Great to have you back again, mind-body students. This week, we have a new installment in a series that has become a blog favorite: the mind-body workouts!
On the agenda for today: a total workout for the arms, which includes work on your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and more! The workout is divided up into three sections: strength-building, speed work, and relaxing. Let's jump right in.
Mind-Body Workout #8: Building Strength, Speed, and Health in the Arms
Part 1: Strengthening
Wall Push-ups with Fire-Breath: This exercise gets the blood-flowing into the arms and chest. Remember to do both kinds of sets, elbows-in, and elbows-out. These work the biceps and chest, and the triceps and deltoids respectively. If you find that this exercise is too easy for you, you can always take a small step back from the wall and move your hands lower. Add in fire breath to engage and calm the mind!
Panther Walk: This is a more intense pushing exercise that will truly build strength in your arms as you launch your body off the ground with each repetition. To really mix it up, do a set of 10 or so going forward, backward, left, and right. (You can always start with five each way instead, if 10 is too difficult.)
Part 2: Speed
The Washing Machine: If you do this technique slowly, it is a nice relaxing move. However, you can speed the move up to practice quick, precise movements with the arms. As you increase the speed, you want to bring the circles closer to your body and make them tighter. This technique is particularly relevant for developing effective blocking movements in martial arts.
Saber: This speed move is another technique that doubles as a relaxing technique depending on how slowly or quickly you do it. The first rule is to keep the stick as straight as possible all throughout the movement. You can watch yourself perform it straight ahead in the mirror to see if the stick is flaring to one side or the other. The motion should require less and less arm movement as you become more coordinated and proficient with it. As that happens, focus more of your energy on breathing deep. Remember: swift, precise arm movement.
Part 3: Relaxation
Iron on the Wall with Fire Breath: This is a classic exercise here on the blog. You can't believe how much of a difference simply letting go of the tension in the shoulders and neck can make. Not just for arm health, but for total body and mind health! You want the muscles between the neck and shoulders (the trapezius muscle) to become soft and moldable, kind of like clay. For most people, they start like rock. Hold the stretch for 2-3 minutes, working up to that if you can't hold it that long at first.
Reduce Inflammation: Working your arms hard can cause issues in the complex joints. The biggest cause of this harm is intense stress on the joints (like doing a heavy arm strengthening workout) followed by very little motion and range of motion use. To avoid having this happen while you are developing arm strength and speed, you should do this gentle exercise for a few minutes with both arms. There are two basic motions: vertical, and horizontal. Do both to help heal any minor strain or damage the joints naturally experience as you work them out.
And that's it! Happy Stretching!