No More Sit-ups? Hooray!

Instead of working on trimming down my 4,500 word deficit for NaNoWriMo yesterday, I decided to stick to my usual program and go through the Sunday paper, as well as clip coupons. (Believe it or not, I actually do save money—as long as I remember to bring them with me. Last week, I saved an additional $7 with a 10% off grocery purchases coupon—woohoo!)

All it takes is one good article for me to justify going through the paper. I tend to skim through the news, only reading those articles with intriguing headlines or pictures. But when I get towards the features or pop culture section, that’s when I concentrate. (It’s a backlash from all the literary and scientific readings that I had to do in college.)

This week I saw an article in the Chicago Tribune that made it worth my while—”The Good News: No More Sit-Ups” by Julie Deardorff. (I love her!) The article highlights top 5 exercises that women should avoid especially as they do more harm than good. Women have looser joints than men, so “poor form and too much weight can lead to stiff joints or even damage.” Not to mention, we have different fat distribution, so certain exercises end up building bulk in areas we don’t want. Highlights from the article…

Don’t do:
1) Sit-ups
2) Weighted squats
3) Behind-the-neck shoulder presses
4) Straight leg push-ups
5) Standing dead lifts

Instead do:

1) Bicycle crunches—lie on back, place hands neaxt to ears and start a pedaling motion with legs, lefting the left shoulder to the right knee and vice versa. (3 sets of 10)

2) Lunges (reverse lunges recommended for people with bad knees)—take a long, even stride forward (or backward) with one leg; be sure to keep knee at a 90-degree-angle with your food for support; try holding lunge for a minute on each side.

3) Seated shoulder press—hold a pair of dumbbells overhead with your arms straight and palms facing each other. Bend your right elbow out to the side until your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Press back up and repeat; do the same for left side. Don’t bring arms down too low or you’ll be putting unnecessary stress on the shoulders. (3 sets of 12 for each arm)

4) Push-ups on knees—focus on where you place your hands to make sure you’re working the chest, rather than letting your knees support you. For toning the chest and shoulders, try dumbbell bench press—lie flat on back and with arms straight up and dumbbells in hand, slowly lower arms to just past 90-degree angle or until you feel a slight stretch in your chest. (3 sets of 10)

5) Leg kick-backs—”Facing a wall, stabilize yourself with your arms and kick your right leg back as far as you can. Repeat 10 times and follow the same routine with your left leg. You should feel a burn in the back of your legs. Try two sets.”

It goes without saying that using slow, controlled movements is better than trying to whip through these quickly. Something to do during a commercial break or even while watching TV. (Or, in my case, during a particularly dull conference call).

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