"This exercise is one of Oprah's favorites," says trainer Bob Greene. "It makes her feel strong and powerful." Greene put together an intense six-week regimen for Oprah, tougher than her year-round program and designed to get quick results.
"Oprah used to be not so crazy about weight training, but now she really enjoys it," he says. "I think she finds it a kind of meditation." Typically, this move would come toward the end of her workout. "The general rule is that you work the bigger muscle groups first—the legs and back—to warm them up," Greene explains, "then finish with the arms. That's especially important for beginners; there's more chance for injury if you start with the small muscles."
"Squats are very efficient," Greene notes. "They work not only the buttocks but also the quadriceps—the muscles at the front of the thighs—and, as you go down slowly, resisting gravity, the hamstrings, at the back of the thighs."
Oprah is using a Smith press, a contraption that supports the weight if you lose your grip. Tips from Greene: Don't sit too low; that puts pressure on the knees. Keeping the toes pointed outward also helps protect the knees.
"Don't fall for the myth that you can increase breast size by doing presses; you can't," Greene says. "The breasts are made up of glands, not muscles. But you can train all the chest muscles supporting the breasts. You tone the muscles of the chest with exercises like this, and that makes everything look perky."
Shaping your upper body with weight training does two great things, Greene points out: "It's good for your posture—and when you add tone and shape to your shoulders and lats, your waist and hips look trimmer."
Here's a direct route to the oblique muscles. "They're the stabilizers of your torso," Greene says. "Strong obliques ensure good posture, and they allow the rest of your workout to be more effective." Oprah is enthusiastic about this move.
"The thing about each one of these exercises," she says, "is that the more you do them, the better you get. It's quite an accomplishment to see and feel your body getting stronger. You'll start to notice a difference after about three weeks."
"A lot of people overdo one exercise," Greene says. "It's important to remember to balance your training, working the muscles on both sides of a joint. Don't work the biceps without working the triceps; don't work the quadriceps without working the hamstrings."
"Everybody has a gorgeous set of triceps and abs," Greene says. "The trouble is that in some people, they're hidden under body fat."
You can do triceps extensions all day long, Greene says, but nothing's going to happen unless you also lose body fat. "There's no such thing as spot-reducing," he says. "You can't tell your body to draw energy only from the fat on your arms and nowhere else. Great results come from trimming fat as you train muscles."
"Oprah hated these when she started doing them ten years ago," Greene recalls. "But now she can do them at the toughest incline. She has perfect form. Notice that she's got her chin up; the mistake that most people make is rolling their chin down to their chest, which creates the risk of neck injury."
Abdominal muscles respond well to daily training, according to Greene. "When they're done properly," he says, "crunches can help align the spine."
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