Aoife O’Neill, Outsider’s consultant Chartered Physiotherapist outlines a simple mobility circuit to get your conditioning off to the perfect start this January.
Winter is the perfect time to get the fundamentals right. Outsider’s Chartered Physiotherapist Aoife O’Neill recommends practising lower to medium intensity endurance exercises and to employ mobility exercises to improve movement patterns all over the body. For any athlete, or aspirational mover, having the mobility basics right means that when it comes to increasing the load later in the year, the foundation is there, and the risk of injury is less. In an ideal world, we would all invest at least two hours a week on strength and conditioning classes but not everyone can make this kind of commitment. So, if you want to keep your mobility and conditioning level high but don’t have a lot of time, this 20-30 minute mobility circuit of exercises, done 2-3 times a week will build your fitness and endurance. And the best thing about them is you can do these exercises at home, in your garden or your local park.
Aoife recommends completing the following exercises three times in a session and repeating 2-3 times a week for approximately 3-4 weeks to get your mobility basics and function right. This circuit is not exhaustive. You could add squats, forward lunges, deadlifts or press ups to yours. This is just a start. You can adjust the intensity through speed, effort or by adding weights to some exercises. We can’t stress enough that even 10 minutes blocks of this kind of work are valuable so start small but do start!
1. Single Leg Dead Lift
For: Hamstrings, glutes, quads and lower back. Use no equipment, dumbbells or a kettlebell appropriate for your level.
- Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent and hold a weight in each hand (optional).
- Start by bending at the hips and extend your free leg behind you.
- Lower your torso until you’re parallel to the floor, keeping your abdominal muscles tight and spine neutral.
- Return to the start position and repeat x 15 reps on one leg before switching to the opposite leg.
2. Rotational Plank
For: Abdominals and back predominantly. Also, good for developing foot and ankle strength.
- Start by getting into a plank position, weight bearing on your forearms, with your feet about hip distance apart.
- Rotate your body backwards into a side plank position and lift your top arm upwards.
- Bring your body back to the initial plank position and repeat the movement to the other side.
- Repeat 10 times each side and avoid letting your hips and core drop to the floor.
3. Walk Outs
For: Hamstring flexibility, back flexibility and abdominal strength.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend over from the top part of your spine down through the middle and lower spine and finally your hips to place your hands on the floor as close to your feet as possible. This is a classic Pilates spinal mobility exercise.
- Shift your weight onto your hands and begin to walk them forwards and outwards until they are beneath your head.
- You can do a push up in this position (optional) and afterwards reverse the walkout by walking your hands back towards your feet feeling the tension in your hamstrings.
- Return to your standing start position by reversing the movement.
- Repeat 8 times.
4. Side Lunges
For: Hip mobility, quads and glutes strength, and lateral movement. Hand dumbbells are optional.
- Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands at your side if you have dumbbells or at your chest if not.
- Staying low with your chest upright, take a lateral large step to your right keeping your toes pointing forwards.
- Shift your weight onto your right leg by flexing the hip and knee and letting your opposite left foot grip the ground and your left knee straighten fully.
- Pause at the bottom momentarily and then extend your right working leg back to your original start position.
- Repeat 10 times to one side before completing 10 to the opposite side.
5. Pilates 100
For: Abdominal and core strength.
- This is a classic Pilates exercise named because you hold this posture for 100 beats or pulses or your arm.
- Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent to 90° and feet up in the air.
- Reach your arms up towards the sky.
- As you reach your arms back down towards the floor lift your head and upper back off the ground so that your shoulder blades are off the ground.
- As you inhale and exhale, pulse your hands to 100 feeling your abdominals working in their flexed position. At a count of 100 slowly lower your feet to the floor one at a time before lowering your head.
For activity-specific strength and conditioning, specific exercise suitability advice, or for treatment of current or old injuries please consult a chartered physiotherapist or appropriate professional. Stay warm this winter by getting moving and have fun!
Aoife O’Neill is an experienced Chartered Physiotherapist with a Masters in Manual Physiotherapy and a Diploma in Psychology. She also is a current international tennis player, ex-triathlete, Pilates teacher, outdoor enthusiast, water lover, and loves sharing her passion for health and lifestyle. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and holds her clinics at Body Med.
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