Tone and strengthen your arms, shoulders and upper back with this at-home workout from Sonia Kruger.
Sonia Kruger's upper-body workout
Perform 2–10 repetitions of each movement before moving onto the next exercise. Repeat the entire sequence five times.
Sonia credits her years of professional dancing for her strong, toned arms.
“You hold your arms up in the air for long enough and you’ll develop arms like that, too,” she says, laughing.
For the upper-body workout she’s demonstrating here, Sonia teamed up with her personal trainer, Kyle Frankenfeld. All you need to get started is some space, a chair and her favourite piece of exercise equipment: a resistance band.
“I like the band because it’s so transportable. You can even put it in your handbag, so it doesn’t matter where you go, you can use the band for resistance. Plus, it’s easier to get your hands on than kettle bells, dumbbells or weights. Not everybody has a home gymnasium. Most people are working out like me, in their living room, so you don’t want a whole lot of paraphernalia everywhere. That’s why I think a band is a really good tool to have.”
Always speak to your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program.
Banded overhead tricep extension
Stand on the band with feet hip-width apart, holding the band with both hands above your head. Bend at your elbows to lower the band behind your head, keeping elbows pointed up. Contract your triceps and raise your hands back to the starting position. Try to move your upper arms and elbows as little as possible in both directions.
This movement is designed to work your upper back muscles, by retracting your shoulder blades. Start standing with your arms out in front of you, with your palms facing down and pinkies facing outwards. In a controlled motion, pull the band apart, keeping your hands at shoulder height and arms straight until they form a T-shape out to the sides. Slowly return to the starting position, keeping your arms straight.
Step onto your band, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Lean forward, keeping your back straight. Using both hands, bend your elbows to pull the band towards your sides. Aim your hands towards the bottom of your ribcage and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Return to an extended arm position and repeat.
Resistance bands come in a number of different tension levels, so be sure to choose the one that best suits your strength.
Band shoulder press
Stand on your band with your feet shoulder-width apart. Holding one end of the band in each hand, bring your hands up directly in front of your shoulders. Slowly move your hands overhead until your arms are straight. Return to the starting position with control, then repeat.
Chair tricep dips
Sit on the chair with your hands next to your hips and your feet flat. Lift your body up and forward, until it’s just in front of the chair. Bend your arms at the elbows, lowering your body towards the ground. Try to keep your back straight and close to the chair. Once your elbows are close to 90 degrees, push into the chair with your hands and straighten your arms to return to the starting position.
For a tougher version of chair tricep dips, do it with straight legs, keeping them out in front of you on the diagonal.
Push-up to pike
Perform a push-up, aiming to get your chest as close to the ground as possible while keeping a straight line from the back of your head to your heels. As you press out of the push-up, push your hips upwards, keeping your legs as straight as possible. Finish with your head between your shoulders, in a piked, downward-dog position.
She has a background as a professional dancer, but these days Sonia Kruger sees dance as a fun way to keep fit – and she thinks you should, too. That’s why she’s launched an online health and fitness program called Strictly You, that’s based around easy dance routines that you can learn in your living room.
“If you want to be a fitness warrior, there are a lot of places you can go to for that hardcore training, but it’s never really appealed to me,” she says. “Dancing made me fit, but it didn’t actually feel like I was exercising.” To create the program, Sonia worked with an expert team of dance-loving friends, including Aric Yegudkin and Masha Belash, who she met while filming Dancing With The Stars, as well as Giselle Peacock, who Sonia calls “one of the best dancers in the world”. A new workout is uploaded to strictlyyou.com.au each day and there are a mix of dance workouts, plus cardio and strength-training routines created by Sonia’s personal trainer, Kyle Frankenfeld.
“You can be an absolute beginner, or you can be someone like me who has danced professionally,” says Sonia. “It’s a bit like yoga – you can make it as challenging as you want it to be.”
Along with the fitness benefits, Sonia says that she’s grown to appreciate the way dance can help her relieve stress. “You’ve got some great music playing – you can get a little bit lost in that world of dance and music.”
It’s so much fun that Sonia says her five-year-old daughter Maggie (and her pooch Teddy) will sometimes join in. “If you’re a mum at home, you can get the kids involved, too.”