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The diva workout in five simple steps

Last updated on: October 21, 2014 20:14 IST

Fitness trainer Jason Johal of Centre of Obesity and Diabetic Support offers a sneak peek into the workout sessions of the models participating in the Miss Diva Universe 2014 contest.

 Jason Johal (seen here with the winner of the Miss Health and Fitness title, ShreeRadhe Khanduja) likes to focus on the core -- the midsection covering one's abs, back, sides and lower lats.

These muscles work as stabilisers for the entire body and improve body balance and posture.

In direct result of this, physical performance improves in activities such as running and weight training and reduces the risk of injuries.

So when he was asked to train the finalists of the recently-concluded Miss Diva Universe contest, he did just that and educated them on the importance of core training as opposed to isolation training (sit-ups, bicep curls etc).

Additionally, he also drilled in the importance of five golden rules:

  • Technique: learn how to do it correctly
  • No cheating on form: quality over quantity
  • Diet: 80 per cent of the hard work
  • Rest: muscles need to recover
  • Consistency: keep going!

Here are some of the workouts that he used to whip the girls into shape!

Photograph: Nidhi Taparia


1. Side Plank

This one is a a classic exercise that works the entire core, but focuses on the obliques, a common issue the girls shared.

Here's how you do it:

  • Lie on your left side with your knees straight.
  • Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm. Position your elbow under your shoulder.
  • Brace your core by contracting your abs forcefully as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
  • Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Your head should stay in line with your body.
  • Hold this position for the prescribed amount of time while breathing deeply. That's one set.
  • Turn around so that you're lying on your right side and repeat.

Photograph: Jaykayfit/Wikimedia Creative Commons


2. Bodyweight squats and weighted squats

A fundamental exercise that focuses on toning the lower body, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Secondary muscles involved in the exercise are the abs, another common shared problem area.

Here's how you do it:

  • Set your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward. Pull in your lower abs, and keep your eyes forward.
  • Slowly bend at the knees (knees should bend outwards) and drop your hips to lower your body. Keep your heels flat on the floor.
  • Once you are at a right angle or slightly below, pause for a moment and strongly push back up from the heels to the starting position.
  • Repeat for desired number of reps.

Tips:

  • Breathe through the nose on the way down and out through the mouth on the way up.
  • To counter balance your weight, hold your arms out in front of you at shoulder height or cross over the chest.
  • Keep your back as straight as possible throughout the lift to avoid strain or injury

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com


3. Plank

Another popular core exercise that works multiple muscle groups, but has to be performed correctly for all the muscles to benefit.

The abs is the primary muscle used group but is heavily supported by your shoulders, quadriceps and hamstrings to enable the position to be maintained.

Here's how you do it:

  • Get into push-up position on the floor and widen legs to should be width apart (it can be performed with legs together also)
  • Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders.
  • Your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for as long as you can. Legs and abs should be tensed throughout.
  • Breathe: do not hold your breath, keep breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth to help you focus and controlled.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com


4. Leg raises

Leg raises target the area where most of us find it difficult to lose fat... the lower abs. Another added benefit is that leg raises also use the lower back muscles, not to mention the legs of course.

Here's how you do it:

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs together stretched out in front of you. Keep your hands flat down on the ground.
  • Raise your legs keeping them straight and your toes pointed. Your thighs should be perpendicular to your body.
  • Once your toes are facing the ceiling, slowly lower your legs to about an inch off the floor. Don't just let gravity work for your -- make sure you're in control.
  • If the exercise feels too easy, try to lower more slowly.
  • Slowly raise your legs back up to the ceiling.
  • Repeat 10 times, rest for 30 seconds. Try to do 3 sets.

Photograph Courtesy: Shameem Akhtar


5. Circuit training

This is a one stop shop for the whole body.

Performing a series of exercises for a fixed time period gives the body a full workout.

The exercises are a mix of strength, power and fat loss.

The girls thoroughly enjoyed this as they were in a group and cheered each other on, especially when things become tough.

A typical circuit that they went through were:

  • Squats with 3-5kg medicine ball/jumping squats
  • Russian ball twists
  • Leg raises
  • High knee jogging on the spot
  • Dips
  • Step ups with 3-6 kg dumbbells

Each exercise would be for 30-45 secs with 5-10 secs rest between each activity. We would normally do 3 circuits consisting of different exercises for variety but maintained the focus of the core muscles.

Photograph: Dangerously Fit/Creative Commons

Jason Johal