With Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting) soon coming to the end, many may have found that they’ve gained weight, not to mention broken down essential muscle tissue also.
Undoubtedly there will be a sudden rush to get back to the gym or back doing some form of activity to help tone up and burn the fat.
The seven exercises I have listed below are corrective and less conventional but in my opinion (tried & tested of course) they are the exercises that will best help you achieve a toned, healthy body.
What are Corrective Exercise and Movement Patterns?
The lunge, squat, twists, bending, pulling, pushing and walking, jogging or sprinting are all primal pattern movements.
They are the seven key movements that were necessary for survival of our Palaeolithic ancestors. If they couldn’t perform any of these patterns quickly and effectively without thinking about what their bodies were doing, then they would have had a very slim chance of survival.
Despite the many lifestyle differences between us and our ancestors, we still perform these key movements in our daily tasks. A lot of us play sports that require us to move in multi directional patterns. We squat, lunge, bend, push, pull, twist and run. And so, if our muscles are tight and imbalanced when performing these movements, we’re likely to suffer from pain the next day.
1. The Push Pattern
Pushing would have been a key pattern in moving heavy objects to build shelter or to clear land. For example: If you're pushing a loaded trolley in the supermarket that suddenly stops, your pushing and stabilizing (core) muscles need to be coordinated, or, you are likely to injure your back.
Exercise: The Wall Push-Up
• Stand about two feet away from a wall.
• Place your hands on the wall about chest width apart from your shoulder level.
• Inhale and then exhale drawing your belly button in, keep your body straight and drop your weight towards the wall.
• Push into the wall to return to the starting position, again keeping your body in perfect alignment.
2. The Squat
Early man had to squat to move heavy objects, build shelter and eat. Today, we still have to squat to sit on the toilet or a chair and get in and out of our cars.
Exercise: The Wall Squat
Place a Fit Ball between your lower back and a flat wall.
Take a comfortable stance with your arms at your sides. You should be standing up straight not leaning back onto the ball.
Inhale and then lower yourself down into a squat as you exhale.
Go as low as you comfortably can and inhale as you return to standing.
Perform 10-15 reps a pace your naturally breathe.
Breathe through your nose if you can. If you need to exhale through your mouth, purse your lips together keep a little tension in them.
3. The Bend
In order to build shelter, prepare food and lift objects, early man would have used a bend pattern. Today, the bend pattern is most often used by construction workers, nurses, parents (picking up their kids) or golfers. Like all Primal Pattern Movements, bending is still required in our daily activities, and, if you can't do it correctly, your chances of injury will spiral.
Exercise: The Seated Bend Pull
The most common source of back injuries today is a movement that combines twisting and bending.Vahdaneh Vahid
Sit on a Fit Ball and hold a cable machine pulley handle out in front of you.
Exhale and bend forward keeping a natural curve in your lower back. Do NOT allow your back to round as you bend forward.
As you inhale return to the starting position and bring your arms up towards your chest in a rowing motion. Do not shrug your shoulders.
4. The Lunge
Llunging was an essential Primal Pattern for traversing rough terrain. Today, you can see the lunge pattern used in most sports and even in the work place. While throwing, an athlete's malfunction to lunge correctly results in shoulder injuries.
Exercise: The Static Lunge
Begin standing with your feet together
You may hold weights in your hands or a bar across your back to make the exercise more challenging.
Draw your belly button inwards to activate your core muscles
Step forward so that your back thigh and front shin are perpendicular to the floor when your drop down.
Keep a good upright posture and lower your body down so that your knee just touches the floor, then come up. Your ear, shoulder, hip and knee should all be in a line when you reach the end position.
5. The Pull
Our Paleolithic ancestors would have had to pull heavy loads, such as dead animal carcasses they had hunted, to a safe place. With the development of watercraft, rowing was a key movement for some tribes. Today, the pull pattern is used in many sports and daily household activities.
The exercise: One-Arm Knee Cable pull
Kneel down on your knees and face a cable pulley machine that you should adjust to be higher than your shoulder height.
Holding the pulley handle, breathe in as you pull the resistance towards you, away from the machine.
Keep your forearm in exact alignment with the cable throughout the movement. Do not let your elbow drop below or rise above the line of the cable machine. Reach along the cable with your opposite arm which is not holding any resistance.
I call this a gladiator move! Try to imagine that whilst you perform the exercise.
6. The Twist
Twisting in my opinion is the most important of all the Primal Pattern Movements because it's an integral part of most functional activities. Twisting is rarely a pattern in itself but is a catalyst pattern that has great influence on the efficiency of any Primal Pattern. For example, twisting is an essential part of throwing, which was important for hunting and protection. The most common source of back injuries today is a movement that combines twisting and bending. Given that twisting movements of the spine are essential to almost every movement performed in a practical environment, it's safe to say that if you can't twist correctly, you should learn to do it because injury could be prowling!
Exercise: The Bodyweight Twist
Stand in a wide stance, with your toes turned outwards up to 30 degrees.
Hold your arms up in front of you and keep your torso upright as you perform the exercise.
Shift your weight to one side (about 70% of your weight should go to one side and the remaining 30% remain on the other leg).
As you shift your weight turn your torso so that your shoulders face sideways but keep your head and eyes facing forward. Rotate only as far as you can comfortably turn while keeping an upright posture: do not lean forward as you twist.
Return to the start position and repeat the movement to the other side. The motion should be continuous, do not stop in the middle.
These patterns that consist of walking, jogging or sprinting are variations of what is technically called gait. With the hunted animal on his back, early man would have walked back to his habitat through rough terrain. While communicating messages over long distances during times of battle, jogging was often engaged. Sprinting would most likely occur when getting away from the enemy or a wild animal.
I suggest using your Gait pattern whether it’s a walk on the beach, jog in the park or interval sprints (if you’re advanced).
Please bear in mind the exercises I have suggested are for beginners and if you are unsure how to perform these I would strongly recommend the assistance of a functional movement pattern specialist or an exercise coach such as myself to ensure you are performing them correctly and effectively. It will also give you the opportunity to be able to develop your patterns into more dynamic, fun and challenging exercises later on.
Vahdaneh Vahid is a UK-based Personal Trainer who recently moved to Dubai. She has had an interest in fitness from a young age. Her motto is now "Train Don't Drain" and teaches her clients that a balanced understanding of their physical, mental and emotional wellness is key. She can be found on Twitter: @vvfitness