Tag Archives: core

SUP Yoga Challenges Your Practice in the Water

SUP Yoga Brendon

There is a not-so-new sport sweeping across the waters of the world and you really need to catch this wave. SUP, or Stand-up Paddle Boarding, in itself has been popular for quite some time but this new twist, is opening the sport to yoga devotees. Yes, there is yoga on a paddle board out in the middle of the water.

Like most fitness classes, there are also certified instructors for SUP Yoga. You know we fitness freaks are always looking for new, different ways to challenge ourselves. I think we finally found one that is the perfect mix of fitness and fun. (more…)

5 Non-Crunch Ways to Build Your Core (and Not Kill Your Neck)

forearm plank

I don’t like crunches. They hurt my neck. No matter how hard I focus on keeping my eyes up and my chin off my chest, I still feel my neck is getting more of a workout than my abs.

That’s why crunches don’t appear often in my (or my clients’) workouts. I don’t ignore the core however. It is the foundation of our body and functional movement. I just choose to train it other ways.

There are plenty of non-crunch techniques to help you develop your core. If you have low back issues or simply don’t want a pain in the neck, try one of these ways to build a strong and stable core.

1. Planks: I love ab holds and high planks, but they can get boring after awhile. Once a client can maintain an ab hold for 60 seconds, I move on to more challenging plank variations. To take your plank to the next level, try one of these.

  • Stability ball plank: Place your forearms on a stability ball and toes on the ground. Hold for up to 90 seconds.
  • Plank slides: I love Valslides for core work! Place one Valslide under each hand while in high plank position. Alternating pushing arms forward and back, about 6 inches away from your body, for 12 reps per side.
  • Body Saw: Take your plank to a new level by keeping your forearms on the ground but place your feet in suspension trainers that are hanging about 10 – 12 inches from the ground. Move forward and back for 10-15 repetitions. (more…)

Get Surfer Ripped Without the Waves at Crunch’s SurfSET Fitness Class

Crunch Gym is known for their unique group exercises classes, and their newest offering Surfset is no exception. The class is described as “the world’s first total body surf trainer designed to mimic real surfing.” And after seeing creator and former pro hockey player Mike Hartwick’s pitch it on the hit Fox show Shark Tank, I knew I had to check it out.

All in all, this class is genius. Half of it takes place on a custom-built indoor surfboard called the RipSurfer X. The other half is spent using sandbags, imitating the common movement patterns used in surfing.

crunch surfset

According to the official Surfset website, the RipSurfer X is designed to get participants a surfer body that is “lean without looking weak, and muscular without the bulk” and designed to simulate real life surfing. Think of it as a surfboard balanced on small stability balls. In order to remain standing, you have to find your center of gravity and keep your core muscles (i.e. abs, back, and upper legs) active in order to remain standing. You may not feel it that day, but come tomorrow you will feel sore in muscles you never knew existed! (more…)

5 Moves to Build Stronger Cores for Runners

By Meghan Reynolds

Having a strong core is a major component to becoming a stronger, healthier runner. At Hot Bird Running, we give every runner 3-5 days of core exercises within their weekly plan. This is both preventative and strength building.

The core, comprised of the transverse abdominal muscles (deep abs), obliques, erector spinea (lower back muscles), and gluteal muscles (your butt), provides you with stability, power and endurance. If your core is weak, it can lead to poor running patterns, i.e. overstriding, understriding, or a pelvis that swings from side to side, and eventually injury. As a result, you are more susceptible to lower back, hamstring and knee injuries with a weak core.

The moves below help prevent injury, make you a stronger runner, and help make running more enjoyable. Aim for two sets of each exercise 3-5 times a week.

plank hotbird
Plank
Strengthens:  Deep abs, lower back
How to do: Begin by lying face down, resting on your forearms. Push off the floor, rising up onto toes and forearms so your body is parallel to the floor and in a straight line from your head to your heels. Make sure you are looking slightly forward so as not to put strain on the neck.
How much: 20-60 seconds
Make it harder: Extend the hold time or try lifting one foot off the ground. (more…)

Floppy Fish: Core-Strengthening Move with a Twist

by Alexandra Williams, MA from Fun and Fit

Holding a plank for a few minutes or doing 100 crunches may be impressive, but did you know these exercises don’t actually make you much stronger in the abs or back? If you want to assess and improve your core strength, try the “Floppy Fish.” A funny name for an exercise, but videotape yourself doing it, and you just might discover why it has that name!

Core strength is important for keeping you upright with good posture. You want that, because good posture helps you look more confident and fit.

