You have made it! you have completed 3 weeks of challenges, each more intensive than the other and you have toned your body!
We aren’t going to stop now, are we? According to what I’m reading in the blog comments and our social media, I can see that you are really enjoying this challenge, I’ve even had requests for a 5th week! (Not to mention several copycats challenges spotted on Facebook) :). So, let’s keep going. This week we will learn to stretch properly. It is a fact, we never stretch enough! Fitness trainers are unanimous: we are meant to stretch for 25% of the time we have spent working out. But, as this does not produce obvious results, we tend to let that side of our training slip, wrongly thinking that stretching won’t help us get slimmer. Admittedly, it won’t make us lose weight but it will elongate our muscles, help us achieve a slender figure and more importantly reduce, and sometimes even rid us of back pain.
Therefore, this week, we will keep going with the previous weeks’ 15 min challenge yes, yes, it is possible! You have done it already, haven’t you? I know it wasn’t easy at the start but, I have also read in your comments how, little by little, you have mastered this magic quarter of an hour!
So now, let’s add 10 minutes stretching, any time you like! After working out is best, but if you aren’t sure how your day will pan out, stretch first thing in the morning and you are set!
With our love of high heels coupled with fitness training, calves are put under much strain and are in great need for a good stretch! Maintain the balancing position on tiptoes for 5 seconds, release, stretch in a lunge making sure the heel is kept flat on the ground for 10 seconds. Repeat the contraction, release and stretch for the other leg. Be aware to keep your toes aligned and increase the distance between your legs to intensify the stretch.
These are the muscles on the front of your thighs. Stair climbing, step classes, running… and our quads need a good stretch to become nice long muscles.
Here is a very easy exercise: lie on your side, the lower leg bent forward at a 90° angle at the hip and the knee. Bend the upper leg at the knee and catch the foot behind you with your hand, maintaining the thigh aligned with the body. During the 5 sec contraction the upper knee pushes forwards and the hand on the foot keeps it from doing so. For the 10 second stretch the hand pulls the knee backwards until you feel a stretch in the thigh. Repeat on the other side. Be aware to keep your hips square and tilted forward the whole time to avoid arching your back.
Calf and hamstring stretch
Hold the bridge position on your toes with your arms along your body for 5 seconds, release, bring both legs towards you and stretch one leg upwards leading with the heel, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the bridge for 5 seconds and stretch up the other leg the same way for 10 seconds.
You can intensify the stretch by using our hands to pull your leg towards you.
Shoulder and back stretch
Get on your knees, hands on the swissball and find your balance leaning forwards, make sure you keep your core strong to avoid arching your back. Hold your arms straight, push the palms of your hands into the ball for 5 seconds, release and stretch out for 10 seconds by sitting on your heels without moving your hands.
Triceps, shoulders and pecs
Get in a plank and bend your elbows slightly for 5 seconds, release, sit on your heels or stand up if you have bad knees and stretch out for 10 seconds by extending your arms behind you hands clasped together.
I have kept my favorite for the end ! The psoas is indeed a muscle that is not much talked about but is constantly used: when we walk, run, climb stairs, etc. This rarely stretched muscle is the cause of the vast majority of back aches (do ask my dear mama who always arrives saying “my doctor told me to rest, I have a really bad back…” I lie her down on my yoga mat and off we go for a psoas stretch and the back pain vanishes like by magic after just one or two days at the rate of 3 stretches a day).
Go into a long lunge with both feet pointing towards the front. Be careful to keep your front foot right under the knee and not in front. Back heel off the ground, hips square. Then, lower the back knee down without resting it on the ground. Once in position, raise the hand that’s the same side as the back leg, keep your arm straight, palm facing the front, stretch as high as possible. Hold 10 seconds and change leg.
3 minutes stretch
The method we are using in this series is one that can be applied to every muscle group. It consists in initially contracting muscles for 5 seconds to subsequently stretch them out for 10 seconds.
Abductors stretch: 1. Sit up with your knees bent, soles of your feet together, back straight. clasp your hands and rest your elbows on your knees (keep your shoulders down). Push your elbows down into your knees and your knees up into your elbows. Hold that contraction for 5 seconds, release. 2. Place your hands behind your back, shift your bottom towards your feet and aim your knees toward the floor to stretch out your abductors, hold for 10 seconds.
Glute stretch: 1. Go onto all fours resting on your elbows. Knees are under the hips, elbows under the shoulders and hands flat on the ground. Back is straight (no arching). Lift your foot knee bent, foot flexed and point upwards, hold for 5 seconds, release. 2. return the knee to the ground and slide your other leg backwards all the way to the ground. Shuffle the heel of the bent leg towards the opposite groin, aim your buttock for the ground and lean forwards, forehead towards the ground, arms stretch out in front of you for 10 seconds. Come back up and do the same thing on the other side.
Now you are good to go! You already know how to tone your abs, your buttocks, your legs, your shoulders, your arms and your back AND now you also know how to stretch them all out. All this in 25 minutes flat if you do everything. I understand that some days it might be difficult, but promise yourself to do a very minimum of 2 areas a day!
This is the last week of the challenge but you can count on me for some more fitness tips and tricks very soon.
And of course, do not slacken your efforts in sharing this challenge with others (on Facebook, @valerieorsoni on instagram and @lebootcamp on Twitter) ! We have inspired a lot of copycats, so let’s get the most attention right here where it all started!
Till then I send you my best wishes from Santa fe where I have just hosted a fantastic BootMeeting® 🙂