Weight Loss Challenge

Weight Loss Challenge
Everyone, at some point or another in their fitness regimen, hits a weight loss plateau. Your body becomes accustomed to your present exercise program and you need to "shake it up" in terms of intensity level, specific content or both. Don't be at all discouraged when you hit a plateau. It's a sign of growth and progress in that you have met the challenges of your current program and are ready to elevate to the next fitness level.


Trainer Robert Reames and nutritionist J.J. Virgin got the challengers together at Gold's Gym in Hollywood for a "Plateau Busters Workout." They delivered a full body workout using the stability ball (Resist-a-Ball), medicine balls and the resistance bands. The exercises shown not only work the target muscle groups but integrate the entire body into each exercise as well. This type of work requires a great deal of work in terms of stabilization, coordination and balance as to integrate most all of your body into each exercise. Hence, more calories are burned and more muscle is accessed and stimulated. Building muscle raises your metabolism as to burn more calories and fat all of the time.


Here's a look at the challengers' workout, which might help you bust through your plateau as well.

Partner Side Ball Throws


Works: Integration of lower body, core and upper body


Execution: (With a partner) You and your partner stand with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart. You both will be facing front about 8 to 12 feet apart. Holding the medicine ball as you face front, feet firmly planted with your partner to the right of you, rotate to your left side, keeping your knees bent and arms extended, and toss the ball to your partner to the right of you. Stay in this position to receive the pass back. Your partner then catches the ball, then rotates to the right, the same move that you just completed, then tosses the ball back to you. Do this for 10 to 15 repetitions then switch sides.


Key Points: Keep your knees bent. The rotation of the toss and the catch is an integrated motion using your entire body: legs, hips, torso, shoulders and arms. Keep the motion smooth and keep your eye on the medicine ball. This exercise is about the quality of the integrated motion and not how much you can lift. So make sure that you use a med ball that has a resistance level that is comfortable but challenging. Knee Pull-Ins

Works: Glutes, hamstrings, spinal extensors and calves.



Execution:
Begin by facing up with the backs of the feet placed on the stability ball. Lift your hips off of the floor as to bring your feet, knees, hips and trunk in direct line with each other. Maintain this placement throughout the exercise. Your arms are extended directly to the side, even with the shoulder to provide stability for the exercise. O

n motion, simply draw the feet toward the glutes bending the knees to 90 degrees. Return to original position and repeat for 8 to 15 repetitions.


Key Points: Again, maintain the original placement of the hips. For progression to advanced level do this motion on one leg.

Seated Hamstring Stretch on the Ball


Stretches:
Hamstrings, calves and low back.


Execution: Sit nice and tall on the stability ball with one foot planted firmly on the floor and one leg (leg being stretched) fully extended with the back of the heel placed on the floor. On stretch, simply draw the toes of the extended leg to the knee keeping the leg fully extended. Then slowly bring your chest toward the knee. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat to the other side. Repeat 2 to 3 stretches on each side.



Key Points:
Relax and breath into the stretch. Go to a comfortable range of motion. Relieve all tension from the body.

Reach and Roll With the Ball

Stretches: Muscles of the back, trunk and shoulders


Execution: Facing the floor, place both hands on the ball with arms fully extended with knees bent and lower legs on the floor. On stretch, simply rotate from the hips and trunk to the right and hold for 15 seconds then smoothly rotate to the left and hold 15 seconds as well. Repeat 2 to 3 times on each side.



Key Points:
Use the mat for this as well. Stretching should be relaxing. Go to a range of motion that is comfortable for you. Breathe into the stretch as to relieve all tension from the body. Keep your entire body relaxed.

