handy substitutes, like tins of baked beans, full water bottles or bags of rice; make sure they are secure by wrapping them in a pillowcase or something soft, as the rice is a devil to sweep up if the bag bursts! The following exercises are all aimed at targeting the chest area, as the benefits of a strong, toned chest improve our overall posture and shape, as well as the following:
• Improved posture while sitting – reducing tightness in the shoulders
• Improved form and strength for physical activities
• Reduced risk of injuries
• Improved flexibility
• Back strengthening
• Better breast/pectoral support
• Better breathing by opening up the chest.
The following five exercises can be done in 2-4 sets of up to 20 reps at a time, depending on your fitness levels and the weights used.
The dumbbell pullover is a great exercise for chest and back growth, as both muscle groups are primary movers. Start by lowering the weight down as far as you can, keeping the arms straight. Then reverse the movement by bringing the weight back up the same exact way, flexing your chest at the top of the exercise. Repeat this for the desired number of repetitions.
With your back on the floor (or a ‘Bosu ball’ as I am using) hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms bent at the elbow at a right angle, and forearms vertical. The dumbbells should be in line with each other, but if you’re plagued by shoulder problems, you can rotate the dumbbells 90 degrees so they are parallel to each other instead. Push the dumbbells away from you and straight upwards, straightening your arms, then bring them back down slowly. As you get better at these, you can try bringing them lower than your shoulders on the return, and bringing them together at the top (although don’t let them touch).
Start by lying on your back with your feet placed flat on the floor, holding the dumbbells with your palms facing inward. Push the dumbbells directly above your chest with lightly bent elbows, keeping your wrists straight. Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells toward the floor at shoulder height, maintaining a soft roundness with your arms. Stop when the backs of your upper arms touch the mat then exhale and slowly raise the dumbbells back to the starting position. Don’t rush these; they won’t be effective if you don’t take it slowly and keep an eye on your back, you don’t want to strain it.
Reverse Grip Shoulder Press
Start off standing with feet hip-width apart, gripping your weights in each hand at shoulder height, with your palms facing you. Push the weight upwards, until you feel that stretching your shoulders, then lower back down slowly and repeat.
Upright Frontal Raise
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight and feet planted flat on the floor, hold the weights across the thighs, hands facing back towards your legs. Make sure that you have a firm grip on your weights, lift them upwards whilst breathing in, arms out front and palms facing the floor. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows will reduce the stress on your joints. When your arms are roughly horizontal with the floor, take a moment and feel the contraction in your shoulders. Return to the starting position slowly and under control, whilst breathing out.
Firing up the barbeCue!
You’ll have worked up an appetite after all that work, so I’ve got a great idea for something different to go on your barbecues.
These paneer tikka kebabs are a great vegetarian alternative; so easy to prepare in advance, and along with these Indian style potatoes and a fresh crisp salad, you have an easy and tasty meal.
Paneer is a fresh unsalted cheese, with a similar texture to halloumi and doesn’t melt with heat, so is ideal skewered and used for kebabs.
That’s it for this month. Hopefully next month we’ll be starting to see a return to normality, and I might even see you in some of Lincoln’s beautiful parks as the weather continues to improve. Until then, stay safe and healthy!
Ian Eassom is a Lincoln-based mobile personal trainer. Ian can offer private online one-to-one sessions, with bespoke exercise and diet plans to suit you. Ian can also offer individual training sessions in person subject to the latest social distancing advice. Don’t forget there’s a special offer for Lincolnshire Life readers! For the latest information, visit www.ianeassom.co.uk