3 easy moves to tone your legs and tummy
Turbo-charge your workout with some help from a weighted ball. Use these three simple moves to improve balance, and tone your legs and midsection
The benefits of a weighted ball workout
Adding a weighted or medicine ball-or any ball, such as a soccer or beach ball-to your workouts is a simple way to provide resistance for muscle toning and a fun way to vary your routine. “Weighted balls as fitness tools have been around for centuries, but have lately become popular as trainers look for ways to make exercises more functional and adaptable to everyday life,” says Erin Phelan, a fitness instructor and certified personal trainer in Toronto. “The ball can be used to tone any area of your body, but is particularly useful in improving core strength.” The following exercises will do just that. You can even grab your ball and do these moves outside.
Here’s how to get started:
• Weighted ball. They start as light as one to two pounds. For these exercises, choose one between three pounds (if you are a beginner) and 10 pounds (if you are advanced). A convenient size to fit in your hands is seven to 10 inches in diameter. Or use an unweighted beach, soccer or volleyball.
• Shoes. Wear cross-trainers, or any shoes that are supportive and allow movement in all directions.
• Warm-up. To get your muscles ready to work, walk briskly around the block or on the spot for three minutes.
• How often. Do our routine three times a week. For a well-rounded program, add cardio. And stretch after every workout.
1. Body Sway with Side Stretch
“This is a great exercise to help strengthen your oblique muscles. It also improves your flexibility,” says Phelan.
A. Stand with your feet parallel, shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold the ball overhead in both hands. Arms are also slightly bent.
B. (Shown) Step your right foot inward to touch your left foot, and stretch at the waist to your left, while also moving the ball left. Keep your head centred between your elbows, while drawing down your shoulder blades.
C. Return to the starting position. Then step your left foot inward, stretching toward the right and swinging the ball toward the right. Do a total of 12 repetitions.
2. Back Curl with Leg Lift
“This works your triceps plus your hamstrings-an important area to strengthen to avoid lower back pain and injury,” says Phelan.
A. Stand with legs together and your feet parallel. Hold the ball with both hands and raise your arms overhead, stretching toward the ceiling.
B. (Shown) Bend both elbows backwards, lowering the ball behind your head. At the same time, bend your right leg back, bringing your heel toward your buttock. Maintain a straight line from your right elbow to your knee, and keep thighs aligned.
C. Return to starting position, and do the same move with your left leg. Do 12 repetitions.
3. Ball to Knee Leg Raise
“This is an excellent exercise to improve your core strength, balance and coordination-it’s a brain workout, too,” says Phelan. “And, as an added benefit, you will feel this in your shoulders.”
A. Stand with feet parallel, hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold the ball in both hands above your head with elbows slightly bent.
B. (Shown) Raise your left knee to hip height, keeping the thigh parallel to the floor as you lower the ball to touch your left knee. Keep your back straight and your chest lifted.
C. Return to starting position, and do the same move with your right leg. Do 12 repetitions.
Tone your body from head to toe
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