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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Monthly fitness tip:Two simple, challenging exercises.

By Kolleen Riddick

What if I told you that you could get a total body workout by doing just two exercises: variable squats and push-ups?

With all the fancy weight-training equipment out there it is easy for us to overlook the "equipment" that each of us already has built in -- our own body weight.

If you have ever attended one of my fitness boot camps or one-on-one sessions, you know that on occasion I throw out all the equipment and focus on sculpting the body with nothing but squats and push-ups. And it never fails to leave my clients grimacing.

By doing these two exercises, you can target your entire body. So what's the trick? The trick comes simply by placing your feet and hands in a variety of positions, which results in the recruitment of many other muscles in the body.

Let's start by talking about squats. Squats are a functional compound exercise, meaning they recruit several muscle groups all at once. They are the No.1 exercise for toning and tightening your butt, hips, quadriceps, stomach, lower and middle back, calves, hamstrings and shoulders. They are the crème de la crème of body sculpting exercises.

Now, how about push-ups? Push-ups are another killer exercise that can be severely underestimated. Early in my fitness career, I only used push-ups to sculpt the chest and triceps. However, they can be used for so much more. When performed properly, push-ups can engage every muscle from your toes to your neck. They are great for working the chest, triceps, core, legs and hips. If squats are the crème de la crème, then push-ups are the cherry on top.

Let's learn how to do them properly:

Squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, shoulders back, chin neutral, and toes facing straight ahead or angled slightly outward. Slowly bend your knees and lower your hips towards the floor, keeping your torso straight and abs pulled in tight. Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up.

Push-up: Position yourself face down on the floor, balancing on your toes and hands (or if this is too difficult, drop to your knees). Your hands should be slightly wider than your shoulders, body in a straight line from head to toe (or knees). Engage your core by drawing your navel to your spine. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body to the floor, stopping when your elbows are at 90 degrees. Exhale and push back up. Try not to let your booty stick up.

If you'd like to learn more tips like these, join us for the next Milton Fitness Camp on April 11.

Riddick, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, is founder of Milton-based CorePhysique and instructs Milton's fitness camps through a partnership with the City of Milton.

Click here to learn more about the city's fitness camps.

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