New things in fitness pop up so fast, there is always some new trend in the exercise arena so I continue to research to see what is working out there. I then put it to the test myself for a period of time.
The below strength exercise suggestions from Dr Mark Wiley have been awesome in increasing my muscle mass, and have changed my body shape (particularly lower body). There’s a lot of common sense in this, particularly for caring, supporting & strengthening our bodies, so I suggest you grab yourself a fit ball & trial it for yourself.
FYI: Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach.
One important lesson you can learn is to reduce your exercise time, but improve your strategy. Time you spend “getting in shape” should be quick and intense. All the while, you should include specific skills that will help you with balance, core strength, coordination, and joint strength.
Stability squats give you life-saving leg strength
Leg strength is important for balance. But did you know quadriceps strength could save your life? Studies show quad strength lowers your chance of death from any cause. Squats are one of the best ways to develop lower body strength. However, avoiding strain on the knees is vital, and having proper posture when squatting is the key to avoiding that strain. Using a stability (Swiss) ball for wall squats is a great way to get you started safely while improving leg strength to move on to unsupported squats.
Often people develop strained knees because they don’t squat properly. They don’t squat past 90-degrees or they’re seated most of the day when keeps the knees at a 90-degree angle. Using the stability ball when squatting is a way to actually build your knee strength properly.
You want to avoid a posture where your knees are too far apart and your feet are too far forward. When you squat from this position, too much load (body weight) is placed on the knees. This happens because the knees, in this position, end at 90-degree angle.
Develop proper posture
First, make sure your feet point forward and your toes do not splay out or point in. What you want is for the feet to begin a bit closer to the body and then when you squat the knees will bend forward more. You don’t want too much forward bend, so if you find yourself leaning, simply raise your heels up off the ground to find better position without pressure on the knees. With proper posture and mechanics you are ready to begin doing the stability ball wall squats. Here are three exercise variations to keep things fun and challenging.
Exercise 1 – Dynamic Wall Squats
Place the ball on the wall, stand with feet apart, resting your low back again the ball for support. Slowly bend your knees to lower your body into a squat, such that your knees bend slightly forward as described above. Then slowly and steadily press your feet into the ground to return to the standing position. Repeat this using either reps (say, 4 sets of 12-15 squats) or for a time period (say, 30 seconds continuous squatting).
Exercise 2 – Isometric Wall Squats
You can also squat down and hold in the bent-knee position to develop tensile strength, or isometric strength in the lower body. You can do this at various heights to activate the muscle fibers in the legs at various positions.
Exercise 3 – Combined Exercise
Once you have a handle on the above two wall squat exercises, you can combine them. For example, you can do five dynamic squats, followed by holding an isometric squat for 20 seconds, then either rest and repeat, or continue to more dynamic and isometric squats.
Give these a try and see what can work best for you. Over time you will develop great leg strength and lower body stability. This may be enough for some, while others can then graduate to unsupported squats.
Here’s to a stronger, more beautiful you!!
Judy & the LCA Team.