Steve Ilg's Wholistic Fitness for the Weekend Warrior

Los Angeles-based coach and author Steve Ilg (Total Body Transformation, Hyperion 2004) has spent the last 20 years honing a workout program that combines the best of strength, focus, balance, endurance, and flexibility for athletes of any stripe. Stick to his program below Monday through Friday, and you should be able to tackle anything you want to do come the weekend.

MONDAY
Yoga Block Full Body Workout
Focus: Strength

Notes: Try to breathe through your nose throughout the workout. If you start to feel lightheaded, go ahead and start breathing through your mouth. Move through each superset below without resting, and limit your recovery time between each superset to one minute of nasal breathing.

Superset 1
1.) Bent-Leg Crunches with yoga block held between the knees for 1 minute.
Lay back on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Clasp your hands behind your head and keep your elbows pointing out to the sides. Holding a yoga block between your knees, lift your legs up until your thighs are perpendicular to the ground and your shins are parallel to the floor (see illustration). To start, curl your shoulders off the floor and move them towards your knees as far as you can go. Slowly uncurl your shoulders back to the ground. Repeat for one minute.

2.) Extended-Leg Crunches with yoga block held between the ankles for 1 minute.
Lay back on the floor and squeeze a yoga block with your ankles. Holding the block, extend your legs straight up in the air so they your torso and legs make a 90-degree angle. Clasp your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing out to either side (see illustration). Start by curling your shoulders up off the floor and toward your knees while keeping your legs straight and holding the block with your ankles. Slowly lower back down to the floor. Repeat for one minute.

Rest for 1 minute.

Superset 2
1) Bent-Leg Twist Crunches with yoga block held between the knees for 1 minute
Same start position as Bent-Leg Crunches above. To begin, lift and curl your right shoulder and right elbow towards your left knee. Slowly lower yourself back down. On the next crunch, lift and curl your left shoulder and left elbow towards your right knee. Repeat sequence for one minute.

2) Extended-Leg Twist Crunches with yoga block held between the ankles for 1 minute.
Same start position as Extended-Leg Crunches above, but twist your left elbow toward your right knee, alternating elbow and knee each time. Repeat sequence for one minute.

Rest for 1 minute.

Superset 3
1) Yogi Push-ups with three yoga blocks using the Staccato Technique.
Lie face down on the floor and squeeze a yoga block between your thighs. Put two blocks face down right outside your shoulders. Position your hands squarely on the blocks as if you were going to do a push-up, but keep your elbows close to the body (see illustration). Slowly push yourself up while keeping the back of your head, back, butt, and legs in a straight line. Hold yourself with your arms extended for 10 seconds, then do push-ups for 10 seconds, then hold yourself up with arms extended for 10 seconds. Do push-ups for 10 seconds and hold your body in the top position for 10 seconds. Finish with 10 more seconds of push-ups.

2) Downward-Dog Squats with three yoga blocks using the Staccato Technique.
Get down on all-fours with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips so they're perpendicular to the floor. Your heels point to the sky while your toes are curled under. Place and squeeze a yoga block between your thighs. Place two yoga blocks facedown underneath your hands. Once stabilized, push your body back and up until your arms and legs are fully extended. Let your head drop between your arms. Your body should look like an inverted "V" with your butt in the air (see illustration (a)). Hold this TOP position for 10 seconds then bend and SLOWLY lower your knees as if you were trying to touch the ground with your kneecaps, but only dip down as far as possible while maintaining a flat back (see illustration (b)). Repeat these squats for 10 seconds, then hold in the TOP position for 10 seconds. Do another round of squats for 10 seconds. Stop in the TOP position for 10 seconds and then finish with 10 more seconds of squats.

Rest for 1 minute
Repeat the Superset one more time
Rest for 1 minute


Superset 4
1) Squats with three yoga blocks using the Staccato Technique.
While standing, place and squeeze a yoga block between your knees. Holding a yoga block along its narrow side edge in each hand, lift your arms straight overhead until you can squeeze the edges of the yoga blocks together. Drop down into a squat as deeply as possible while still being able to keep your torso and arms vertical and hold this BOTTOM position for 10 seconds (see illustration). Straighten your legs and then squat up and down for 10 seconds. Stop in the BOTTOM position for 10 seconds, then squat up and down for 10 seconds. Hold in the BOTTOM position for 10 seconds and finish with 10 seconds of squats.

