You are here

Topics View

Windshield Wiper

Lying faceup, swipe your legs together left and right in a 180-degree arc. The glitch is that women tend to recruit their legs and hip flexors to do this exercise. "When you release your grip on those wrong muscles to engage the right ones—in this case your core— you can access your full range of mobility and strength, and suddenly this movement becomes so much more accessible and effective for shaping your body," Widerstrom says. (Master it, then tackle this 10-move oblique workout to test your strength.)

1. Teach your body to move, brake, and change directions fluidly with a barbell twist. Stand with feet together, with an empty barbell (or a broomstick) racked on your back across your shoulder blades, lightly gripping the bar with an overhand grip, elbows bent downward. Keep the torso long and hips square, then rotate torso toward right until you have no further range of motion toward your right side. Switch sides; repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps, alternating sides.

2. Move your legs as one—but without as much weight—with bent-leg wipers. Lie faceup on floor with arms extended out to sides and knees bent over hips. Keeping legs together at 90 degrees, drop knees toward left, letting your right hip come off the floor, to hover 1 inch above floor. Lift knees to start, then lower them toward right. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps, alternating sides.

3. Do single-leg wipers to learn how to control the movement in its full range. Lie faceup on floor with arms extended out to sides, right leg extended upward and bent left knee over hips. Keeping knees together, drop legs toward left to hover 1 inch above floor, letting your right hip leave the ground. Lift your legs back the way they came, then lower them toward right. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps, alternating sides.

The Perfect Windshield Wiper: Lie faceup on floor with arms extended out to sides and legs extended over hips. With ribs pressing into floor and legs together, drop legs toward left as your right hip lifts off the floor, to hover 1 inch above floor. Trace your legs back to start, then lower them toward the right. "As your legs reach away from your core, your body becomes very tight in order to keep you stable and connected to the floor," Widerstrom says. "Then when your legs come back to center, you feel a brief release of tension."

Photo: Rony Shram

Handstand

It's you against gravity, balancing your body weight on the palms of your hands. The good news is that everyone has the strength to do this, Widerstrom says. It's the skill behind it that takes the most time to master: "You have to practice handstands—a lot—to get good at them," she says. A big part of that practice is in your head, learning to be OK with the idea of being upside down. "But when you conquer this exercise," she says, "you'll change your whole outlook on what seems challenging to you, asking yourself, What else am I capable of?" This is where you start. (Also try: this yoga flow that will prime your body for nailing a handstand.)

1. Get comfortable being inverted and learn how to place your hands by starting with a 90-degree hip stand with shoulder taps. Stand facing away from a sturdy box or bench. Fold forward to plant hands on the floor, and step feet up and onto the box so your body forms an upside-down L shape. Then shift weight into left hand and tap right hand to left shoulder. Switch sides; repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps, alternating sides.

2. Do wall walks to start to straighten out your handstand while still being supported. Start on floor in plank position with feet pressing into a wall. Slowly walk hands toward wall in 3-inch steps, walking feet up wall as high as you are comfortable (the goal is to bring your body to fully touch the wall). Reverse the movement to get back down. Do 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 6 reps.

3. Learn how to kick up with support by doing handstands against a wall. Stand facing a wall, 2 to 3 feet away from it. Quickly fold from hips to plant hands on floor in front of wall, kicking your legs up one at a time until they rest on the wall. Hold that position as long as you can, letting your heels come off the wall a few moments at a time so you're not completely reliant on it. Then reverse the movement to get back down. Do 2 to 3 sets of 25- to 45-second holds.

The Perfect Handstand: Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms extended over- head. Find a point on the floor about 3 feet in front of you. Fold forward, reaching hands toward that point, kicking your left leg up (for your first couple of times, begin with less of a push than you know it would take to get you all the way up, so you can develop an under- standing of what kind of power it takes to get you there). Then immediately follow with right leg, letting legs hover above hips, which are stacked over shoulders, which are stacked over wrists: "Imagine your body is a building where all those major joint intersections are a separate floor but still perfectly stacked to create a balanced unit," Widerstrom says. Hold as long as you can, then lower one leg at a time to safely return to standing.


