December exercise article
Kayla Thompson, MS, ACSM-EP
Snuggly sweaters, cozy fires, twinkling lights, hot cocoa, and holiday cheer are booming! That’s right everyone, Christmas time is upon us. A time of joy, hope, and merriment filling the air. I am sure your schedules are about to burst at the seams with events and family gatherings.
Despite all the distractions, I want us to focus on two things this month. Thing one is goal setting. Thing two is a movement to home in on. For those in love with Dr. Seuss, you’re welcome!
Goal setting is important. It is an opportunity to assess where you, and to seek a better version of you in the year to come. Some of you are grumbling, and I can appreciate that. I used to be the world’s worst at goal setting. Think of it this way: you are challenging yourself to be better—and I love a good challenge!
First, take some time to write out your goals for the coming year. Note: it’s important to actually write them down! Next, figure out how many goals to set; it doesn’t have to be a lot. It can be one, three, or as many as you wish. I gave it a conscious try two years ago and have come to appreciate and value goals.
These goals can focus on fitness, such as walking three times a week or making a healthy recipe each month; or they can be something else like reading a certain number of books this year. Also, consider setting relationship or family goals such as taking time to connect with people you haven’t talked to in a while. Get creative! It matters! If it didn’t, people wouldn’t talk about New Year’s resolutions so much.
Now on to thing two: the shoulder press.
The shoulder press works the upper body and targets your chest, the back portion of your arm, shoulders, and upper back. I know everyone is on the edge of their sleigh with excitement about our new movement. Hold your reindeer! We are still incorporating resistance bands into our routines.
Ideally, you want to use tube bands which come with attached handles for this movement. If you do not have tube bands, it’s OK. You can use therapy bands or long loop bands too.
Place the middle portion of the band under both feet while standing with them shoulder width apart.
Hold the handles in both hands and bring them to your shoulders with your palms facing out.
Push your hands toward the ceiling until your arms are almost straight — remember to keep your wrist flexed during the movement. Try pretending you are going to punch the ceiling; this will keep your wrist in a safe position during the movement.
When you reach up, you want to maintain a slight bend in the elbow at the finish point. Locking your elbow can put unwanted stress on the joint.
After reaching the top, slowly lower your hands back to the starting position. The key word here is slowly! Control on the way down allows you to get the full benefit of this movement by working those muscles against the resistance band.
Starting position, punch the ceiling, control it down, and repeat!
If you are using a therapy band for this exercise, it may be helpful to tie knots on each end of the band. This will give you something to grip. If the resistance is too difficult, try a different band strength or attaching it to a secure object that is more elevated than the floor. I repeat, a secure object! You don’t want to set it on something that will fly up and injure you. Be mindful of this when choosing an object. If you want to amp this movement up a bit, try balancing on one leg while performing the shoulder press. This will bring the core into it to the game more and work out your brain! Keep reading to see how the shoulder press can fit into a workout.
Perform 3 to 4 sets of the following:
Plank: hold for as long as you can (maintain good form).
10 lateral step downs on each leg (try one to two inches, increase height to challenging, but with good form).
10 side-steps with a band (remember to switch lead legs)
10-15 bicep curls (use a challenging weight or resistance band).
10 shoulder presses (use a challenging resistance band weight, punch the ceiling).
30 to 60 seconds of squats (use a challenging weight or stick with no weight, use good form).
After the sets, have a 5-minute dance party.
Finish the entire workout with a 10- to 20-minute walk to cool down and let your heart rate return to a normal level.
I hope you enjoy the shoulder press. Remember to log your progress so you can see how far you have come. Don’t forget to set some goals and get after them! Listen to your body and most important, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Kayla Thompson, MS, ACSM-EP. If you have any questions, reach out to me at email@example.com.