Working dual muscles during strength training is a time saver; it gets more done in less time. If you're in a time crunch but looking to get quality exercises in, focus on dual muscle exercises at the gym. Core training is very simple to incorporate into dual muscle exercises; using equipment or motions such as bosu balls, physio-balls, single leg exercises and balancing exercises can all engage the core while you are lifting.
Single Leg Curl and Press
This exercise works your core, biceps and shoulders. It is an excellent way to work on balance and coordination while you tone you upper body. Balancing on one leg allows your lower abdominals to engage, thus working your core and stabilizer muscles. The higher you bring your leg into a 90-degree angle, the more your core muscles will be engaged. Beginners should start with their suspended foot near their ankle; work toward the advanced placement where the knee is suspended in a 90-degree angle, straight out from the hips.
Situp and Chest Press
The more weight you add on the upper body with the chest press, the harder this exercise is. It is very important to keep your arms extended straight, above your head, as you sit up. Focus on bringing your elbows to your ears as you are sitting up. Slowly lower your body to the mat; have control over the downward movement of the situp. This is an excellent way to spice up a regular old situp. This exercise works your chest, shoulders and abdominals.
Single Leg Deadlift With Reverse Fly
This one is tricky! Focus on balance before movement; if you are not balanced, you must squeeze your core and regain balance before you continue to move. Unbalanced single leg deadlifts are not effective or efficient, so be sure your focal point is effective repetitions. Once you reach the bottom of your deadlift, fly your arms out into a reverse fly; if this throws off your balance, squeeze your core and regain balance before you move. This exercise is an excellent challenge for your abdominals and stabilizer muscles. You will be working your hamstrings, glutes, back and core.
Plank and Alternating Rows
Planks are one of the best exercises to engage the entire frame of the core. When you lift one of the four limbs off the ground in the plank position, you make your base unbalanced and the exercise much more difficult. Planks with alternating rows work your abdominal muscles and back muscles all at once. The key to this exercise is to not let your hips to rotate side to side as you alternate the row; many people swing their hips and bob side to side. Allowing your hips to move side to side eliminates the plank's effectiveness. Isolate your hips, and focus on staying flat as a board as you pick your arms up for the row.
Military Press, Burpee and Pushup
If you are looking for something to instantly increase the intensity of your workout, try this one. This incorporates a shoulder press, up-down and pushup all into one; the cardiovascular system, core, shoulders and chest are all worked in this exercise. The quicker the legs are snapped back into the chest to stand back up, the more the core will be engaged. The pushup can be modified to the knees if needed. A modification for the burpee (up-down) is to stair step the legs back one at a time, instead of jumping them back quickly together; this lowers the intensity level of the movement.
- "ACE Personal Trainer Manual"; American Council on Exercise; 2003
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