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THE IPS STS – Stretch, Tone & Strengthen

Take your fitness to the next level with the IPS STS workout. This workout was specifically designed to incorporate a few elements of Yoga and Pilates to help you Stretch, Tone & Strengthen your body- all in one routine.

As most of this routine is floor based (you will be kneeling or lying), it is important to have a soft surface to support your body. Indoors, a carpet will do, and outdoors you really should use a yoga mat or something similar for your comfort and safety.

TIP: Bookmark this page for easy access or you can download a copy of the exercises here.

Introduction

If you are worried about doing exercise for medical or health reasons, you should consult with your doctor before doing any exercises!

THE IMPORTANCE OF STRETCHING

You probably have some idea that stretching is good for you. Indeed, it is! Not only does stretching help your muscles relax, but also helps to:

  • Improve muscle weakness.
  • Reduce the risk of injury.
  • Improve overall body posture.

Some important tips:

  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: We are all created differently, with different ranges of motion and strength. You need to learn to tune in to your body’s distress signals and heed those as you stretch. Exercise is something you want to do for your entire life, so it pays to be gentle but consistent with your body.
  • A WORD TO THE GUYS: Flexibility and strength go hand in hand. Strong muscles without a flexible body not only limits what you CAN do with your strength, but also increases your chances of injury while using that strength. All men should incorporate some form of stretching into their fitness routine.
HYDRATION

Your body needs more water than you think. Keep a water bottle handy during any exercise routine. Take small sips throughout. Some people gulp down a glass or 2 of water an hour or 2 before workouts but be careful- this may create stitches- especially during intense workouts or activities like running.

Supplementing your diet with good quality Vitamin and Mineral supplements is a great way to conveniently optimize your nutrient intake. Contact IPS Health & Wellness on 010 140 6700 or info@ipshealth.co.za for guidance on the correct supplements for your needs.

TRAINING SPACE AND SETUP

You need a 2x2M space in your home to use as your workout area. Keep a sweat towel and water handy. Working out in sport shoes, or “tekkies” is recommended, although many people work out barefoot indoors. Do NOT work out in socks, as they tend to be a little slippery and may get you hurt.

The IPS STS routine also lends itself beautifully to training outdoors in nature. You will need a yoga mat, and a flat area in your garden or a safe park area to work out. Training outdoors just makes the whole experience that much more special.

GOAL SETTING

Monitoring your progress over time is critical to keep you motivated!

Some ideas for goal setting & tracking:

  • Tracking how you increase the number of sets of the STS routine you can do.
  • Seeing how many reps of an exercise you can do.
  • Setting a goal for how many times a week you want to train.
  • Measuring weight loss, or cm loss monthly.
  • Completing your first 5k run.

With all of that said.. Have FUN! Working out is your special alone time with your body. Enjoy it. Savor it while you still can!

The Warm-Up

  • The importance of your warmup cannot be overstated! You MUST always do a light warm-up, and in cold weather take a minute or 2 extra.
  • This warm-up sequence should take about 4 minutes.
  • Any warm-up movements are LIGHT- designed to warm you up, so listen to your body and resist moving too vigorously while warming up.

Jog on the spot
Time: 1 Minute

Keep posture and joints loose. Unwind from the day’s stress, or just get your body moving after getting out of bed.

Dip & Back Kick
Time: 30 Seconds

Make sure you get a decent dip, keep your back upright, and hands on your hips.

Alternate legs left & right.

Dip & Reach:
Time: 30 seconds

Make sure you get a decent dip, keep your back upright, and hands on your hips. Turn hips sideways. Reach as far as you can. Alternate left & right side.

Toe Taps:
Sets: 6 each side

Reach ONLY as far down as you comfortably can.. This is a WARMUP! The idea is to warm up the spine, back of the legs, and upper body. Alternate left & right sides.

Shoulder Rolls
Sets: 10 forward and 10 backward

Nice big circles with your elbows, leaning forward a bit. Make 10 forward, and 10 backward circles.

Toe Touches:
Reps: 6

Go ONLY as far down as you comfortably can.. This is a WARMUP! You may bend your legs and back slightly. Return to standing before folding forward again.

