Have you finished those free download e-books yet? Why not? Too many? No time? Or maybe you’ve gotten bored with the last e-book workout and you need a new one. I like variety and have several options for each major muscle group that can be done while reading at home in my living room. No more excuses to get behind on either your reading or your exercise!
Equipment: E-reader, exercise tubing, stability ball, tables of varying heights for reading in different positions. Exercise mat if floor is not carpeted.
The same guidelines apply as in the last workout, and I’ll repeat them here for those who have forgotten or who missed that post.
If you have an e-reader on your laptop, it will stand up by itself and be easier to look at during standing exercises, but overall a small e-reader or tablet will work best and be more comfortable to handle for some of the walking or lying-down work. Enlarge the fonts before starting your workout. For best results, plan to do this workout on alternate days three times a week. If you’re not sure how to do something correctly, err on the side of safety and caution. It’s hard to read if you’re on painkillers.
A reminder on good form: One rep of an exercise should take four to six seconds. The slower you go the harder you’ll work, and you’ll also read more since the workout will take longer. Rather than count reps—since you are focusing on a book— work to what’s called “voluntary fatigue.” If you feel as though you could go on forever, either it’s a really good book or the resistance is too light.
You sometimes may have to take a tiny break in the middle of a set to turn a page. It’s okay. You’ll be able to do an extra rep because of it.
Warm-up: Straight-line walking lunges. Make sure the space is clear and then slowly walk, dipping one knee to touch behind the heel of the other foot, bending both knees to around a ninety-degree angle. (You will get really good at flexing your joints to ninety-degree angles in this workout.) You will have to change directions a few times to get a good long set in. Yes, you can read while you do this. You’re going slowly. You’re in your own home. You cleared the space first.
Pushups on ball: Put the e-reader in the floor and the ball under your feet, ankles, knees or thighs, depending on your core and upper body strength. The further the ball is from the working muscles—chest and arms and core—the harder this will be. The ball under the shoelace part of your foot will be the hardest position. Keep your spine neutral and your head in line with your spine as you execute pushups to failure. Don’t fall on your e-book. Stop one rep short of that.
Seated rows: Sit on the floor. Wrap the middle of one of the heavier pieces of resistance tubing around your feet or around the leg of piece of furniture that won’t move, making sure you have equal lengths on both sides, essentially a rope for each arm to pull. If you have tight hamstrings you may need to sit on a cushion or a folded towel to avoid slouching. These two rowing moves should be done with super-perfect posture to avoid lower back strain and to fully engage the upper and mid-back muscles. Prop the e-reader up in front of you. (I put it against the leg of the coffee table and have the tubing around my feet.) Sitting in an L position, pull with bent elbows. For the first set, draw your hands toward your hips with your elbows tucked close to your sides. For the second set lift the elbows and squeeze the shoulder blades together as you pull back.
Lateral raises: Place the e-reader on a higher surface, like a bookshelf or a counter. Tip it up for better reading. Stand in the middle of a length of the lighter-weight tubing and grasp the handles palms down. With your elbows flexed at a 90 degree angle lift the whole arm in one flat piece, without twisting the hands higher or lower than the elbows.
Biceps curls are done in the same reading position, e- reader on the higher surface, though you may need to change to heavier tubing. With elbows tucked and shoulders stable, lift your hands toward your shoulders without any motion in the shoulder joint or the spine, only the elbow joint.
Overhead triceps extensions. With the e-reader still in the same place, stand about one third to one fourth of the way from the end of a length of tubing and hold the long part overhead, with the tubing running up your back. Make sure you’ve got it under your heel, so it doesn’t slide through your arch and snap you. With your elbow aimed toward the celling bend it and drop your hand toward your shoulder blades, then straighten without moving the upper arm—it stays vertical— and pull the tubing taut. Change arms.
Quads: E-reader on the floor in front of you. Elbows on the floor, one ankle on the ball, other leg floating free and straight, lift to a plank position and roll the ball slowly in and out without losing your neutral spine. You are bending and straightening your knee to roll the ball. This is very, very hard and will kill your quads so fast you won’t read much on this exercise. It also works your core. Lie on the floor and read for a moment to recover. Change legs.
