Week Two of the Summer Fitness Plan for midlifers: upper body and sleep

Jo and Luke Gray are guiding you through a six-week reset plan to get you

Jo and Luke Gray are guiding you through a six-week reset plan to get you in shape over summer - The Telegraph
Jo and Luke Gray are guiding you through a six-week reset plan to get you in shape over summer – The Telegraph

For the first week’s plan, click here. Week Three will be published on Monday August 10


This week’s exercises

By Luke Gray

Last week I focused on the core, probably the most influential part of the body during exercise. This week, it’s all about the upper body. These exercises can be done each day and should last no longer than 20 minutes in total.

1. Shoulder Taps

10-20 reps

Luke demonstrates a shoulder tap
Luke demonstrates a shoulder tap

For those who can manage an extended plank position, shoulder taps are quite a challenge. But don’t worry if you can’t achieve an extended plank, you can do this move with a half extended plank, where your knees are on the floor.

  1. Position yourself on your hands with the shoulders directly above. Feet off the floor and body parallel to the floor.

  2. Touch your right shoulder with your left hand and repeat by touching your left shoulder with your right hand.

My Top Tip: Try to keep your hips still and parallel to the ground in order to make the core work even harder, while also protecting the back.


2. Downward Dog

10-20 reps

Now that you are beginning to master the extended plank position, it opens up so many more exercises for you.

  1. Start in an extended plank position and whilst maintaining hands directly below the shoulders, lift your buttocks up high with the head tucking between the arms and legs straight.

  2. Return back into an extended plank position and repeat 10-20 times.

  3. You can achieve exactly the same exercise on your hands and knees, as you can in the extended plank

  4. Lift your knees off the floor while simultaneously lifting your buttocks up high.

  5. Return back to your original hand and knee position.


3. Push-ups

10-20 reps

Push-ups are one of the finest exercises to strengthen your arms, chest and core.

  1. If you are able to hold an extended plank position, maintain your hands directly below the shoulders keeping your body parallel.

  2. Lower your chest towards the ground and concentrate on maintaining a strong core position.

  3. Extend your arms fully until you are at your original extended plank position.

  4. If you can manage a half plank on your hands and knees, lower your chest towards the floor between your hands.

My Top Tip: Core engagement throughout prevents strain on the back.


4. The Renegade

10-20 reps on both sides

Luke performs the renegade
Luke performs the renegade

These are effectively three-point planks and are a fabulous way to encourage your core to work extra hard to stabilise the body during exercise.

  1. If you can hold an extended plank with both hands on the floor, lift one arm upwards off the floor and alternate from left to right arm.

  2. It is an equally demanding exercise on your hands and knees.

My Top Tip: Engaging the core throughout the exercise makes sure that the hips don’t tip from side to side.


The lifestyle tweaks

By Jo Gray

Each week, I’m going to show you easy changes that will improve your sleep, stress, posture and social connections. This week, it’s sleep, which effectively pulls all of the others together.

We know that lockdown has affected our sleep. It could be due to stress, drinking more alcohol than usual, or simply a change to our routine. Here’s four steps to getting it back on track how to get it back on track…


1. Get into a routine

Parents of young children know how important a good bedtime routine is for getting children to sleep. So create one for yourself, which involves switching off all electronics after 9pm, having a bath, and a warm, caffeine-free drink before bed.


2. Tidy your mind

Before bed, take some time to think about any overlapping worries and thoughts and put them into individual ‘boxes’ in your mind. After you’ve finished, make a note of these worries and hatch a plan to deal with them in the coming days or weeks. A disorganised mind stops you from sleeping, but a gentle ‘tidying up’ before bed will help you drift off.


3. Include magnesium and zinc in your diet

These help your muscles to relax and support your nervous system, and have been shown to help with sleep, particularly with people who feel ‘tired but wired’ at bedtime. You can take supplements, or find them in meat, shellfish, lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, dairy or eggs. A sensible portion of whole grain carbs for supper can also aid sleep.


4. Don’t worry about how many hours you get

 Think quality over quantity when it comes to sleep. If you do all of the above and get five hours of good quality, deep sleep, that’s more beneficial to your health than nine hours in bed, spent tossing and turning.

Luke and Jo Gray are offering Telegraph readers 20pc off bespoke 1-on-1 sessions and their online Living Eighty Twenty programme. Use the discount code 20PERCENT on their website www.livingeightytwenty.com or quote in email enquiries to [email protected] 

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