Exercise Bicycle

HOLLYWOOD—David, a reader of the Grady Diet, recently wrote, “One thing I’d like to learn more about: exercise in the morning.  Could you give me a more detailed run-down on the specific exercises you do in your 20 minute pre-breakfast session?”

Think about the part of your body that needs the most work, and build exercises around that. Parts of you that are already in good shape, you don’t need to do exercises focused on them. Of course, beyond the physical changes you seek, the benefits that will endear exercise to you are increased resilience during the day, improved spirits, and even resistance to the common cold.

Here’s the classic routine I’ve developed: after hopping out of bed, saying “I love my life,” splashing water on my face. (Saying “I love my life” seems to work a lot better than groaning.) I stagger to my living room and I lace my hands over my head and stretch high as I can go (these are yoga poses that adepts call the Sun Sequence.)

Fingers still laced, standing, I bring the hands to my midriff. While keeping feet planted, I swivel my right elbow all the way to the right; then my left elbow all the way to the left, back far as it can go–my arms describing a semicircle, far to the right and far to the left. Repeat this half a dozen times.

The fingers of both hands laced together, bring the right elbow down toward the floor, so your body is crooked to the right side. (Your left forearm should rest atop your head.) Breathe in and out ten times.

Do the mirror image, keeping the hands laced together and the left elbow pointed down toward the floor. Breathe in and out ten times.
Then do the abdominal lock, hands down on the knees, crouched a bit, head tucked in on chest. (Only do this on an empty stomach in the morning; it’s not for pregnant women either). Put you hands on your knees, which jut slightly forward, and exhale, 30, 40 seconds till you feel ready to gasp. Stand up, taking two or three deep recovery breaths. Also I extend both hands horizontally from my shoulders.

Repeat, tucking in your chin and jutting knees slightly forward, exhaling till there’s no more to exhale. Stand up, extend your arms and take two or three deep recovery breaths. I perform this cycle four times. That’s enough. (The benefits of this one are more waking up, becoming lucid, though it’s initial aim was to tone my stomach muscles.)

Now, the Cobra: lie flat on the floor, head and stomach down–palms at the pectoral muscle level. Then raise your head much as possible with the force of shoulders and head (NOT the palm of your hand) (Breathe in and out ten times.)  This one is for my posture.

(All the exercises to this point were drawn from “The Yoga Bible” by Christina Brown, an extremely handy book that has pictures and tells you what the poses achieve.)

Then I lie on one side, one hand propping my head, the free hand thrust ceilingward, and the leg on top, led by the foot, reaches up (I started doing it 15 times now three years later, up to 25) Turn on your other side and repeat lifting the other leg to the ceiling.

Now I’ll do a few double leg lifts.  Lying on the floor, I raise my heels a foot off the floor, then lowered to hover six inches above the floor. Breathe in breathe out four times. Heels back to ground.

Now to wrap it up: One day I’ll do sit ups–a total of 100-150 broken down in different sets–60, 60, 30, say. (Before I started my “diet” 4 sit-ups would be a lot, and I’ve gradually worked up the number during the last seven years.)

I vary it: the next day push-ups, around 100 in sets of 25-30, short breaks in between. Some mornings when I’m writing about doing exercise, for example, I often do an abbreviated routine.

Writing you makes me want to start an experiment: one month of only push-ups and see what that does to my abdominals. I was born in the Chinese year of the guinea pig. David, a million thanks for writing and asking me about a typical routine. And happy exercising!

Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now,” available on Kindle. He can be reached at grady.miller@canyon-news.com.

By Grady Miller