Photo: Rony Shram

L Sit

Sit on the floor with your legs long and palms flat by thighs, then elevate your body by pressing into your palms."It's deceptively tough for such a small movement, but it's the best static hold you can do for your core because you have to pull your abs in so deeply and wrap your core up so tightly to lift your body," Widerstorm says. "There's no way around it." Your shoulders and glutes also get a solid dose of sculpting, since they hoist you up and keep you there. Here are three steps that will help you nail it.

1. Make it halfway easier by starting with a single-leg L sit. Sit on the floor with legs together and extended, feet-flexed, and hands on floor outside of your thighs, fingertips 2 to 3 inches behind your knees, thumbs under thighs, and wrists touching the outside of your legs. With your fingers spread, press your palms into the floor, hollow your core, and straighten arms to lift your butt and right leg. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 times. Switch legs, and repeat.

2. Separate legs wide for a straddle hold to make them lighter and easier to lift while still accessing the same muscle groups. Sit on the floor with legs wide feet flexed, and hands pressing into floor between thighs and about a foot apart. Press your palms into the floor, hollow your core, and straighten arms to lift your butt and legs, but leave your heels gently on the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 times. (Skip the sit-ups; planks are a better way to engage your core.)

3. Create more space than the floor allows to get more muscles involved in the lift by doing an L sit on 2 boxes or benches (or paralette bars!). Place the sturdy boxes or benches slightly wider than hip-width apart, and stand between them with legs together. Plant one hand on each box, hollow your core, and straighten your arms to lift your legs as high as you can. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 times.

The Perfect L Sit: Sit on the floor with your legs long and together, feet flexed, hands on floor outside of your thighs, fingertips 2 to 3 inches behind your knees, thumbs under your upper thighs, and wrists touching the outside of your legs (any farther back and you won't be able to get off the floor). Exhale, keep your shoulders wide, press your palms into the floor, hollow your core, and squeeze your legs together, then straighten arms to lift your butt and then your legs and heels about 1⁄4 inch off the floor. Hold as long as you can. "When you exhale to lift, do it as if you're blowing out a candle, which allows you to wrap a corset around your waist that pulls every muscle together into a tightly knit package,"

Photo: Rony Shram

Smash Your Strength Goals In Easy Steps

In her time as a top trainer which includes whipping contestants (and couch sitters) into shape for NBC's The Biggest Loser for the past two years, Jen Widerstrom has identified a short list of mega-exercises that trainer, pave the way to a superfit body. They are no-equipment classics but also the ones she witnessed many women struggle to nail with textbook form. Aim to conquer this mix of strengtheners, Widerstrom says, "and you'll feel empowered like never before." That's because challenging moves like these sculpt a head-to-toe chain of muscles and build your athleticism and physical skills for a big shot of body confidence. (Seriously—getting strong will make you look and feel sexy AF.)

To make sure you ace all six, Widerstrom breaks down the basics of each exercise. Pump up your muscle capacity before each set with this game-changing bit of mental prep: Visualize yourself doing the exercise that you're about to attempt, and you'll feel a boost in your strength by up to 24 percent—without working a single muscle, according to a study in the North American Journal of Psychology. It's possible that such imagery lights up your brain in a way that activates areas involved with motor skills. "Trust the reality that your body is incredibly powerful," Widerstrom says. "And really go for it." You've got this. And you're about to get the body to prove it.

Photo: Rony Shram

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus (HSV), is generally categorized into two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is usually spread from oral-to-oral contact (roughly 67 percent of the world's population has it), while HSV-2 is more often a result of sexual contact—although either subtype can result for either source. Once infected it is a lifelong sentence, although there are periods of exacerbation and remissions (sometimes with many, many, many years in between). Transmission can happen even when there is no active lesion, a circumstance known as asymptomatic viral shedding.

How to ID: HSV is known to many as a typical cold sore. A tingling or burning sensation may precede the outbreak. Inevitably if left untreated, painful, clustered blisters that sit on a pink or red inflamed base occur. In the genital area, one may notice lymph nodes or even pain with urination in addition to the sores. In severe cases, flu-like symptoms can complicate the picture.

How to treat: An oral antiviral medication and safe sex to prevent further spread.

Photo: Shutterstock