This tried-and-true warm-up exercise for dancers is a total body strengthener and provides good cross-training for runners with tight hamstrings.
Fitness expert Jennifer Kries uses it in her “Hot Body Cool Mind” DVD series because it builds strength while improving balance and flexibility — things that diminish as we age.
What it does
This leaning extension stretches your hamstrings and tones your glutes as it sculpts and strengthens your back, shoulders and core.
What to do
Start on your hands and knees on your mat. With wrists directly under your shoulders, push up into an upside down “V” position; often referred to as downward dog in yoga. Point your right foot and stretch it as high as you can in the air behind you as you inhale, keeping shoulders back and down.
Exhale and bring it back in behind your left ankle as you slightly bend or plie the left knee. Repeat the movement, inhaling and extending your leg back in the air in a straight line with toes pointed, and exhaling and bringing the leg in as you bend. Switch legs and repeat the movement, extending the left leg.
Do four repetitions on each leg. Repeat the set if your strength and stamina allow.