Rolling Pretzel Stretch with Ball


Stretches:
Muscles of the hip and glutes


Execution: Lie on your back face up with one foot placed on the stability ball. The back of the foot is actually placed on the ball and this leg is fully extended. Cross the opposite leg over the leg that is on the ball placing the crossed leg just over the knee of the leg on the ball. On stretch simply bend the straight leg on the ball drawing the foot toward the glutes while simultaneously placing the hand on the bent knee, pushing the knee away from your body as to feel the stretch in the hip/glute area. Hold the stretch 15 seconds and repeat on the other side. Do 2 to 3 stretches on either leg.


Key Points: Again, relax all the muscles of your body as to relieve all tension. Make all motion and placement of each stretch both fluid and smooth. Breathe and relax into the stretch.

Medicine Ball Squats


Works: Integration of lower body, trunk and upper body.



Execution:
Plant your feet firmly, stand nice and tall with your chest high, drawing your navel to your spine and your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Hold the medicine ball directly in front of you. With both hands on the ball, reach up over your head (do not hyper-extend the knee joint) with arms fully extended, then bend your knees as you bring the ball back down to your mid-section. For more progression, bring the ball down closer to the floor on the squat motion (maximum point being so that the ball touches the floor). Repeat for 8 to 15 repetitions.


Key Points: Keep your feet firmly planted, particularly the back half of the feet. Once again, this is an integrated motion using your entire body. The motion should be smooth and you should not exceed a range of motion during the reach or squat phase that is not comfortable for you. Face forward, do not let the head drop and keep your chest high. Wood Chop

Works: Muscles of the trunk and shoulders



Execution:
Sit up nice and tall on the stability ball with your feet firmly planted and your knees directly over your ankles. Begin by holding the medicine ball directly to your side, next to your right hip with arms fully extended. On action, keeping the arms extended, simply bring the ball across your body in a 45 degree angle to where your arms extend over your shoulder. (This motion is the exact opposite of chopping wood.) Th

n bring the arms back across your body to where the ball is at the right hip again. (This the wood chop motion.) Repeat for 8 to 15 repetitions then switch sides.


Key Points: Always sit up nice and tall and face forward. Integrate your trunk, shoulders and arms on the motion. You can do the motion first without a medicine ball. Then, once you are comfortable with the motion, then progress to a ball that is comfortable but challenging for you to use.

Crossing Pull Over

Works: Abdominals, trunk rotators with muscles of the hip, quadriceps and hamstrings providing stabilization.


Execution: Begin facing up with the stability ball at about mid- back level with feet firmly planted slightly further than shoulder- width apart with your knees directly over your ankles. Your upper leg should be parallel to the floor. Your glutes and your foot placement literally form a triangle on the set-up position. Draw your sacrum (base of your spine) in toward the ball and stabilize your hips from this position. Your arms are fully extended over your head. On motion simply bring your arms up and over towards the knee, alternating from side to side while maintaining the set-up position. Make sure that this motion is initiated by the abdominals and not the arms and shoulders. Repeat for an even number of repetitions, 8 to 16 as to work both sides evenly.



Key Points:
There are several degrees of difficulty on this exercise. Entry level would be to lower the glutes closer to the floor on set up and do the exercise with the hands behind the head (or arms across chest to make it even easier). For maximum difficulty, do the exercise with arms fully extended, holding a medicine ball in your hands. Keep the motion smooth and fluid.

Russian Twist

Works: Abdominals, trunk rotators, hip rotators with quadriceps and hamstrings, providing stabilization.



Execution:
Begin facing up on the stability ball with the ball placed comfortably at the shoulder, neck and head level. Your hips should be lifted with the upper leg parallel to the floor with knees directly over the ankles, feet placed slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Your glutes and your foot placement literally form a triangle on the set-up. Your arms are fully extended toward the ceiling, perpendicular to your body. You are looking toward the ceiling with your neck in perfect alignment (not looking down or behind you). On motion,

while keeping your feet firmly planted, rotate your torso directly to the side. Make sure that your eyes follow your arms and that the motion is initiated by the trunk muscles and not the shoulders. Rotate back to original position, then rotate to other side. Work both sides evenly; say 8 to 16 repetitions.


