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Working on your fitness: Summer exercises and tips

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Tutorial_Rotating_Burpee (1)

Multimedia Editor Mariah Woelfel demonstrates rotating burpees.

We had a brutal winter here in Chicago and I’m sure many of us spent it cuddled up in blankets and sweatpants drinking hot chocolate and avoiding any intense physical activity. However, now that summer is approaching let’s put away the extra clothing and get active again. These six efficient full-body exercises come from the expertise of Chicago fitness trainers at Fit Body Boot Camp in Lincoln Park, and are suggested to be completed at least three times a week for optimum results.   Whether you prefer working out at home, in private or outdoors at the park with a yoga mat, these exercises can be done almost anywhere. All you will need is some fun new workout gear, a water bottle and lots of motivation.

Donkey Kicks

  • The Focus: This exercise targets your glutes and hamstrings as well as engaging your core and back.
  • Instructions: start on your elbows and knees with your elbows directly under your shoulders in an adjusted tabletop position. Lift your right left while keeping your knee bent and flexing your heel towards the sky. For better balance, extend your opposite arm out to the side. Keep it there throughout the exercise. Bring your leg back down and bring it as far towards your chest for a stretch. Do three reps of 20 then switch to your left leg and balance with your right arm. Ankle weights can be added for a challenge.

Opposite Reach

  • The Focus: Mainly working on your core, this exercise is also a great way to gain balance.
  • Instructions: start in tabletop position on hands and toes with hands directly under shoulders. Simultaneously reach your left arm out in front of you while lifting and reaching your right leg behind you. Go back to starting position and switch to using your right arm and left leg. Continue to switch between opposite legs and arms. Repeat this exercise for 30 seconds, rest for five, and then repeat for another 30 seconds. It is recommended to do this exercise four times for 30 seconds.

Spider-Man Plank

  • The Focus: Also another ab exercise, the Spider-Man Plank, combines gluteal and leg engagement with an arms and back workout.
  • Instructions: Begin in plank position on elbows and toes. Make sure your back is flat and abdominals are tense. Bring one knee up at a time, reach it towards your elbow and go back to standard position. Switch between legs making sure to keep your hips square and in a slow motion. This exercise is much more effective than the standard crunch, which can easily injure your lower back when over-doing it. Do this exercise for a minimum of one-two minutes.
  • Expertise: “Planks are much better for back support than crunches,” Kyle Blust, a certified trainer and instructor, said. “Crunches can cause lower back problems if done excessively. Planks will increase stability, strengthen your core, and engage arms, back, legs, and glutes.”

[box]Need a workout soundtrack? Check out our DeJamz playlist. [/box]

Squat & Kick

  • The Focus: Squats are all about strengthening the legs and glutes, while adding the kick in between also engages your core and boosts your cardio.
  • Instructions: Stand with your feet slightly wider apart than your hips. Position your feet slightly turned out. Bend your arms holding your hands together underneath your chin. Without your knees going past your toes, squat down as if you are about to sit in a chair. Don’t forget to keep your chest up. As you stand up, kick one leg out to the side balancing on your other leg. Return to squat position and repeat with other leg. Do three reps of 30 squats.
  • Expertise: “Be sure you lift up through your heels, with minimal weight on your knees,” Clarence Moore, a fitness instructor and certified trainer, said. “This can be measured by making sure your knees do not extend past your toes when bending them. Sink deep into your heels, keep your chest forward and push up through your heels with strength.”

Rotating Burpee

  • The Focus: This exercise is a full body workout from head to toe, but you can expect to feel it mostly in your upper body — arms, shoulders, chest and core.
  • Instructions: Standing with fit about hip width apart, squat down and reach your hands to the floor. Jump your legs back so you are in plank position. Immediately jump your legs back up near your hands. Stand up and jump 180 degrees. Continue this exercise, jumping in between each burpee. Do this exercise for three-four minutes.

Brazilian Leg Lift

  • The Focus: The Brazilian Leg Lift is a combination that is all about the abdominals. While there is significant leg engagement, your abdominals are going to be burning with this exercise.
  • Instructions: Lay on your back with knees bent. Do four crunches and then stay up. Reach your legs and arms up in the air, hold for three seconds. Slowly lower your legs until they are about one foot off of the floor. Open your legs wide and cross them. Repeat opening and crossing your legs one over another for 8 reps, then rest. Repeat the entire exercise from step one seven to ten times.
  • Expertise: Blust finds core strengthening crucial, and if you’re able to engage other muscles at the same time, the better. “Be sure to keep your entire body tense during this exercise,” he said. “Keep the movements controlled, even if that means going through them slower … You will get much better results with proper form.”

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Working on your fitness: Summer exercises and tips