Head to any gym studio or game, and the first move you will probably see will likely be people simply bending at the waist and reaching for their toes.
To maximize efficiency, why not take your stretch to the next level and transform it into a total-body exercise?
That is where the inchworm exercise comes in, an exercise that begins as a lower back and hamstring stretch—something all older men require—but also helps your upper body and your core more than you may believe as you walk your hands into a plank pushup posture.
To do the inchworm exercise, stand upright with your feet around shoulder width apart. Hinge at your waist to touch your toes without also bending at your knees. If you are like many older men, you might not be able to touch your toes. If so, you can bend at your knees, but just enough to get your fingers to touch the floor.
Once you reach the floor, walk with your hands out slowly to a plank spot so your hands are right underneath both your shoulders. In the plank posture hold this for a few moments, squeezing your abs, glutes and shoulder blades, then walk with your hands back and then go to a standing position.
One of the important parts of the inchworm exercise is keeping your butt high and steady along with your legs as straight as you can while you walk with your hands out into a plank, then back to a standing posture. This will maximize your lower back and hamstring stretch. Don’t worry about rounding your back when you go down—since you are not moving under load, your lower back is not at risk.
Another important thing to remember is to keep your shoulders and knees square to the floor as you walk your hands forward. As you are walking out with one hand at a time, you are grappling with anti-rotation, so your core should work harder to keep this balance. The goal is to minimize any twisting and/or weight going from side to side. Walk your hands slowly, too—I have seen people do this as if it were a race to see how many reps they could do. You are better off taking your time to get the most you can of the movement. Lastly, when you come to the standing spot, squeeze your glutes, your shoulder blades, and your core to gather yourself.
The inchworm is a simple move but it is challenging when done right. Start with eight reps for three sets. If you can do these comfortably, increase your plank isometric hold time or even add in pushups.
Author: Steven Sinclaire