GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND -- While you are at work, wouldn't you like to be doing some exercises that can take that softness from your flesh, tone you up, and increase your overall strength and stamina? Maybe make you good-looking, too?
Many of you have been asking for a simple and specific routine that you can do anywhere. Here it is, and though you may not think so at first glance, this routine is tough enough for a gorilla, yet suitable for the over-the-hill gang.
Dr. Arno Jensen of the Cooper Clinic and his son Eric have worked with me on this routine. For 20 years Arnie has been practicing and refining this approach to overall body fitness. The exercises are the same regardless of your age, sex or physical condition, but the degree of difficulty of each exercise changes with those variables.
Here I'm going to tell you about our routine for generally toning up from toe to top.
Be sure you always start at the lowest level of exertion and don't promote yourself until you can do each exercise three times for the full amount of repetitions.
Rest for three minutes between sets, breathe normally as you exercise, and never, never hold your breath.
You should do these three times a week, always taking a day off between workouts, and always waiting at least an hour after meals before beginning.
If you have a known medical problem (high blood pressure, for instance) show this program to your doctor before beginning.
As you achieve a level of exertion, cross it out and promote yourself.
These are good for your calf muscles.
First Level: With both feet flat on the floor and a hand on a table or desk for support, raise up on your toes as high as possible and then slowly lower yourself. Repeat 20 times or until you are tired. Do three sets.
Second Level: Put both feet on a step, heels hanging over the edge, and a hand on a wall for support, then raise up on your toes as high as possible and slowly lower yourself as low as possible. Repeat 20 times or until you are tired. Do three sets.
Third level: Do one foot at a time on a step. Toe raises are easy things to do while you talk on the phone.
Particularly good for tightening your upper leg and your quadriceps. Don't do this with really tight-fitting clothes, and at first -- for safety -- support yourself between two sturdy chairs.
First Level: With your hands on your supports, bend your legs slightly until you feel a slight pressure in your thighs, then straighten back up completely. Repeat until you are tired (up to 20 repetitions) and then do two more sets. Each week, go slightly deeper as your strength increases, until your thighs are horizontal with the floor.
Second level: With your hands free (if you are comfortable), go to the horizontal position, but as you come up slowly, do not straighten your legs completely. Start back down again with your legs slightly bent. Repeat for normal repetitions and sets.
Third level: Repeat with a weight (like a good book) in one hand.
Fourth Level: Repeat with weights in each hand. A caution: Never go below horizontal at any level.
These really work your upper abdomen. Lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat, and your back flat against the floor. Do each level of difficulty until you can complete three sets of 30 without feeling uncomfortable.
First level: With your hands on your chest, lift your head off the floor as far as you can comfortably and then lower it.
Second level: Lift your head and shoulders as far as you can comfortably.
Third level: Lift your upper chest as far as you can comfortably.
Fourth level: Place a large book on your chest and lift your chest as far as you can comfortably.
Fifth level: Hold the book behind your head and lift as far as you can comfortably.
A carpeted floor makes this exercise much more comfortable.
Leg Raises for Lower Abdomen
This really does tighten the lower stomach, but if you're overweight, it won't correct that sin. Lose weight and your work will show. Do each level of difficulty until you can complete three sets of 30 without feeling uncomfortable.
First level: Lie flat on your back with your hands under your hips (palms up or down, as comfortable). Raise one leg, keeping it as straight as possible, and as high as you can comfortably, then lower it to the floor and rest.
Second level: Raise both legs at once, then lower them to the floor and rest.
Third level: Raise both legs at once, then lower to within one inch of floor and go back up.
Fourth level: With your arms out to the side and your shoulders flat, make a slow, sweeping, metronome movement with your legs.
These are a cinch at the first level, but are only for professionals at the last level. Most of you can get there, too, if you're patient. Three sets of 12 repetitions, please.
First level: Stand two to three feet from a sturdy wall, and do push-ups against the wall.
Second level: Put your hands on a sturdy desk and do push-ups, touching your chest to the desk; each week move your feet further from the desk.
Third level: When you are at a 45-degree angle, do push-ups on your knees on the floor.
Fourth level: Do negative push-ups (with your weight on your hands and toes, lower your body to the floor).
Fifth level: Do regular push-ups.
Sixth level: Do push-ups with your hands on separate sturdy chairs and your feet on a sturdy chair, lowering yourself as far as possible.
Seventh level: Put your feet on a chair, your hands on the floor and do push-ups.
Palms-up Chin-ups for Biceps
You'll need a chin-up bar for this and the next one. Make one at home from a strong dowel, or buy a portable one.
First level: Put your bar between two sturdy chairs and lie under it, pulling up on the bar, palm up (facing toward you), as far as comfortable. Do three sets of 12.
Second level: Install your bar at shoulder level. With your palms up, collapse your knees as much as comfortable and pull yourself up. Do three sets of 12.
Third level: Do negative curls with the bar in the same position: use your legs to raise your chin to the bar, and then lift your legs off the floor, slowly lowering yourself. Do these until you can't stop yourself from coming down, and do them for at least three weeks.
Fourth level: Do regular palm up chin-ups, pulling your chin over the bar. Three sets of 12.
Fifth level: Vary the position of your hands: have them close at times and far apart at times.
These are great for your upper back and lats. Do like the above, with your palms facing down (away from you).
Do each of these three exercises with no weight at first, three sets of 12 repetitions for each exercise. And then hold a small book in each hand. Increase your degree of difficulty gradually by going to larger books, eventually graduating to bound volumes of the Congressional Record. Incidentally, you never need to use more than 10 pounds in each hand to really achieve a maximal shoulder workout.
Exercise 1. Standing straight, with your elbows absolutely straight, raise your arms to parallel in front of you. Lower them. Repeat.
Exercise 2. Standing straight, with your elbows absolutely straight, raise your arms parallel to the side. Lower them.
Exercise 3. With your legs at shoulder width, lean over with your back like a table top, if possible. With your elbows absolutely straight, raise your arms parallel to the side. You definitely don't want much weight here, incidentally. This is a hard exercise.
Once you have graduated to the final degree of difficulty in all these exercises, you can make them infinitely harder by continuing your repetitions until failure.
Will all these exercises really make you handsome or beautiful? I knew you would ask that. If you do these exercises religiously, be good when you eat, and simply walk a little more, they will change you more than you know within a year. Aside from that fact they'll make your waking hours a lot more enjoyable. So, start today, and let me hear from you in a month or so.