Super Speedy Spring Shape-Up
Tank top season is just around the corner! Soon, we will be storing our winter clothes and bringing out cute, flowy dresses and short sleeve tops. Here’s one of my favorite yoga and weights combo to get you in top shape in no time at all. The entire workout will only take you 10-12 minutes and it will target every area of your body.
Boat Pose in to Canoe with weights
Start seated with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Grab one weight and place it between your feet, grab another weight and hold it in your hands. Lean back with your upper body (without sinking in to your lower back) as you lift your legs in the air knees bent calves parallel to the floor coming in to Boat Pose. Engage your lower abdominals and press your shoulders down away from your ears. Inhale as you lower your upper and lower body towards the floor until your hovering a few inches off the ground like a Canoe. Exhale, and lift your body back up to Boat Pose. Repeat 12-15 times. Perform 2 or 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Lie on your belly with both legs straight and your arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Holding a weight in each hand, inhale and engage your entire back body as you lift your torso, legs and arms up off the mat. Exhale as you lower back down to starting position. Repeat 10-12 more times. Make sure to keep the tops of the shoulders down away from the ears. Keep your head in line with your spine (don’t overarch your neck) and imagine you are lengthening from head to toes so your body stays long and active. Squeeze an imaginary grapefruit between your shoulders blades to lift the arms up and contract the rear deltoids (great for fighting bra bulge!). If the weights are too challenging, you can do this without any weights or drop them after a certain point. Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
From all fours tuck your toes under and lift your knees up off the floor straightening your legs and coming in to an upside down triangle position. You may need to walk your feet and hands a little further apart once you are in the pose. Make sure to press between the index and thumb of each hand and lift up out of your wrists. Bring as much weight as you can back towards the legs and press your torso back towards your upper thighs without letting your front ribs splay open. Engage your quadriceps muscles and feel the hamstrings, lower back and shoulders opening up. Stay and breathe for 5 to 8 full breaths in and out of the nose.
From Downward-Facing Dog pose roll out to plank pose or start from a plank pose with hands directly beneath shoulders and the body in one straight line. Keeping the abdominals engaged, on an exhalation, lower the body down towards the floor. Pull the elbows straight back towards the sides of the waist like a narrow arm triceps push-up. Make sure your shoulders don’t round forward (again squeeze that imaginary grapefruit between the shoulder blades) and keep the entire body active. You can push back up to plank or move in to Upward-Facing Dog pose from here.
From Chaturanga, inhale and press your arms straight to lift your chest as you roll forward over your toes. Keep the body from touching the floor and use your abdominals, legs and arms to carry you forward in to this pose. If you have lower back issues you can keep your feet flexed in Upward-Facing Dog. Spread through your collarbones as you engage your rear deltoids and lat muscles. Press firmly through your thighs and scoop your lower abdominals in and up. Exhale, press back to Downward-Facing Dog or drop your knees and rest in a child’s pose.
Repeat Downward-Dog through Plank/Chaturanga in to Upward-Facing Dog 5 to 8 times.
The first two moves with weights preps the body for the Flow cycle of Downdog, Chaturanga, Updog so you can keep good form with the shoulder blades together and tops of the shoulders down away from the ears and the abs actively engaged the whole time. Do this mini workout whenever you can on it’s own, at the end of a cardio session, or before a longer yoga class. Aim for 3-5 days a week and keep it up throughout the spring, and come summer you’ll be psyched to wear your swimsuit!
Stand with your feet together and both weights in your left hand. With your right hand reach down and grab your right foot and place it high on your upper inner left thigh. Once you feel balanced, transfer one of the weights to your right hand. Extend your left arm up above you arm bent overhead as if you’re scratching your back so the weight is between your shoulder blades. Extend your right arm straight down to the floor in front of your right knee. On an exhalation, press your left arm straight up to the ceiling (using the left triceps muscles) as you curl your right hand to your right shoulder with your right biceps muscle. Inhale return to starting position. Continue for 10-12 more reps and then switch sides. Repeat 1 to 2 more times on each side. Works the entire body, your balance and your mind, which will have to fully concentrate to do everything at once!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!