2) Lateral Reed Reps with three yoga blocks
Stand upright while squeezing a yoga block between your thighs. Grab a yoga block along its narrow side edge in each hand and lift your arms straight overhead until you can squeeze the edges of the yoga blocks together. Now flex from your waist to the right as far as possible, keeping your legs and hips perpendicular to the floor (see illustration). Don't let your hips pop forward or backwards of your feet while you hold the flex for 30 seconds. Then flex to the left for 30 seconds.

Rest 1 minute.
Repeat the Superset one more time.
Rest 1 minute.


Superset 5
1) Bear-Squat Biceps with two yoga blocks
With your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Grab a yoga block in each hand. Bend forward and press your right triceps into your thigh and turn your right palm, which is still holding the block, upwards. Press the block in your left hand into the block held by your right hand (see illustration). For 30 seconds, slowly curl your right hand towards your shoulder while simultaneously pressing down with your left hand. Reverse arms and repeat for 30 seconds.

2) Extended Yogi Squats with three yoga blocks
Stand while squeezing a yoga block between your knees. Then hold two yoga blocks in your hands, squeezing them together with outstretched arms held out in front of your body, arms parallel to the floor. Keeping your torso as vertical as possible, squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor (see illustration). Slowly rise back to standing. Repeat for one minute.

Rest for one minute.
Repeat Superset one more time


TUESDAY
Focus: Aerobic Conditioning

Notes: This workout can be completed on any piece of cardio equipment: a stationary bike, rowing machine, elliptical trainer, stair-stepper, or treadmill.

• Start with 10 minutes at a very easy pace that allows you to breathe through your nose and hold a conversation.
• Go hard for 1 minute.
• For 1 minute, switch to a pace that keeps you breaking a sweat, but allows you to hold a conversation. Breathe deeply through your nose.
• Go hard for 1 minute.
• Slow to a conversational pace for 1 minute.
• Go hard for 1 minute.
• Slow to a conversational pace for 1 minute.
• Go hard for 4 minutes.
• Slow down to a very easy pace for an 8-minute cool-down.

WEDNESDAY
Focus: Core Strength & Flexibility

Ab Enduro Set
Note: Complete the following in 4 minutes flat.

• 1 minute of Bent Leg Crunches (see Monday's workout)
• 1 minute of Bent Leg Crunches twisting your left elbow to your right knee
• 1 minute of Bent Leg Crunches twisting your right elbow to your left knee
• 1 minute of Bent Leg Crunches performed at twice the rate of the first minute's crunches.

Yoga
Note: Throughout the following movements, breathe through your nose.

1) High Performance Yoga Sun Salutations
Begin by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands pressed together in prayer with your thumbs touching the center of your chest. Inhale while you bring your hands above your head. Exhale while bending forward and try to touch the ground on either side of your feet. Inhale as you look up and flatten your back (you hands can come off the ground). Exhale into a forward bend. Inhale while coming all the way back up to standing with your hands held overhead. Exhale and come back to the beginning pose. Repeat two more times.

2) High Performance Yoga Sun Salutations, Series A Modified
Begin by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands pressed together in prayer with your thumbs touching the center of your chest. Inhale while you bring your hands above your head. Exhale while bending forward and try to touch the ground on either side of your feet. Inhale as you look up and flatten your back (you hands can come off the ground). Exhale into a forward bend. Inhale as you look up and flatten your back. Exhale into a forward bend. Inhale as you look up and flatten your back. Exhale as you place your palms on the floor while walking your feet back into a push-up position. With your now extended and your heels, butt, back, and head forming a straight line, inhale. Exhale as you lower yourself until your elbows are even with your torso-about a fist's width off the floor. Inhale as you roll onto the tops of your feet and push yourself upwards with your arms while pushing your hips down toward the floor so your back arches. Exhale while returning to the previous position, the bottom of a push-up. Inhale as you press your body up with your arms. Now, push yourself back onto your heels so that your body makes an inverted "V" with your butt in the air your legs and arms straight. Hold this position for several breaths. Inhale as you bend your knees to your chest, then exhale and walk your feet forward until they're between your hands. Inhale as you straighten your legs, look forward and straighten your back. Exhale into a forward bend. Inhale as you come back up to standing with your arms finishing overhead. Exhale and return your hands to prayer with your thumbs touching the center of your chest. Repeat the cycle two more times.

