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story.lead_photo.caption Eddie Dunn demonstrates step 4 of the Pulsing V Up for Matt Parrott's Master Class in the lower parking lot at Little Rock Racquet Club. (Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

Over the past two weeks, I've presented tips for starting a 12-week fitness routine and adjusting it after the first four weeks. Today, I will discuss strategies for finishing the program on a high note — while planning for the next program.

The great thing about a 12-week program is that it's long enough to create some meaningful fitness improvements but short enough to make the project seem temporary. It's a good length of time to focus one's energy and resources on a goal. And once you make it through Week 7 or 8, it is easy to muster up a strong push for the home stretch.

However, it's also important not to become complacent and simply cruise to the finish line. I encourage everyone to find the inspiration to wake up early, go the extra mile, try for one more repetition in anticipation of that final workout.

To achieve this level of exertion, you've got to dig deep.

If you have followed my advice for the beginning of the program, you conducted a fitness assessment that provided fitness data and a snapshot of your overall condition at that time. At the end of the 12-week program, you'll retake that same fitness assessment.

One of the things that tends to motivate exercisers is knowing that a test is coming. Whether the overarching goal is weight loss, body fat loss or something else, the key is to use your desire to do well in that fitness assessment to inspire a strong effort in that final push.

Of course, not everyone will make tremendous gains. Be honest with yourself and commit to a sound nutritional plan that aligns with the fitness progress that has taken place over the last couple of months. Even four weeks of nutritional commitment will make a huge difference in your results.

This week's exercise is a perfect addition for the late stages of the 12-week program, especially because the movement requires a baseline level of abdominal strength to perform correctly. At the same time, the Pulsing V-Up is appropriate for anyone who has completed the first eight weeks of a comprehensive fitness program.

1. Lie on your back with the legs extended and arms on the ground overhead. Lift both arms and allow them to move forward until the hands are over your chest.

2. As you reach this point, use the momentum to lift your torso off the ground while lifting the left leg off the ground.

3. Hold the arms forward (hands near the calf) and "pulse" by moving the torso and leg toward and away from one another three times in very short movements.

4. Once you've completed the three pulses, lower the torso and the leg to the ground.

5. Rest for a few seconds, then switch to the right leg.

6. Continue alternating leg raises with the V-Up until you've done two sets of 12 repetitions.

Best of all, the Pulsing V-Up is a great option for the largely home-based exercise environment that most of us find ourselves in. It's appropriate for the whole family, and I like to do it during commercial breaks while I watch TV. Try it today!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

vballtop@aol.com

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