Some people talk about getting in shape as if it’s something that will just happen one day, almost by chance. The truth is, the stars don’t need to align for you to start seeing changes—but your body does. Strengthening your ability to stay centered while you move allows your body to work properly. That is, if you can control your torso position while you move your head, shoulders, and arms around you, you can stabilize your body throughout any kind of exercise or activity you do. That means better, more efficient movement and less risk for injury.
In Week 4 of our 8-week Star Wars Fuel Your Force program, you’ll work on improving your ability to reach and twist through your spine and arms. This will help release your neck, shoulders, and upper back, which get tight from sitting at desks and in cars for long periods. Do these moves as a warmup before an upper-body workout, or after a long day of office work to help you unwind from sitting at your computer too long. Over time, you’ll find that they help you use the muscles you want to use when performing certain motions (say, turning your head to the right without having to turn your shoulders with it), leading to a more balanced and structurally sound body.
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Star Wars Fuel Your Force, Week 4, Center
Products used in this workout:
Onnit’s Han Solo Yoga Mat
Perfect Shaker Bottle
Perform 5–8 reps of each exercise (on each side where noted) in the order shown.
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and reach down to the floor with both hands. Actively extend your fingers toward the floor—imagine you were shooting electricity out of them—so that your shoulders are pulled down and your chest is open. Tuck your tailbone underneath you and draw your ribs down, so you feel your core tighten. Retract your neck so that your chin is level with the floor and not pointing up. Remember this position—it is the starting point for every exercise in this series.
Exhale, and tilt your head to the right, drawing your right ear down to the shoulder. Try to bend your neck purely to the side—don’t let it twist or rotate. Feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Inhale as you return your head to center. Repeat on the other side.
2. Head Rotation
Exhale, and turn your head to the right as far as you can, looking over your right shoulder. Only your head should move, so be careful to keep your stable starting position and don’t let your shoulders or hips twist. Inhale on the way back and repeat to the left side.
Inhale as you draw your elbows back and push your chest forward, extending your spine. Exhale, and reach forward, spreading your shoulder blades as far apart as you can. Clasp your hands together in front of you and extend your index fingers so it looks like you’re pointing.
4. Lateral Reach
Extend your arms out to your sides and actively reach so you feel a stretch in the center of your back. Exhale, and tilt your torso to the right, reaching further to the nearest wall while keeping your hips centered. Inhale as you come back, and repeat to the other side.
5. Rotate and Reach
Raise your arms 90 degrees out to your sides and bend your elbows so your fingers point to each other. Exhale and rotate as far as you can to the right and extend your arm straight back behind you with thumb pointing up. Inhale as you return to center and repeat on the opposite side.
6. Lateral Flexion
Exhale, and reach your left hand overhead while you reach the right arm down and across your body. Try to keep your arms straight and move only at the spine (don’t let your hips kick out to the side). Inhale as you return to center and repeat on the opposite side.
7. Shoulder Roll
Roll your shoulders up, back, down, and forward, making big circles. Inhale as you raise them up and back and exhale as you go down and forward. Do your reps and then reverse the direction of the circle.
8. Backstroke with Reach
Raise your left hand overhead and reach your right to the floor. Begin rotating your arms as if doing a swimming backstroke, pausing for a split second when your right is in front of you and your left is pointing behind you to extend your arms a little further apart. Exhale as you extend and then inhale as you continue with the rotation.
9. Overhead Arm Circles
Reach both arms overhead and extend your elbows, flexing your triceps. Keep your ribs drawn down, your pelvis level with the floor, and your core engaged. Begin tracing circles with your arms. Do your reps and then change directions. Exhale through any range where you feel tension.
Now that you’ve done the whole series, return to the lateral neck tilt to test the range of motion in your neck. We bet you’ll be able to bend it further and you’ll feel less tension.
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