Category Archives: Getting It Right

Triceps hinges

Getting it right: Triceps hinges

The triceps muscle works in opposition with the biceps to bend and straighten the arm. It’s the wobbly bit at the back of your upper arm and a pair is sometimes rather unkindly called mother-in-law arms, Bingo arms or tuck-shop arms. 🙂 It is probably the muscle ladies want to tone more than any other – at least in the upper body.

Two Vertifirm™ moves that target the triceps are Hinge Back and Hinge Sides. The elbow is the hinge. In both moves, the only part of the arm that moves is the forearm. From shoulder to elbow, the upper arm remains still. In both moves, keep your neck long and don’t hunch up your shoulders. As with all Vertifirm™ moves, focus on the targeted muscle, feeling it alternately contract and relax, and think resistance and control.

Hinge Side. This session, we Hinge Side in Vertifirm™ during Pose Behind Then Squat, and also in the Booster, in the Long Glide in and out of the circle.

Your elbows point to the side walls and your fists extend out to the sides and back to the chest as your forearms hinge down nearly 180 degrees. Keep your fists close to your body, not out in front, as your arms bend. Your knuckles face front throughout the move.

Common mistakes: dropping the upper arm; engaging the back muscles by hunching the shoulders.

Hinge Back. This session, we Hinge Back during the Hover Squats in Vertifirm™. Your elbows point to the back wall while your fists extend back till the arm is straight, then arc in to end near your armpits. Don’t drop your elbows as your fists move forward or you’ll be working your deltoids, not your triceps. Your knuckles face the side walls throughout the move, and you should not see your arms at any time.

Common mistakes: dropping the elbows to the waist and swinging the forearms to the front of the body as the arm bends. Check your form by standing side-on at a mirror and ensuring that your entire arm remains behind your back and your upper arm does not move.


Floorwork guide

Where to place your mat for the Floorwork exercises

In the floorwork segment of class, we work our abdominal muscles by curling up from a lying position in a variety of ways. Important points are:

• Correct execution matters in these routines, so please watch your instructor and imitate her form. If she is facing your side of the room, you will need to turn your mat 90 degrees or more to see her. If this upsets your sense of left and right, choose a position on the other side of the room. (The instructor’s verbal cues always refer to the students’ left and right.)

• Support your head with your hands during curls but do not pull on your neck. We recommend using your fingertips to make a cage around your ears. Clasping your hands behind your head or neck is more likely to result in a sore neck.

• During curls (and some other moves when cued by your instructor), keep your lower back pressed to the floor. This protects against back strain and develops your lower abs.

• Keep your eyes on the ceiling during curls, with a space the size of an orange under your chin. This ensures that your neck stays in line with your spine and that your abdominals, not your arms, lift your head and shoulders.

• Rest when you need to. Even if you can manage only one or two curls at first, you will gradually be able to do more as your abdominal muscles strengthen.

• Keep your head and shoulders lifted during routines that involve leg extensions like take-a-walk and leg pulleys. If you need a rest and want to lower your head, also stop moving your legs in order to avoid back strain.

• If curls are combined with leg extensions and you want less challenge, stop curling but keep your legs going with head and shoulders lifted. Alternatively, you may stop the leg movements and just do the curls.

• If you want a break during clam curls (curl combined with hip lift) you may stop either the curl or the hip lift, or both. In the clam curls, the legs are not extended horizontally so the potential for back strain is avoided.

If all the above seems too much to remember, don’t worry! Your instructor will guide you, so just heed her cues and copy her moves.

In class, does form matter?

Yes and no.

In the floorwork and the VertifirmTM segment immediately following it, proper execution of moves is important. This part of the class is designed to tone and strengthen specific muscles, but the intended body benefit is diminished or even lost if a move is done incorrectly. This is why your instructor will sometimes demonstrate a move’s correct form before or after class, and why during routines she cues reminders to position your limbs a certain way, etc. Continue reading In class, does form matter?