Dr Leong's Workout Series

Dr Leong Lee San

Abdominal Crunch

Strong abdominals help strengthen the trunk and back. Lie flat on the back with bent knees. With hands by sides of head concentrate and contract abdominal muscles thereby lifting the shoulders off the floor as high as possible. Hold for a second and return to start position. Repeat as many times as possible. 

Back Extension Rack

This simple machine is found in most gyms and excellent for the lower back. It not only helps strengthen the lower back muscles it also helps stretch the lumbar spine. Start by resting the pelvis on the padded rest in front and anchor the heels under the foot rest behind so that the legs are inclined at about 45°. Inhale and let your upper body bend over and hang loose. Then exhale and lift up your upper body slowly by contracting your lower back muscles and straightening your spine, ending with  your upper body and lower limbs in a straight line. Hold for a second while you exhale and return to the starting position. Do up to 15 reps and when stronger can increase resistance by holding a weight with your hands.    


Back Extension on floor (Strengthen lower back)

Lie on the stomach prone on the floor with arms by sides. Consciously contract lower back muscles and buttocks, lifting both the upper body and legs off the floor at the same time. Hold for a second and return to the starting position. Repeat up to 20 times. In the beginning you may lift one leg at a time, then both legs only and use your hands to help lift the upper body. When stronger, may hold hands behind the head. 

Reversed Knee Extension

An excellent exercise for the knees especially in strengthening the vastus medialis, the lower inner head of the front thigh muscles which helps to control the proper tracking of the knee-cap. 

Start by sitting deeply on a firm bench such that the back of knees rest on the edge of the bench. Hook your feet under a firm support. The bench should be placed at a distance from the foot support so that the knees are bent at an angle while seated. Inhale deeply and then exhale while straightening the knees, concentrating on contracting the front thigh muscles, thereby lifting the buttocks and upper body off the bench. Keep the trunk upright. Hold for a second and return to a seated position while inhaling. Do 8 - 15 reps and you can increase the intensity by using a lower bench and placing it further from the foot support.

Knee Extension Machine

If you have access to a gym with this machine, this knee extension exercise gives similar benefits as above. 

Seat deeply with the back of knees resting on the edge of the seat and trunk upright with lower back resting on the back support. Start with knees bent at about 45° and straighten completely by extending knees slowly and evenly. Hold for a second and return to the starting position. Do 8 -15 reps with resistance high enough so that the last rep needs maximum effort. Make sure to keep form - do not swing legs or lean forward.

Neck Extension

An excellent and safe neck strengthening exercise.

Lie supine on back and rest head on a support about 20 cm high so that the neck is bent at an angle at the start. Inhale deeply and then exhale while extending neck backwards and straightening spine, pushing the back of the head strongly against the support and lifting the shoulders and upper part of the trunk off the floor. Hold for a second and return to start position while inhaling. Do up to 20 reps till failure. Can increase resistance by putting weights on the chest. Be sure not to rotate the head backwards and keep the chin down. An alternative is to use a theraband as the resistance wrapped round the back of the head while seated. Start with neck flexed and then extend neck backwards against resistance of the theraband making sure not to rotate head up but keep chin down and straighten the spine. Therabands are supplied in varying strengths so that as you get stronger you can use higher tension ones.

Heel Raise

Many, especially the elderly, walk slowly because of weak calf muscles. A simple exercise which can be done at home is excellent in increasing calf strength and returning the bounce to your walk. 

Start by standing upright with the forefeet resting on a ledge or a  step and the heels hanging free and hands holding on to a support. Let the heels fall as far down as possible and then lift your body up by plantar flexing your ankles and standing on your toes. Hold for a second and return to the starting position. Do as many reps as possible till failure. Alternatively, you can increase the effect by doing one leg at a time.

Seated Chest Press

This is an optional fun exercise which you can do to add variety to your routine. It will strengthen your chest and shoulders giving you that broad shoulder and "stick out chest " look.. Seated on the machine's seat start with hands holding the lever handles and the arms bent at elbows. After taking a deep breath, exhale as you use force and extend your arms in front, straightening your elbows completely. Hold for a second and then inhale as you return to the starting position. Do 8 to 15 reps. Increase weights as you get stronger.