Arms of Steel and an Open Heart


This exercise grew out of a form I learned in Qi Gong with Master Zhou in Ojai last year. Somehow I started thinking of it as a process of creating a golden sphere of protective light around me, and so I call it "the Golden Sphere." I imagine drawing loving energy from the world as I inhale and sending loving energy back to the world as I exhale, forming a beautiful ball of light that enfolds me in that love. (Hey, I'm a yoga teacher too, so forgive my brief woo-woo.)

Somewhere along the way, though, I started really focusing on the delicious feeling of what I call "lighting up" my arms. I began extending strong energy out through my fingertips on each rotation, feeling each muscle, tendon, and ligament filling with blood and light. I noticed it was very challenging to activate every big and little muscle in my arms with each extension and on each return.

Within a few weeks I started to get comments that my arms looked really sculpted and defined. I'm very much into functional fitness, which precludes the time-heavy, gym-dependent development of bulky, movement-restricting muscles. So I was pleased with this. I'm all about creating (reclaiming!) bodies that move with grace, power, and fluidity in daily life--not doing 2 reps of a ridiculous weight and going home to watch the Lakers with a bag 'o chips.

Having discovered this nifty exercise that also powerfully tones the core muscles of low back and abdomen, along with major work in the postural muscles of the upper back (rhomboids and trapezius), I thought I'd share it with you!

Guys, before you turn up your nose at this, I've taught Golden Sphere to a number of men now. Generally I hear something like this after a few reps: "Damn, that's harder than it looks!"

Also, for those of you who found last week's exercise (alternating arms and legs from plank) to be a little too challenging, this is a great place for you to start—same muscles engaging, just in a more gentle way. Alternatively, if you loved last week's schtick and want to add in this super-quick little twisting, strengthening, and energy-enhancing exercise, you'll definitely build a longer, leaner, more sculpted physique in 4-8 weeks.

Here's the vid! Make sure you read my few quick tips below the video so you get this all dialed in. Thanks for watching!


Remember 1. Keep your hip bones strictly facing forward through the entire movement! That's the key to the core and upper back strengthening here.

2. Turn as far as you can on each side, but don't force it. Patience, young padawan, your range of movement will increase.

3. Ground your feet about hip-width apart, slightly bend your knees, and tuck the tailbone a little to engage the core.

4. Try for 10 reps on each side, for 20 total. Make each one count, so you should have a strong "activated" or working sensation in the arms, core, and back muscles throughout the movement. If you feel nothing, you need to move more energy out through your fingertips and feet.

Let me know what you think! And above all, do something. Lots of love.

PS: No, I don't lift weights. Everything I do is body-weight based.