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3. Back Bridge Begin on all fours, with arms directly under your shoulders, knees under hips. Contract abdominal muscles and extend right leg behind you, at hip height, keeping your hips square [A]. Maintaining your balance and keeping abdominals tight, extend left arm in front of you to shoulder height [B]. Hold for at least 5 seconds. Make sure you use your abdominal muscles to maintain your back position. Lower arm, then leg, to starting position and repeat sequence with left leg and right arm. Gradually work up to 5–8 repetitions on each side.
Once you can perform this exercise with ease, do the same leg and arm movements lying face down on the floor. Be sure to tighten your buttocks before elevating legs to avoid arching back. Strengthens abdominals, upper and lower back muscles, buttocks and back of thighs.
4. Preliminary Push-ups Begin on all fours, with arms directly under your shoulders, fingers pointing forward, knees under hips. Contract abdominal muscles and keep your torso straight and head directly in line with spine [A]. Slowly bend elbows and lower chest toward the floor without arching your back or dropping your head [B]. Return to starting position and repeat. Start with one set of 8–12 repetitions; work up to two sets of 12. Once you can perform this exercise with ease, move knees back behind hips so body is more extended, but avoid placing your body weight directly on kneecaps. Strengthens chest, front of shoulders and triceps muscles.
5. Posture Perfect Kneel on the ground, then lean forward and rest forehead on a large rolled-up towel or small, firm pillow on the floor, so head is in line with spine. Relax your arms next to your legs with palms facing up [A]. Squeeze shoulder blades together to lift arms up slightly behind you [B]. Hold for 2–3 seconds, then return to starting position. Start with one set of 8–12 repetitions; work up to 2 sets of 12. Once you can perform 12 repetitions with ease, add 1/2- to 2-pound weights in each hand. Strengthens upper back muscles and back of shoulders.
6. Abdominal Contractions Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on floor, arms resting at sides. Contract abdominal muscles inward toward spine so lower back is in contact with floor and there’s no space between your spine and the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, breathing normally, and relax to starting position. Begin with one set of 8–12 reps; when you can do 12, do 2 sets of 8 reps, and gradually progress to 2 sets of 15 reps.