Glutes: Place your head and neck and just the very upper part of your upper back on the ball. Keep the fingertips of one hand touching the floor for balance while the other hand holds the e-reader. Bend your knees at a 90 degree angle and keep your spine neutral. Lift one leg. For maximum resistance keep it straight out; for less, place the lifted leg’s ankle on the working leg’s thigh. Now, start the exercise. Lower your butt, almost touching the floor, without rolling the ball and lift back up very slowly. If you can’t get eight reps with one leg, practice with two legs, both feet on the floor, until you can do it one-legged.
Hamstrings: Lie face down with the ball sitting on the backs of your thighs, e-reader on the floor in front of you. Prop up a short way on your elbows so you can read. If you have a small bottom and the ball might roll over it, use one hand to keep the ball in place as you squeeze your heels into the ball, pressing your pelvis into the floor and slightly lifting your knees. The ball will be jammed between your heels and your buttocks. Keep knees and heels and hips in one line, all joints in same plane. It goes like this in four steps: heels dig into ball and stay; pelvis presses down into floor while knees lift an inch; hold the squeeze; release. Your hamstrings will be surprised at how intense this is for such a small movement.
Inner thigh: lie on your back with the ball between your knees, e-book in one hand, other hand keeping the ball from shooting forward into your face, legs lifted, 90-degree angle at the hip joints, knees straight if hamstrings permit, bent if they don’t. Squeeze the ball slowly for a full set, followed by a set with internal rotation, rolling the knees on toward each other. Do not lift your hips.
Outer thigh. Reading is going to be really easy on this one. Stand with looped tubing around your ankles, so it feels tight with the feet slightly more than hip-joint width apart. You can get loops, or make one by tying a knot.(I have some loops that have ankle attachments with Velcro. You just strap them on.) Take four sideways steps right, toes facing front, and four left. Four sets. Then, toes still facing front, waddle forward eight steps and backward eight steps with the tubing at maximum stretch. Four sets if your hips can stand it.
Calf raises. E-reader in one hand, other hand on wall, balance on one foot and slowly rise to maximum height on the ball of your foot and lower slowly. Changes sides.
Shins: Sit with ball on shins, e-reader in one hand other holding ball. Keep knees and spine straight and dorsiflex your feet without letting the ball move. In plain English, pull toes back toward body, pressing the tops of your feet into ball. You will feel core stabilization work on this as well as shins, if you keep your posture.
You’ve done a lot of core work in stabilization by now, but your still need to do rotation:
Lie on your back, arms at shoulder height, one elbow flexed to hold e-reader, the other flat on the floor. Keep both shoulders on the floor. Shift your hips off center to the left, bend your legs at the hip joint and knee joint both at 90 degrees, and slowly roll to the side of your right hip without letting legs touch the floor. Keep your knees in line with your lower belly and hold a true neutral spine—don’t crunch. Untwist even more slowly—that’s the best part. Repeat to failure. To do other side, shift the hips off-center to the right and then with legs in the same position roll to the side of the left hip.
Back : Lie prone with e-reader in front of you. Lift your shoulders, then both legs, and then both arms reaching to the back at first. Carry the arms to the side, then to the front and hold. You’re up the whole time, adding resistance with each part of the move. Rest between, but not for long. You can’t read while your rest on this one.
Stretch every muscle you worked, holding each stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds. Reward yourself with a new e-book. Explore https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com and browse by genre for authors whose work is available on Nook, Kobo, Apple, etc. with direct links for each book.
If you’re not sure how to do an exercise or need some new ideas:
Amber Foxx is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, a professor of Health and Exercise Science, and the author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery series. An avid reader, Amber really does e-book workouts. You can find her books on the mystery page and her free short story on the short story singles and series prequels page. The blog Indies Who Publish Everywhere started as her personal Nook book shopping list.