Front Kicks:
Reps: 6 each side

Swing your straight leg up as high as comfortable. Keep back as upright as possible. Flex foot back if you’re comfortable doing so.

Hip Openers:
Sets: 6 each side.

Lift, swing, drop, repeat on both sides.

The IPS STS Routine

  • Take a few minutes to read through all the notes on each exercise before doing your first session.
  • LISTEN to your body, and take it easy on yourself, especially in your first few sessions!
  • Beginners can complete the routine 1 to 3 times
  • Advanced workout: 3-6 times

Cat Cow | Sets: 6

  • Make sure your upper legs and arms are vertical, i.e not angled forward or backward, but perpendicular to the floor.
  • When hollowing your back (cow pose), imagine you are trying to pull your hands toward your knees.
    • Your body is contracting inwards, in a sense, with your hands and knees pulling towards each other.
    • Breathe out as you contract and hold while breathing in again.
  • When arching your back (cat pose), you are imagining pushing your hands away from your knees, creating a reverse tension in your body.
    • Breathe out as you arch, and hold as you breathe in.

Dynamic bird-dog | Reps: 12 each side

  • Stretch out opposite arm & leg- really stretching the fingertips and toes out to get a good stretch throughout the length of the body.
  • Bring suspended arm & leg in under your body- try to touch your elbow to the opposite knee: hold the pose there for a second before stretching back out. Breathe out as you bring your arm & leg in under your body.
  • Ensure you maintain balance on the supporting arm & knee- start slowly and speed up your movements as your balance improves.

Bear Plank Hold | Time: 20 Seconds

  • Start from hands & knees on the floor:
    • Place your arms and upper legs so they are perpendicular to the floor.
  • Keep your back straight- avoid arching or hollowing your back- keep a straight spine.
  • Lift your knees about 5cm from the ground and hold that pose.
  • Focus on keeping the abdominal muscles tensed- they are the main support for your body in this position.
  • Remember to keep breathing.

Slow Mountain Climbers | Sets: 12

  • From a nice straight plank pose (whole body in one line- from ankles to toes), bring one knee up to your chest.
  • Important:
    • Do NOT lift your butt while doing the climbers- your body must remain in a straight line.
    • Do not let your toes touch the floor as you bring your knee up.
  • Work up a nice rhythm to turn the climbers into a “climbing jog” as you progress.

Elbow Plank | Time: 20 Seconds

  • Keep your body in a straight line- from your ankles to your ears.
  • Focus on keeping the abdominal muscles tensed- they are the main support for your body in this position.
  • Try not to drop your body “into” your shoulders- keep the shoulder square and tense.
  • Keep breathing.

Downward Facing Dog | Time: 20 Seconds

  • You want to work towards creating the most perfect triangle with your body:
    • Keep your spine straight- not arched or rounded.
    • Imagine your navel reaching up to the roof, and your upper back down to the floor.
    • Keep your legs and arms as straight as possible.
    • Work your heels toward the floor, and your tailbone toward the roof.
  • Keep breathing.

Chair Pose | Time: 20 Seconds

  • Standing upright, with your feet pointing forward, lift your arms up above your head with palms facing each other.
  • “Sit” back, as if there was a chair behind you. Keep your back straight and move your butt backward- not your knees forward.
  • Check to make sure your knees are not further forward than your toes.
  • Shift your weight back to your knees.
  • Sink further down by pushing the butt backward, taking care your knees don’t drift forward and that you don’t lean too far forward.
  • Stay as upright as possible.

Modified Boat Pose | Time: 20 Seconds

  • From seated, lift your legs until your shins are parallel to the floor.
  • Keeping your back straight, extend your arm past your knees- not touching your legs.
  • Hold the pose while balancing.

Supine Leg splits | Reps: 12

  • Lie flat on your back and raise your legs together so the soles of your feet face up to the roof.
  • Spread your arms slightly away from your body, palms down- to stabilize your body.
  • Keeping your legs straight and your feet flexed (not pointed) do an “air split” as wide as you can.
  • Make sure your legs don’t fall forward too much as you widen them.
  • Return legs back to top, with feet together.

