Here’s a fun exercise that tones your upper back, enhances balance and gets you in touch with nature—literally. All you need is flat ground and a tree trunk to rest your toes against.
I call it the Tree Stand because you use the base of a tree trunk to inspire inner strength and balance. The key is not to rely on the tree for balance, as much as it is to use your own core strength and finesse.
Note: If you live in an urban area without many trees, you can also use a post, wall or fence.
What it Works: Core, back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, balance, proprioception
Props: Tree, post, wall, boulder
Starting position: Stand with your back to a tree that’s a few feet away. Keeping your hips squared with your shoulders, extend your arms overhead and lift your left leg off the ground and reaching back with your toes for the tree’s surface.
Action: Lengthen your body out, so that you create the letter “T.” Keep your left leg, arms, torso and right leg straight. Lower your arms so your hands are facing in creating a fist. Exhale as your raise your arms out to the sides performing a reverse fly—isometrically squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Do your best not to rely on the tree for balance, rather, rely on your core muscles to do the work.
Easier: Use a bent leg propped up against the tree.
Beginners start with ten repetitions per side.
Advanced exercisers work up to one minute per side.