In this third session, we focus on the back body. As a bride, it is incredibly important to remember that your back will be ‘on show’ for much of the ceremony. Depending on the kind of dress or outfit you are wearing, you will be admired from the back throughout the festivities, not to mention many of the photos from the big day.
From a physical perspective, working and strengthening your back body will improve your posture and allow you to open up the chest and heart centre…..so let’s let the love in and start working the back body together.
Starting with the feet parallel and hip-socket width apart, ensure you have a slight bend at the knees and a tall posture gently drawing the abdominals in and up. Bring the arms out to a goal post shape and inhale deeply. As you exhale, draw the forearms together and drop the chin to the chest as you curve the upper spine.
Top tip: Focus on drawing the shoulders down and the collar bones wide when you move to the goal post shape.
Start to make this more dynamic with a bigger range of motion – As you inhale, open the arms to a wide goal post position lifting the chest and gaze on a high diagonal (option to add a tiny back bend) and then bend the knees into a deep squat as you draw the forearms together and round the head and spine into a ‘C’ Curve. This is designed to really start moving the spine and activating the core and thighs.
Top Tip: Make sure whenever you squat that the knees are over your middle toes. This will keep those knee joints working safely!
From the previous squat position, walk the hands out to a full plank. Establish a strong, long line from the crown of the head through to the heels. From the plank, move to a downward dog and hold for a count, then move back to the plank position. Make sure abdominals and ribs are actively pulling in and up and that the shoulders are sliding down the back.
You have the option to add a further challenge by taking the opposite hand to shin or ankle as you push back to downdog. Make sure you alternate arms and ensure the hips and shoulders stay square. Repeat 10-15 times. This is going to really build some heat in the shoulders!
Kneel down with the knees two fists distance apart and extend through the hips to lift the torso upright. Send the arms wide into the goal post position. Hinge back from the knees in a strong diagonal line until you feel it’s a challenging angle for your seat and abdominals. If your body trembles then you know it’s the correct position!
Maintaining the hinge position, move the forearms together and apart keeping the elbows at shoulder height. You will feel some work in the arms and shoulders even without weights! Aim for 8 forearm squeezes, then return to starting position. You could do 3-4 sets of 8 squeezes.
Top Tip: Imagine you have heavy weights or that you are moving the arms in water to create a sense of resistance. This will really increase the sensation and results!
Place forearms on the mat, making the number ‘11’ shape with your arms and extend legs long, floating the knees off the floor. Again, focus on creating one long line from the head to heels with a strong lift in the abs.
Add in some chest dips and lifts between the shoulder blades without losing the plank position. This will strengthen and tone all the muscles around the shoulder blades and give you that gorgeous ‘V’ of muscle down the back.
Aiming to transition from the forearm plank without resting the knees down, rotate the right hand towards the centre of the mat and shift onto the sides of the feet coming into a side plank. Stack the hips and make sure the ribs draw together and the abdominals are active. Place the top hand behind the head and actively push the head back against the hand to activate the back body.
Top Tip: For more of a core challenge you can stack the feet which gives you a smaller base of support.
Whilst keeping the hand behind the head, wrap the elbow towards the bottom hand and then open back to the starting position. Aim to keep the hips still and the plank as lifted as possible so you feel the underside of your waistline working!
Do 8-10 reps then aim to transition to the second side without resting the knees down to the mat.
After completing both sides come back to centre and slowly lower down to lay on your front.
Lay on your front resting your forehead on the mat with the arms in a wide goal post position and legs extended as wide as the mat. Imagine you have an ice-cube under your navel and try to maintain that sense of lift in the abs throughout the sequence.
Keeping the legs on the floor and arms in a goal post position, lift the head and heart just a few inches off the mat and then lengthen to lower down with control. Repeat this slow lift and lower for at least 5 reps.
Challenge option: Add a lift in the torso and legs at the same time. Think of them reaching away from your center.
Lift and hold the torso off the mat as you extend the arms to a high ‘V’ overhead and then pull the elbows back towards the hips keeping the arms off the floor.
The legs can lift again for challenge but if you have a sensitive lower back I recommend keeping them grounded. Aim for 8-10 dynamic elbow pulls and extensions.
Rest back to a child pose to release any lower back tension.
Move to a seated position with knees bent, legs together and feet flexed. Rest back onto your forearms and establish a strong curve in the lower back, tucking the pelvis under. When you are ready, bend the forearms and make fists.
Top Tip: The further forward you walk the elbows forward, the more challenging this abdominal set becomes.
Keeping the elbows lightly pressing into the mat and a strong tuck in the lower abdominals, curl the upper body forward, feeling the ribs move towards the hips and deepening a ‘C’ curve in the upper back. Do 10-20 curls starting slowly then a bit quicker, really focus on exhaling as you curl forward to increase the abdominal work.
Maintaining the deep curl forward on the elbows, extend one heel along the mat directly in front of your hip then exhale to pull it back with resistance along the mat curling deeper in the upper body. You can extend the leg ¾ or full extension.
Keep alternating and aim to do 10 in total.
This is a super challenging final variation. Keeping the knees bent and the heels driving into the floor aim to punch one arm and then the other to the ceiling, alternating sides. Try to maintain even shoulders and a deep abdominal scoop.
Expert Challenge: For the ultimate challenge, try lifting both elbows off and punching both hands to the sky. It’s a killer!
Come to all 4’s with the wrists under the shoulders and the knees under the hips.
On the exhalation curve the spine to the sky (like an ‘angry cat’) taking the gaze to your abs and on the inhalation, curve the navel to the floor and send the chest, chin and gaze to a high diagonal.
Top Tip: Feel free to make this ‘your own’ by moving the hips or taking circular motions to ease out any little niggles or tightness in the back body.
Find a comfortable seated or kneeling position with the spine upright. Interlace the fingers behind you and as you exhale consciously, open the chest and extend the arms and knuckles towards the mat behind you. Enjoy this chest opener and give yourself a moment to acknowledge your hard work!
I hope this session leaves you with a new sense of your back body and posture. Remember you can do this session with me on our digital platform: Silver Linings @Home and you can always combine one or more of the sessions in the series if you have the time and energy for a longer workout!
See you on the mat very soon!