Glute Bridge | Reps: 12

  • Lie on your back with your feet drawn up to the body so you can touch your heels
  • Lift your torso off the ground, until your knee, hip and shoulders are in one line. Breathe out.
  • Tense your glutes (butt muscles) as they form the support for your body during this move.
  • Hold this pose for three seconds, while tensing the glutes, before lowering your body to the floor again. Breathe in.
  • Tip: Count as follows: ONE, two three, TWO, two three, THREE, two three etc..

Supine Leg Raises | Reps: 12

  • Lying flat on your back, hold your feet together and raise as high as you can.
    • Keep legs as straight as possible
    • Flex or point the toes.
    • Support your back by placing your hands under your bum if needed.
  • Breathe out as you lift your legs. Hold for a count of three, then slowly release your legs back to the floor for a count of three.
  • Tip: Count as follows: ONE, two three, TWO, two three, THREE, two three etc..

Lying Side Leg Raises | Reps: 12 Each Side

  • Lying on your side, bend your bottom leg slightly to help keep your balance.
  • Lifting your top leg, make sure the toes are pointed down, as high as comfortable.

The Cool Down

Your body needs time to relax and assimilate the training session into muscle memory. A great way to do this is to give yourself a mini back massage, and to do a few minutes of Corpse Pose: It is usually performed at the end of every yoga session, and has the following reported benefits:

  • Relaxes, aligns, and calms the body and mind.
  • Allows your body time to assimilate the exercises you just did.
  • Helps with concentration, memory, stress, blood pressure and many other bodily functions.

Rolling on Back (Spinal Rocking) | Reps: 6-10

This variation of spinal rocking is a great way to improve spine mobility and give your back a nice self-massage.

  • Start by balancing your body while holding your knees.
  • Rock slightly forward to build momentum for your rollback.
  • Rock your body backwards so you roll up to your shoulders.
  • Important: this is a gentle rocking action, and not a “tug and pull” on your body. I may take some time to get your rocking momentum figured out, so be patient and start with small rocking movements until you “get it”.

Corpse Pose | Time: 3-15 mins.

The final pose in your routine, is the Corpse pose. This is because you want to relax your body completely and utterly- every part- like a corpse.

How to do your Corpse Pose:

  • Lie flat on your back, breathing easily with eyes closed.
  • Try to relax all parts of your body- you can mentally check each part from toes to head. Move any part that feels tense or out of symmetry slightly to relax and align it.
  • Relax the feet so they flop to the side.
  • Try to find symmetry between your left and right body parts:
    • Hands equally spaced from your body, palms up.
    • Feet equally spread.
    • Equal weight on each butt cheek.
    • Equal weight on each shoulder blade.
  • Relax the shoulders, neck, and face.
  • Keep breathing easily and naturally.
  • Once you are satisfied that there is no tension or asymmetry in your body, close your eyes.
  • Start with 2-3 mins of Corpse Pose. You can later go longer- up to 15min if you so desire.

Important information about the Corpse Pose:
Your mind should be tuned in to your body during the Corpse Pose. This is your private 1-1 time connecting with your body.

Try and avoid thinking about things other than your body, to do this you may want to:

  • Imagine the breath flowing in and out of your lungs.
  • Imagine how the nourishing oxygen from your breath is transported from your lungs to the rest of your body.
  • Imagine how your blood is carrying nutrition and oxygen throughout your body.

Marvel at the amazingness of your body as you visualize different parts, how they work, how they feel now, how they’re connected to other parts.

End off with a quick thought of gratitude for your body, and your ability to have completed your exercise routine.

Sit up slowly and open your eyes.

Next Steps

  • Focus on “finding the work” in each exercise- perfect your form to find the maximum work for your body in each exercise. It helps to have a mirror or partner to help you correct any form mistakes.
  • Repeat the Main Workout twice or three times, with 1min rest in-between sets.
  • Increase reps for each exercise- do more of certain exercises or of all the exercises.
  • Find a fitness trainer to help you build a program specifically for your needs and goals.

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