Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises

Get in Shape in 2012

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Each year around this time I offer an article about fitness to help those with New Year Resolutions and those that want to get in shape in 2012.  I like to update this every year as trends in fitness are constantly changing.

Why You Need to Get in Shape in 2012

I discussed this in last year’s article on How to Become Healthier, Richer, and More Attractive, but the numbers are real and worth reiterating.  Recent reports are stating that close to 75% of Americans will be overweight by 2015.  That is completely insane.  I’m going to take this directly from Men’s Health editor David Zinczenko in his new book The New Abs Diet (which I still love and you should read more about here), but here are some startling facts if you are overweight:

  • 50% more likely to develop heart disease
  • 360% more likely to develop diabetes
  • 31% more likely to die of any cause
  • 120% more likely to develop stomach cancer
  • 590% more likely to develop esophageal cancer
  • 35% more likely to develop kidney cancer

But for some reason, these numbers don’t scare us enough, maybe these next two will since no one seems to care about their health, lets focus on what really motivates us – money and…  well, you know:

  • 14% less attractive to the opposite sex
  • 37% more in expenses for prescription drugs
But there is hope.  Exercising a small amount each day has been shown to:
  • Reduce mortality by 14%
  • Reduce chance of cancer by 10%
  • Reduce chance of cardiovascular disease by 20%

So in a nutshell, getting in shape in 2012 will allow you be healthier, richer, and more attractive.  Where do we start???

Home Workouts

Like I do each year, I will start this section off by saying that I fully encourage people to go to a gym and work with a qualified personal trainer or strength and conditioning specialist.  There is NO DOUBT in my mind that this is ideal and will provide much better benefits than any home workout.  That being said, this section isn’t geared towards people that want to do that, it is geared towards everyone else.  Realistically, I know that there is a large percentage of our population that simply can’t or will not do this, so encouraging home workouts is an option for them.

In the past, I have discussed the best home workout programs and included such staples as P90X, Mark Verstegan’s Core Performance series, and Yoga (click the link earlier to read more).  I still like all of these programs but there are three programs that have been on the market since I originally published this article in 2008 that are worth mentioning.

Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Training

Show and Go TrainingI have always kept the target of these articles to programs that can be conducted at home, however Eric Cressey has released his Show and Go Training program that anyone can use on their own.  Unless you have a sweet gym in your basement or garage, you will need to get to a gym to perform these workouts.  However, this is the next best thing to working one on one with a fitness specialist.  Eric shares his acclaimed training programs and provides a comprehensive program that any can follow and any can benefit from.  This is the next step program that many of us are probably looking for to narrow the gap between a home workout like P90X and a real strength and conditioning program.

Click here for more information on Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Training.


P90X2The sequel to the original and has 12 new workouts.  I really enjoyed the original P90X programming and thought they did a good job with the production of the DVDs.  P90X2 is even better.  This time around, they took feedback from the millions of P90X users and combined it with more modern science and fitness research.  I like the added focus on recovery and mobility in this new series.  Like the original P90X, P90X2 is a very thorough program.  You won’t get bored quickly and you will be challenged.  You may still probably mute the DVDs and play your own music once you are familiar with the programs!

Click here for more information about P90X2.


I have to mention it, but P90X has had a competitor the last few years called Insanity.  I’ve taken a look at the program and it is pretty intense.  I love the marketing as well and have to admit, we tried throwing the words “insanity” and “extreme” around in rehab but it just doesn’t work as well when I tell someone to perform their “Extreme Shoulder Program” or “Range of Motion Insanity” program.  If you truly do not want to go to the gym, then P90X and Insanity may be options for you, but the programs are not quick and easy, the both have nearly daily workouts between 60-90 minutes.

Click here for more information about the Insanity workout.

Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels

I have to mention that Jillian Michaels can basically sneeze on a napkin and turn it into a well selling workout at this point.  One of the fitness specialists from the Biggest Loser TV show, Michaels has turned herself into a huge fitness business.  She has more DVDs out right now than I can even count, but what may be even more impressive is how many different sports bras she owns.  She is hot right now and has such a variety of home base workout programs that you should be able to find one that fits your goals.  I must admit that I cringe every time I watch the biggest loser and see the workouts they perform, so take popularity with a grain of salt.

Click here for more information on all of Jillian Michaels’ DVDs.

Home Workout Equipment

My original article on the best home workout equipment include items like the Perfect Push Up, Yoga Equipment, and the Bowflex SelectTech Weight System.  Still great products and worth pursuing.  Last year I discussed the TRX Suspension Training system.

TRX Suspension Training and the TRX Rip Trainer

TRX Rip Trainer

I really love the TRX Suspension Trainer.  Over the summer, I published a video of a new exercise I called TRX Serratus Slides to strengthen the serratus anterior.  This is just a small example of how I use the TRX Suspension System in rehab, but the programs that come with the TRX products can form a very good home workout program with minimal equipment.  Eric Cressey and I show a few techniques with the TRX products during our Functional Stability Training of the Core program as well.

TRX now has a new product called the TRX Rip Trainer, which is essentially a bungie cord at the end of a long dowel.  Like all of the TRX products, the Rip Trainer’s production quality is top notch.  TRX really does a great job putting together a great product with a great workout program included.  The Rip Trainer can be used to perform many home exercises including chops and lifts that traditionally require a Keiser or Pulley machine.  There are bunch of new uses that I come up with everyday as well.

I recommend both the TRX Suspension Training System and TRX Rip Trainer, click here for more information on both.

Xbox Kinect Workouts

ZumbaWow, I never thought I would include a video game in this type of article, sounds counterproductive doesn’t it?  The Wii was close, but the Xbox 360 with the Kinect motion sensor really does open up the possibility to offer home workout “virtual coaching” better than a pure DVD video.  The Xbox Kinect system can see you and assess the quality of your movement as you go along with the workout programs.  Games include several dance based titles that can serve as a cardio workout, but also many workout programs including:

I wouldn’t underestimate these options for home workout programs as they can be fun and motivation is the key.

Click here for more information on the Xbox Kinect Motion Sensor.

Self Myofascial Release

I really think that we are going to start seeing more of the trend towards “feeling better” in our home workout programs.  As we mentioned above, P90X2 has a new section of the program designed for recovery and mobility, and Mark Verstegan’s Core Performance programs have always featured this concept.

One simple way to start feeling better in addition to getting in shape for 2012 is self myofascial release and trigger point releases.

UPDATE:  This article has been revised and updated with newer products!  Click here to see my current list of best self myofascial release tools.

Foam Rollers

Thoracic Spine Mobility ExercisesI have reviewed many of the best foam rollers on the market right now.  I still like all my original recommendations, though one new product is also worth checking out.  I have actually gravitated to using the Grid roller myself, and I think it is great, but for those on a tight budget it is hard to justify the extra cost from the simple foam roller.

In addition to self myofascial release, foam rollers are also excellent at working on thoracic mobility, which we all really need in our society.  I showed a video of how I perform simple thoracic mobility exercises on a foam roller than anyone can perform.  Start enhancing your posture now!

Click here to check out the best foam rollers.

Trigger Point Massage Balls

Trigger Point Massage BallThe same company as the Grid roller, Trigger Point Performance Therapy, has released a trigger point massage ball that I really like.  Softer than a lacrosse ball and firmer than a tennis or racquetball with a little nub to really get into a trigger point.  This has been my go to tool for self trigger point releases over the last year or so.  I showed a technique I use for the self trigger point release of the shoulder and rotator cuff.  This is a great compliment to any foam roller you have.

Click here for more information on the Trigger Point Massage Balls.

I hope this information helps.  I am always looking for good products so feel free to comment and share your experiences too!  Good luck with your New Year Resolution to get in shape in 2012!

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