Strength

You don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzneger or the Incredible Hulk to play good softball, not that improved strength and muscle tone wouldn’t help. If you want to become a gym rat and spend hours working out, you’re welcome to do that—it’ll probably help— as long as you include some stretching and flexibility exercises along with your muscle-toning regimen. Tight muscles look great at the beach but aren’t much good for softball. Most of us don’t have the time or inclination to pump iron for hours, so the purpose of this paper is to give you some ideas for strength training that you can accomplish quickly without working up a real sweat. Pick the ones you like or need and do 20 reps each day, always at a quick pace and without a break. You can do all the below in less than 10 minutes.
PUSHUPS. Benefit: Pushups probably strengthen more muscles than any other single callisthenic. This exercise will benefit all arm muscles, back, abs, chest, and even legs. Method: Place your hands on the floor and make a bridge to your toes. Keeping your back perfectly straight, lower yourself to the floor until your chin, chest, or tummy touches. Then push back up to a locked-arm position. Variation One: Change the distance between hands to exercise different muscle groups; closer together emphasizes chest development while wider spacing is more for arm development. Variation Two: Push up on your fingertips instead of on your hands to enhance the effect by lengthening the distance of the exercise (also strengthens your hands). Variation Three: Do ten pushups with your right foot slightly off the ground and another ten with the left foot elevated (torsion generated firms lower abs and glutes).SIT-UPS. Benefit: Sit-ups firm up the upper abs and strengthen the back. Method: Sit on the floor or ground with legs bent and feet flat. Hook your toes under a piece of furniture or have someone hold your feet. Clasping your hands behind your head or across your chest, lie back, raise yourself to about a 45-degree angle, and then go back down. Caution: Do not pull excessively on your neck as you could dislocate vertebrae. Also, never do straight-legged sit-ups, as this can be very hard on your lower back.

BICYCLES. Benefit: Great for the abs and legs, better than crunches for the entire torso. Method: Lie flat on the floor with legs extended and hands clasped behind your head. Bring your right knee toward your chest, and try to touch it with your left elbow. Return your right leg to the ground (straighten leg without touching the ground for best effect) and simultaneously bring your left knee toward your right elbow. Once you get into a rhythm, it’s a lot like riding a bicycle. Caution: Do not put undue pressure on your neck by pulling too hard toward the knee.

LEG RAISES. Benefit: Strengthens lower abs and all leg muscles, especially those that support the knee joint (recommended by an orthopedist). Method: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your right foot and extend your leg until it is straight, and then elevate to a 45-degree angle, all the while keeping your foot turned to the outside as far as possible. Repeat with your left leg or do both simultaneously (even better for lower abs).

WRIST CURLS. Benefit: Strengthens wrists and hands. Method: Stand with your forearms parallel to the ground and curl weights (five pounds is about right) with your wrists through their full range of motion. Don’t move your forearms. Variations: Do 20 reps with your palms facing up and 20 more with your palms facing down.

ARM CURLS. Benefit: Strengthens all arm muscles. Method: Using the same weights from the previous exercise, stand with arms at your sides. Alternately raise the weights to your shoulder and return.

ANGELS. Benefit: Shoulder and upper arm muscles. Method: Again, using the same weights from above start with hands at your sides but this time move the weights laterally until they are straight above your head. Be sure to spread your feet slightly for balance and keep your arms straight throughout.