Your back is made up of multiple layers of muscles that help you to lift, pull and hold your body upright. Your biceps are the muscles in the front of your upper arms that you use to pick up bags and small children. These exercises target those two muscle groups.
Monday: Back and Biceps
Curl and Press
SIT on the stability ball or a chair with your feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides, palms facing out.
KEEPING your upper body stable, bend your elbows and curl weights toward your shoulders.
IMMEDIATELY turn your wrists so your palms face out in front of you and press the weights straight overhead. Pause, then slowly reverse the move, lowering the weights to your shoulders, rotating your palms, and lowering the weights to your sides.
KEEP your shoulders down as you curl and lift; don’t let them hunch up toward your ears.
SIT ON the edge of the stability ball or a chair with your feet together and flat on the floor.
HOLD a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your back flat, bend forward at the waist and lower your chest to about 7-10cm (3-4in) above your knees, letting your arms hang down on either side of your legs with your hands by your feet.
SQUEEZE your shoulder blades and raise the weights out to the sides until your arms are outstretched parallel with the floor. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.
Tuesday: Chest and Triceps
Your chest is composed of fan-shaped muscles that span from shoulders to sternum and help you to push shopping trolleys or pushchairs and hug loved ones. Your triceps are also ‘pushing’ muscles, located on the backs of your upper arms – notoriously weak and saggy spots.
Stability Ball Push-Ups
PLACE the stability ball against a wall, then kneel in front of it so it’s between you and the wall.
PLACE your hands on the ball so they’re directly below your shoulders. Walk back on your knees until your body forms a straight line from your head to your knees. You should be leaning forwards into the ball.
KEEPING your torso straight and your abdominal muscles contracted (concentrate on pulling your belly button to your spine), bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the ball.
STOP when your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Pause, then return to the starting position.
PROP a sturdy chair against a wall and sit with the heels of your hands on the edge of the seat. Inch your buttocks off the seat, supporting your weight with your hands.
KEEPING your shoulders down and your back straight, bend your elbows back and dip your body toward the floor as far as is comfortably possible (even if it’s just a little way). Push back up to the starting position.
TO MAKE the move more challenging, extend one leg and plant the heel of that foot on the floor in front of you.
Wednesday: Legs and Core
The muscles in your thighs, calves and buttocks account for about half your muscle mass. Core (abdominal, lower back and hip) strength is vital to good health. Researchers who followed a group of adults for 13 years found that those who could perform the most sit-ups were significantly less likely to die prematurely than those who could perform the least.
Stability Ball Squat
STAND with the stability ball between your back and the wall so the ball supports you from your hips to your shoulders. Move your feet forward so they’re slightly in front of your body.
LOOKING straight ahead and keeping your torso erect, bend your knees and squat down, rolling along the ball until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Hold for 2 seconds, then return to the starting position. You can make the move more challenging by holding dumbbells at your sides.
LIE face down on the floor with your upper body propped on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders and your palms flat on the floor.
RAISE your body so that your torso, hips and legs are off the floor and your body is in a straight line, supported on your forearms and toes. Don’t let your back arch or droop, and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Perform just one repetition per set.
Thursday: Back and Biceps
A return to the muscles exercised on Monday, but with two different exercises.
SIT on the stability ball or a chair with your feet flat on the floor and a shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, letting your arms hang naturally at your sides, palms facing in.
SLOWLY CURL the dumbbells toward your collarbone, turning your wrists toward your body as you lift, so that your palms end up facing you. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.
STAND with your feet a shoulder-width apart, your back straight and your knees slightly bent for support. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your back straight, bend 90 degrees from the waist and let your arms hang towards the floor, palms facing your legs.
SQUEEZE your shoulder blades together and bend your elbows, raising the dumbbells on either side of your torso. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.
Friday: Chest and Triceps
Back to the muscles exercised on Tuesday, with some fresh strengthening moves.
LIE BACK on the stability ball so it supports your torso from your neck to your midback, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells over your chest with your arms extended and your palms facing each other. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
SLOWLY OPEN your arms to the sides, lowering the weights until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. Keep your shoulders down and back throughout the move.
SIT ON the stability ball with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells in front of you with your arms bent at 90-degree angles and your elbows at your sides. Keeping your back straight, bend slightly from the hips.
STRAIGHTEN your arms and extend the weights behind your back, turning your palms toward the ceiling once your arms are fully extended. Pause, then return to the starting position.
Saturday: Legs and Core
A return to the muscles exercised on Wednesday, but with interesting variations.
Stability Ball Leg Curls
LIE ON your back on the floor, extend your legs, and place your heels on top of the stability ball. Rest your arms on the floor by your sides, palms down.
PRESS your heels into the ball and lift your buttocks up a little from the floor.
BEND your knees, using your heels to pull the ball toward your buttocks so your feet end up flat on the ball. Pause, then return to the starting position.
LIE ON your left side with your knees bent. Bend your left arm so your forearm is extended in front of you perpendicular to your body, then lift your torso off the floor. Your upper body should form a straight line from your hips to your shoulders.
PLACE your right hand on your hip and hold for 5 to 15 seconds. Return to the starting position, then repeat on other side. Work up to holding on each side for 30 to 60 seconds. Perform just one rep per set.