Key Points: Beginners can rotate to a 45-degree angle instead of all the way to the side. Advanced motion would be directly to the side, holding a medicine ball in your hands with arms fully extended. Keep the motion smooth and fluid.

Bridging Band Pull Aparts


Works: Muscles of the upper back and posterior shoulder. The muscles of the torso, hips and lower body are providing stabilization.



Execution:
Begin by facing up on the stability ball with the ball placed at the shoulder, neck and head level as to provide comfort for the neck region. Your feet are firmly planted with the knees directly over the ankles, hips lifted and the u

pper leg parallel to the floor. Again, the glutes and foot placement form the triangle. Hold the band directly above you with arms fully extended, perpendicular to the floor. Keep your elbow joint very rigid and strong throughout the exercise. (Do not hyperextend the elbow joint.) Allow enough space in between your hand placement to provide adequate resistance for the exercise. On motion, simply bring your arms directly to your side to where the elbows and hands are now even with your shoulders. Return to starting position and repeat for 8 to 15 repetitions.


Key Points: Again, arms are fully extended maintaining rigid but not hyperextended elbow joints. Maintain original lower body placement as to work hips and lower extremities as well.

Row over the Ball

Works: Muscles of the back and biceps (and all elbow flexors). The muscles of the trunk and lower body, once again providing stability.



Execution:
(use a mat for this exercise) Place your body over the stability ball at chest to mid-section level. Entry level would be to place the knees on the floor. Advanced would be to keep the knees straight with the front balls of the feet on the floor. (You could lift one foot off of the floor for even more difficulty.) Keep your neck in perfect alignment, facing the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms fully extended. On motion simply draw your elbow back just past your torso bringing your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously bring your shoulder blades together behind you as well. Extend your arms back to original position, releasing the shoulder blades simultaneously as well. Repeat for 8 to 15 repetitions.


Key Points: Keep the motion smooth and fluid. You can work in different planes of motion, accessing the muscles of the back in variety of ways by placing bringing the elbows directly beside you, placing the elbows in line with the shoulders or anywhere in between these two planes of motion.

Chest Press on the Ball

Works: muscles of the chest, shoulders and triceps with trunk muscles, glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings providing stabilization.


Execution: Begin facing up on the stability ball with the ball placed at the shoulder, neck and head level as to provide comfort for the neck region. Your hips are lifted with your upper leg remaining parallel to the floor. Your feet are firmly planted with knees directly over the ankles. Once again, your glutes and foot placement are forming a triangle on the set-up. Keep this position as to work the hip musculature as well. Your arms are fully extended, perpendicular to the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand. On motion, simply bend the elbows to 90 degrees with elbows coming down just slightly past your shoulders and pressing the dumbbells back to original position. (This is simply a chest press exercise using the ball as your bench.) Repeat for 8 to 15 repetitions.



Key Points:
By performing the chest press on the ball, you allow your body the opportunity to work your target muscles (chest, shoulder, triceps) while integrating the rest of your body to provide stabilization. Thus, more work is done and more muscle is accessed on a given exercise.

Seated Overhead Press on the Ball (with one foot rasied)

Works: Shoulders and triceps with muscles of the trunk, hips and legs providing stabilization.


Execution: Sit nice and tall on the ball with feet firmly planted. Your knees are placed directly over the ankles, draw your navel to your spine and keep your chest lifted. You are looking straight ahead. Begin with elbows bent with elbows directly in front of the shoulder. You are holding a dumbbell in each hand. On motion, keeping your elbows in front of you simply extend your arms fully over your head. Lower the dumbbells to original position and repeat. (This is a shoulder press that uses the ball as a bench.) For a challenge, simply do this motion with one foot lifted off of the floor, maintaining perfect posture and spinal alignment. Repeat for 8 to 15 repetitions.


Key Points: Maintain excellent posture and comfortable range of motion for the shoulder joint.