December 15, 2009

She just never stops: Attila's latest moves

You have got to be freakin' kidding me.

This week's edition of Things I Wish I Hadn't Done comes courtesy of static poses and itty-bitty muscle work. It's sponsored by the letters O and U and C and H, and co-sponsored by my very sore obliques and shoulder muscles.

Have you ever thought, as you're swinging weights around dangerously close to your head, the ceiling fan, and other people, that your muscles just aren't getting enough of itsy-teeny movements and static strength-building?

Well, neither have I. Unfortunately for all of us, Attila thinks about these things, and once in a while she brings in a set or three of exercises that make me fully aware of how taxing little movements or just staying still can be. Wanna hear about it? Great! Grab some cheezy puffs and read on, being thankful all the time that You Are Not Me.

Torturous Move The First: What the Hell are Rhomboids, anyhow?

Rhomboids are those muscles that run from your spine to your shoulder blade on either side of your back. I'm sure they're important for something, but I can't remember what at the moment. If you want to make yours sore, do this:

Grab one of those big rubber bands that trainers use. Hold it behind your back at butt-level and pull outwards with both arms more-or-less straight. Repeat. Endlessly.

This is one of those moves that seems easy-peasy at first but gets progressively harder. About halfway through the second set, I begin to whine. Midway through the third set, I add grousing to my whining. If I'm made to do a fourth set, the intensity and volume of my whining reaches a point that I am doing aerobic exercise along with my WTHRhomboids Reps.

Torturous Move The Second: Remember Yoga Class?

The Plank: Beloved of yoga instructors and trainers, reviled by those actually made to stay in that position for more than a few seconds at a stretch. This one works your shoulders, chest, and core.

Assume the pushup position with your elbows bent, your chest a few inches off the floor, and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.

Now stay there. For forty-five seconds to a minute. Sweat and shake and puff and blow beginning about fifteen seconds in.

Because I'm working on looking less anatomically impossible (in other words, I can almost see my neck again, rising out of my shoulder muscles) and because I have a bum shoulder, Attila lets me do these with my forearms on the floor. It really makes no difference to me; planks suck rocks no matter how you do them.

For extra added fun, make sure you have a cat who wants to sleep in the small of your back, or a dog who wants to lick your face as you're doing this one!

And Finally, The Side Plank!

This is great for your obliques, your thighs, your core, and your sense of persecution.

Lie on your side with your hip/waist/chest up off the floor, your weight supported by the side of your foot and your arm, and raise the arm that's not supporting your weight straight up in the air. Or, alternatively, you can let it lie on your side. Or you can grab hopelessly at thin air as your trainer hops around, just out of your reach, and giggles. Hold this position for about a million years, then switch to the other side.

See? Easy. Until the next morning, when you have to get out of bed. I'll be honest, and without hyperbole for just a second: of all the sessions I dread, I dread Itty-Bitty Muscle sessions the most. They're the most useful for me, as I have to be extremely functional in terms of core strength, balance, and stability, but they're also the most grueling. I'd rather duck-walk for a half mile or do good-mornings all darn day than have one session of planks and band work.

But hey, everybody's different. You go 'head and plank all you want; I'll just be sitting here in the corner in my red-hot iron shoes.


  1. Yikes. I did pilates and yoga for a while. There is a fine line (that I jumped across my very first time) between good exercise and out of commission for a while! But, man it does wonders for muscle strength.

    I'm always exhausted just reading about Atilla!

  2. Ick!

    I don't know why I have a special hatred of planks, both the regular kind and the side kind. Partly because my ARMS wanna give out before my core, which doesn't seem fair since they're supposed to be a core exercise.

    And I love this line: "This is great for your obliques, your thighs, your core, and your sense of persecution."

  3. So strange: I love the plank pose. Now arm work--like exercise No. 1 here, that's a different story. Yikes.

  4. Ooh - a side plank. Never had the pleasure...yet. I'm just glad my trainer Brad and your Attila have never met...or HAVE they?!?

  5. I like the sounds of this Attila person. Sounds almost like a CrossFit coach.

    I've done that little handstand thingy before for about .2 milliseconds before I fell over onto my face. Planks as well.

    Burpees and Turkish Get-ups come to mind. ;) The more it hurts, the better it feels.

  6. I'm a weirdo who loves side planks but HATES regular planks. I'm betting it has something to do with the fact that I have strong obliques but mushy lower abs.

  7. LOL! I tried "bird pose" as the yoga teacher called it (your first picture) last week and I definitely hurt my shoulder. It's still giving me trouble. :( O.U.C.H.

  8. Attila is all about tough love! My trainer has me do the planks and oblique moves you showed too. When I proudly confessed that the planks were getting easier, he made me do them with my arms on the Bosu Ball! Planks are the worst!

  9. "This is great for your obliques, your thighs, your core, and your sense of persecution."

    OMG. I was happy with my obliques, thighs, and core...but I seriously need to work on my sense of persecution!

    You're killing me.

    Would you like a cheezy puff?

  10. The only time I've ever had anything to do with a plank is when a pirate forced me to walk one with his scabbard pointed into my backside.

  11. I love these posts about your workouts with Attila, not only entertaining but occasionally I steal a move here or there cause I like to feel your pain ;)

    Have a great day!

  12. The good thing about aging not-so-gracefully is that I already know that any one of these moves would put me in permanent rehab!!

    Nice post.


  13. Oooh, ideas! I've never seen the band exercise before, I will have to inflict that upon my class! *maniacal laugh*

    I do planks and side planks all the time (though personally, I don't like side planks because my wrists hurt). I often have them do an elbow plank for 2 minutes in a boot camp station, but I do tell them if they need a break, drop their hips and take a couple breaths.

  14. I'm a plank addict. However, my wrists wear out before anything else becomes more than slightly difficult, and my shoulder objects to the forearm position even faster.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  15. you think side planks are bad? try it while lifting weights with the upper arm. or doing crunches in side plank position. THAT really sucks.

  16. I want an Atilla!

    I do planks in more ways than I can count! :-)

  17. I agree with you: planks in any form are trying. Glad you made it through your session...

  18. I really some basic handstand training I have tried many time but I fails to do this stuff I think I need some basic training to do it.I know the Handstand Pushup is the KING of Weight Loss.

  19. I really some basic handstand training I have tried many time but I fails to do this stuff I think I need some basic training to do it.I know the Handstand Pushup is the KING of Weight Loss.

  20. I love your Atilla posts.

    And I will happily do your planks if you'll do my duck walks. I LOATHE duck walks.

    I used to be able to do that yoga pose forever...when I was twelve. I seem to have - ahem - outgrown it.

  21. I have to say that I enjoyed reading this post. I understand your sentiment about those Yoga moves. But man! I love doing them. I love the way my muscles feel after. Yoga and Pilates are my workouts of choice.



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