This February, the world will look on as the opening ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympics commence. As top notch athletes give it their all and compete for the chance of a lifetime, it's practically impossible not to be motivated as we cheer them on. So, channel that feeling, and go for the gold with these Olympian-inspired workout moves that will sculpt your legs, abs, arms and shoulders.
Ask any pro skier about a drop lunge and they'll know what you're talking about. To prepare for steep and unwieldy terrain, every athlete needs to have good balance and flexibility. By integrating drop lunges into your exercise regimen, you will improve your balance and flexibility through increased hip mobility and also reduce the chance of injury to your knees and lower back. It's a movement that is performed in nearly every sport so is very functional and core to any training!
To perform a drop lunge, stand with feet at shoulder width. Step with the right leg behind the left leg and drop into a squat position. You will only lunge as far across with your right leg as your legs and hip mobility will allow. The heels will be off the ground and will force you to come up onto the balls of your feet. Keep your torso tall and your abs engaged while performing the movement. Return to start and repeat on the other side.
Lateral Ski Jumps:
Just like the name sounds, lateral ski jumps are a great way to get you one step closer to the gold. Lateral ski jumps blend heart pumping cardio with a functional leg workout that will get you ready for any terrain or athletic pursuit. By combining explosive movements with leg strengthening activities, this is one move you should not miss!
To perform lateral ski jumps, stand with feet shoulder width apart and have toes facing forward. Bend your arms slightly at the elbow and then hold your elbows near the sides of your body. Have top of head aligned with your spine and focus on a point directly in front of you. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat, hinging forward slightly from the hips while maintaining a straight spine. Engage your core and push off from both feet equally. Jump laterally to the right, landing on both feet with knees bent. Push off again immediately and jump to your left. Pump your arms upward with every lift off and lower them as you land. Continue to repeat for three to five minutes.
Whether you have dreams of pirouetting on the ice or getting big air, you need to have incredible balance. One of our favorite ways to train like an Olympian is to incorporate balance poses like the standing splits into your routine. Standing splits will not only challenge your balance but also help lengthen and tone your legs and help activate your core muscles. To perform standing splits, inhale and bend forward at your hips. Place your hands on the floor just in front you. Keep your knees slightly bent. Shift your weight into your left leg and hold your left calf with your left hand. Keep your right palm on the floor just in front of you. Inhale and lift your right leg up as high as you can on the wall. Keep your leg as straight and active as possible. Hold and repeat on the other side.
Every Olympic sport requires strong abs. For a great twist on getting those abs of steel, try a Russian twist. It not only targets your abdominals but also your obliques and back for an all over core workout. To perform the Russian twist, sit on the ground with your knees bent and heels about a foot from your butt. Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. Whatever you do, don't let your back curve! Place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands one on top of the other. Hands should be level with bottom of rib cage. Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the left. The movement should not be large and mainly comes from the ribs rotations, not your arms swinging. Inhale through center and rotate to the right. Repeat.
Side Plank with Crunch:
Side planks with crunches not only target your abdominals and obliques but also tone your shoulders and back. Plus they help you get ready for your best performance by increasing your balance. To perform a side plank with crunch, lie on your left side with your left hand on the floor beneath your left shoulder; let the inside of your right foot rest on the floor in front of your left foot. Engage your core and then push into your left hand to lift your body so it forms a diagonal line from head to heels. Crunch forward and down, bringing right elbow to left elbow and then return to starting position. Repeat at least 10 times; switch sides and repeat.
Dumbbell Alternating Shoulder Press & Twist:
If you want strong, lean and powerful arms, try dumbbell alternating shoulder press and twist. This movement is great because it provides core strengthening and toning in one! To perform dumbbell alternating shoulder press & twist, stand holding a pair of dumbbells just outside your shoulders, with your elbows bent and palms facing each other. Rotate your torso to the right as you press the dumbbell up in your left hand above your shoulder. Reverse the movement back to the starting position, rotate to your left and then press the dumbbell in your right hand upward. Repeat.
Incline push-ups will strengthen the chest, triceps and shoulders for longer, leaner and meaner arms. This move is great for sculpting arms, working on core strength and increasing stamina. To perform an incline push-up, place your hands on a box, bench, step -- or anything else sturdy and steady above the floor to give yourself a natural lift. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the bench. Pause at the bottom and then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as possible. Repeat at least 10 times. For extra challenge, you can add in a hop after you come back to start each time (like a modified burpee).
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