2017 is now well underway and hopefully you’re getting into the swing of moving more and sitting less. Much like your seat though, it’s important not to rest on your laurels.

When you spend time standing or moving, your body has to work to support itself. The muscles it uses to do this are called the postural musculature.

However, after being in the habit of sitting for long, uninterrupted periods of times, these muscles aren’t used to pulling their weight.

The time for slacking is over. Here are some exercises that are simple to do, at home or in the gym, and are tailored to help you build and maintain strength in these vital muscles.

 

Standing Roll Down

Warming up the spine

  • Stand up tall, with your feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides
  • Slowly roll down through your body: lower your chin to your chest, roll your shoulders forward and gradually lower your chest towards your legs, without bending your knees
  • Try to do this as slowly as possible – you should feel that you are rolling through the upper back first, middle and finally the lower back
  • Looking between your legs and touching the floor if possible, you should feel the stretch along your spine and down the back of your legs
  • Now do the same in reverse – roll back up to gradually align your lower, middle and upper back, shoulders, finally lifting the chin to stand tall again
  • Repeat 10 times

 

Cobra

Building strength in the upper back

  • Lie down on your front, with your arms by your side and hands facing down – you can rest your forehead on a towel if you like
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together (as though you were trying to hold a pencil between them) and lift your arms off the floor
  • As you do this, your chest and head may lift as well – let this happen if it feels natural, but don’t strain your back to achieve this
  • Hold this position for two seconds, then relax and lower back to the floor
  • Repeat 10 times per set, repeating for 3 sets altogether

 

The Dumb Waiter

Building strength in the upper back

  • With a dumbbell in each hand, stand up tall with your feet hip-width apart
  • Hold the dumbbells in front of you with your palms facing up and elbows bent at 90 degrees and tucked close to your sides
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, so that your chest expands and arms open out to your sides
  • You should feel the muscles between your shoulder blades doing the work
  • It is important that you don’t let your lower back arch – keep your back straight and elbows tucked in the whole time
  • Relax the squeeze to return the dumbbells to their starting position
  • Repeat 10 times per set, repeating for 3 sets altogether

 

Glute Bridge

Working out the hips

  • Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Lift your hips off the floor by squeezing your bum muscles up and clenching the bum cheeks together
  • Keep squeezing the bum muscles to lift the hips and lower back as high as you can at the top of the glute bridge
  • You should be pushing evenly through your feet and shoulders, keeping your feet and arms flat on the floor
  • From this position, slowly relax your bum muscles and gradually lower your back and hips back onto the floor
  • Repeat 10 times per set, repeating for 3 sets altogether

 

Calf Raises

Working out the lower leg muscles

  • Stand up tall, with your feet hip-width apart and arms resting by your side
  • Push down through your toes and raise your heels to balance on the ball of your foot
  • Hold this position for 2 seconds and then lower
  • You should feel your calves doing the work – if you have trouble balancing, try using a wall to support you the first few times
  • Repeat 10 times per set, repeating for 3 sets altogether

 

Supine Leg Extensions

Engaging the core

  • Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Create a ‘table top’ position: lift your feet with your knees bent – your shins should be parallel to the floor and your knees hovering directly over your hips
  • Gently squeeze your abdominal muscles so you can feel a little tension in the stomach
  • From this position, slowly extend your left leg away from you – you should feel your lower abdominals doing the work
  • Keep your lower back flush against the floor the whole time – if you feel the lower back taking the strain, push your foot a little higher
  • Slowly bring the left leg back to table top and repeat with the right leg
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions per set (5 on each leg), repeating for 3 sets altogether

 

Kneeling Superman

Engaging the core

  • Kneel with your hands, knees and toes on the floor – your hands should be directly below your shoulders; your knees should be directly below your hips
  • Check your posture: make sure you have a straight back and roll your shoulders back and away from your ears
  • Engage your abdominal muscles by imagining you’re pulling your belly button towards your spine
  • Slowly extend your left leg straight behind you and your right arm out to the side at the same time – you should keep your spine straight, without letting your shoulders or hips lean to one side
  • Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other side (with your right leg and left arm)
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions per set (5 on each leg), repeating for 3 sets altogether

 

Lie Down, Squat Up

Cardio

  • Lie on your front with your hands placed flat either side of your chest
  • Push through your arms to lift your body off the floor and step your feet forward to come under your hips
  • Push through your legs to stand up straight
  • Squat back down and place your hands flat on the floor
  • Step both your feet back to straighten your legs and lower your body to return to the starting position
  • Repeat as many times as you can in one minute for one set, repeating for 3 sets altogether