Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The All Important Humble Core

Don't we all wish for ABS like these.......

I know 2 things very well.... fitness and nutrition, specifically Vegan nutrition, because of my profession, expertise & experiences in training & teaching. I've discussed nutrition here/there in some of my blogs, but I've not touched on fitness. I'm thinking I'd like to blog a weekly workout...maybe every Sunday morning to get your week started. So, pretend this is Sunday & this is the weekly workout.

CORE WORK (with Lower Back)

Oh, I know.... I can hear the "moans and groans." Most folks have a love/hate with core training. Luv the results, but hate what it takes to get those results. I won't lie to ya, it takes daily effort, focus and dedication to have great looking abs. But, more importantly, to get great looking abs, you have to rid that adipose tissue, otherwise known as F A T. And the only 2 ways to accomplish this.... 1. a good clean nutrition plan, preferably plant-based and 2. TONS of cardio. Core workouts strengthen and build the muscles. Core training does NOT burn off the fat! Core training should be integrated, DAILY, into your weekly fitness routine.

In my humble opinion, the core muscles are the most important muscles of the human body. Without the core muscles, we could not stand upright, walk, sit up in bed, get up from a seated position, and we could easily be injured during exercises because of the lack of stability and balance. You know how sore your ab muscles get the next day after a great workout? Well, with every movement you make when you feel those sore abs, just think, would not be possible if you had no core muscles.

Complimenting core workouts are lower back workouts. You can't train your core muscles without training your lower back muscles. They all intertwine and interconnect with each other. If one side is strong & the other side is weak, the weaker side will collapse. When you see someone with rounded shoulders & caved in chest area, their chest muscles (or pecs) are weak. When you see someone slumping when they sit or stand, their ab muscles are weak.

The inner unit of the core is made up of these muscles:
-transverse abdominus
-pelvic floor

These muscles are deep within the ab cavity & are the foundation for correct posture, strength & play a part in stabilizing the spine. The inner unit is very weak in most people because of lifestyle, meaning overweight, obese, sedentary or deconditioned.

The Outer unit consists of the following muscles:
-internal/external obliques (side muscles of the abs)
-rectus abdominus
-gluteus max and min
-quadratus lumborum
-pectineus & adductor brevis

These muscles are close to the surface and are responsible for moving the spine & the hips. They control the eccentric movements of the pelvis, like walking/running down hill or downstairs.

When working these muscles, work in this order: 1. Inner unit. 2. Outer unit.

Ok, now that you know way more then you wanted to about the core & lower back muscles, let's get to the work out!

Triggering the inner & outer units is done with Isometric or static exercises. These are held no longer then 7 to 10 seconds, repeated 5 times. Holding beyond the 7 to 10 second time results in purely stabilization and no gain in strength. Rest 3 seconds between sets.

When doing any exercise whether it is walking, running, biking, swimming, weight training, kick box or ab work, remember this: SUCK n SQUEEZE. Meaning, suck in your gut (hold your abs in) and squeeze the butt tight (contract the butt muscles.) This assists in stabilizing your spine & correcting your posture.

The Back Bridge
hold for 7 to 10 seconds and repeat 5 times
Keep your knees straight & not touching.
Need more challenge: raise and straighten out one leg and alternate

The Bird Dog
hold for 7 to 10 seconds and repeat 5 times
Keep your neck & spine in a neutral position by looking at the floor just below your head.
Lift arm and leg NO higher then parallel to floor
Need more challenge: close your eyes

The Plank
hold for 7 to 10 seconds and repeat 5 times
Don’t clinch your fists. Keep neck in neutral position.
Need more challenge: lift one leg & alternate on each

The Side Plank
hold for 7 to 10 seconds and repeat 5 times
Place elbow directly below shoulder.
Keep neck in neutral position by looking straight in front of you. Switch sides.
Need more challenge: raise arm over head

Good Luck and have fun!
As with all work out programs, if you have not worked out in a long time, live a sedentary lifestyle, if you are deconditioned or have any health issues, please check with your physician before doing any exercises.
Remember, you can email me w/ questions or comments if you need help with these.

Until next time......


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