3) Extended Foot Pose
Assume a wide-legged stance, about four to five feet wide, with your toes pointing slightly inward. Place your hands on your hips and flex your thighs and exhale while you bend forward and reach your hands under your legs and place your palms on the floor, fingers facing forward. Inhale while looking up, raising your chest, and flattening your back. Exhale and bend forward while reaching your hands further behind your legs. Keep your leg muscles flexed and try to bend deeper into the position as you hold the pose for one minute.

4) Hero Pose
Kneel down with your knees pressed together and your feet splayed outward. Slowly sit back down so that your hips come to rest between your upturned feet. Place your hands on your knees as you concentrate on sitting erect and tall. Breathe deeply through your nose for one minute.

5) Seated Angle Pose
Sit upright with your legs spread wide. Flex your legs and feet so your toes curl back towards your torso. Inhale, drop your shoulders and raise your chest upwards. Exhale and bend forward as far as possible while maintaining a straight back. Inhale and sit back up. Exhale and bend forward again. Breathe deeply through your nose for one minute.

6) Supported All-Parts Pose
Lie on your back. Bend your knees and using your hands, bring your heels to your butt about hip-width apart. Squeeze your shoulders together underneath you and raise your hips off the floor as high as you can. Clasp your palms together underneath your torso and squeeze your hands together as you use your legs to push your torso towards your head for one minute. Release your hands out to the side and slowly lower your torso back to the floor from neck to lower back one vertebrae at a time.

7) Corpse Pose
Lie back with your legs fully extended. Relax and let your feet fall out to either side. Move your arms out from your sides so they make a 45-degree angle with your torso. Tuck your chin to your chest and then slowly lower it back down to the ground. Breathe deeply through your nose and relax in this position for five minutes, while consciously releasing all the tension from your body.

THURSDAY
Focus: Aerobic Conditioning

Notes: This workout can be completed on any piece of cardio equipment: a stationary bike, rowing machine, elliptical trainer, stair-stepper, or treadmill.

• 10 minutes at a very easy pace
• Step-off the machine and squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keeping your torso as vertical as possible, hold this position for one minute.
• 5 minutes of cardio at a pace that allows you to hold a conversation, no harder
• Step-off the machine and do one minute of squat jumps where you lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the ground and then spring up off the floor.
• 5 minutes of cardio at a conversational pace
• Step-off the machine and squat and hold this position for 10 seconds, then do 10 jump squats and then hold the squatted position for 10 seconds. Do 10 jump squats and then hold the squatted position for 10 seconds. Finish with 10 jump squats.
• 5 minutes of cardio at a conversational pace
• Step-off the machine and doe 45 seconds of side-to-side hops done while holding your hands together in prayer.
• Rest 15 seconds
• Do 20 seconds of knee tuck jumps where you jump up as high as you can while simultaneously bringing your knees to your chest. Cross your arms in front of your chest, hooking your thumbs under your armpits.
• Rest 40 seconds
• 45 seconds of side-to-side hops
• Rest 15 seconds
• 20 seconds of knee tuck jumps
• 8 minutes of cardio at a very easy pace.

FRIDAY
Focus: Mental Focus

Meditation
First thing in the morning, sit cross-legged on the floor with your shoulders relaxed and with your chest pressing upwards. This will help you keep your torso perpendicular to the floor. Place your hands in your lap. Close your eyes and breathe through your nose. Start counting each breath. When you reach 50 breaths, re-cross your legs so that the foot that was previously on the floor is now resting on your leg. Count 50 breaths and re-cross your legs. Repeat cycle for 10 minutes. If your mind wanders, return to the number where you last lost focus.

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