* Lie down on one end of your mat in prone position, perpendicular to the mat
* Place one hand on top of the other, with arms out long in front of you and off the floor. Elbows should be slightly bent
* Cross your feet at the ankles, knees slightly bent, with legs out long and off the floor
* Tuck your chin toward (not to) your chest so that you are looking down at the floor directly below your head
* Verify that you are touching the mat (or floor) only from the chest to the hips. Everything else is lifted slightly
* Tighten everywhere your belt touches, then roll slowly from one end of the mat to the other. Return back to start.
* Repeat this exercise 3 times in each direction, remembering to keep your limbs off the ground (more…)

Laura Tarbell’s Pilates for Runners is Necessary to Overcome the Rough Side Effects of the Sport

“Joseph Pilates once said, ‘We are only as young as our spine.’ And how true that is!” These were Laura Tarbell’s closing words as she explained the details of her new DVD, Pilates for Runners. Designing this workout especially for strengthening runners is something Laura explained is close to her heart.pilates for runners

“Our spine is involved in everything we do, especially running! Therefore, as runners, we especially need to take the utmost care of our spines and strengthen the deep muscles of the core to ensure the opportunity to run for decades and for the lasting health of our bodies.”

These were similar words different professionals have passed on to me as my body has been reacting to all the stress I put it through during marathon training. I used Tarbell’s workout and was quickly made aware just how badly my body needs Pilates.

Tarbell was an athlete with chronic pain issues all during her young years. She discovered Pilates and felt she had found the missing puzzle piece.

“The addition of Pilates to my routine gave me a new perspective. I became intentional with how I moved my body. I learned how to stabilize my core to maintain good form and posture at the end of a hard race or long run. It helped me to get faster. It helped me build confidence,” said Laura, who continued to say Pilates increased the efficiency of her movements, in all aspects of her life, not just running. (more…)

3 Secrets to Mastering Balance Poses in Yoga

Most yogis I know have a love-hate relationship with balance poses. Some days balancing comes easy, but other days tree pose can feel like absolute torture. There is a reason for this, and it has little to do with your ability to actually balance.

Take a look at the following secrets that will help keep your tree from toppling over.

half moon pose

Get out of your head

If yesterday you rocked half moon pose but today fell right on your rear, try examining your current state of mind. Often times when life has us thinking, worrying, or fretting about everything, we won’t have any stability in our balance poses.

Fixing your gaze on a still point in the room is a great way to help your balance because it keeps your mind focused just long enough to complete your task. When your thoughts are scampering about your to-do list, balancing will seem nearly impossible. Instead, get your thoughts out of your head. They will be there when you get back to them, so don’t fret over letting them go during your yoga practice. (more…)

Saturday Morning Drill: Power-Packed Yoga Poses for a Summer-Ready Body

Blooming flowers, singing birds, and warmer days are welcome reminders that summer is right around the corner. But, if you have yet to shed your winter wardrobe for fear of exposing your non summer-ready body, thoughts of tank tops and bikini bottoms might have you wishing it were still November.

The following yoga poses will help tone your arms, core, hips and thighs so you can sport a fit summertime physique.

plank-pose-final
Plank Pose

Better than doing a bench press, practicing plank pose tops the list as one of the best yoga poses to do for overall strength and tone. Practice at least one set of plank every day, and work up to holding your plank for up to one full minute. If you need to modify, practice plank pose on your knees until you can work up to practicing it on your toes. (more…)

Saturday Morning Drill: 7 Planks for a Stronger Core

If you’re a fitness enthusiast of any degree, chances are you’ve found yourself elbows down, back straight, holding yourself up in a plank. Perhaps it was your personal trainer who put you there, a workout video that forced you to hold one for “just 60 more seconds” at the end of a difficult session, or you discovered their somewhat torturous nature on your own. Whatever the case you can be certain that you’ve been doing planks for good a reason: They actually work.

Planks are an extremely beneficial workout not only for your shoulders, front and back of thighs, chest, and back muscles running up and down your spine, but also your core. When your body weight is suspended, relying on your elbows and feet for support, your core muscles are forced to kick in and engage to hold you up. Try holding a plank for just 15 seconds and you’ll see what I mean. No matter how effective they may be, however, lest we branch out from the traditional plank we’re destined to get bored of the whole exercise altogether and travel back to a less-effective sit-up for a stronger core.

In this week’s Saturday Morning Drill we’re seeking to break you out of your plank comfort zone and guide you into more challenging variations, including a side plank that engages the oblique muscles and a knee drop that will have your abs screaming by the time you hit 20 reps. So get on your workout gear, pull up a yoga mat for elbow cushion and let’s get started!

View Saturday Morning Drill: 7 Planks to a Stronger Core Slideshow

 

3 Core Exercises to Increase Stamina and Prevent Injury This Winter

Fall is a busy and active time of year. While many have been hectically scurrying to settle in to a new school year, others have been expending enormous amounts of energy winterizing the yard, gathering wood for the stove, and unpacking the shovels in anticipation of calorie-burning snow removal. These fall and winter activities take strength and stamina to endure.

A strong core is paramount to having increased energy and to prevent back pain or injury. The following are a few basic core exercises that will help you stack that last load of wood and leave you with enough energy to shovel yours and your neighbor’s drive.

Windmills

No, this is not the same thing as the classic 1950’s physical education exercise that wreaked havoc on people’s lower backs. It is however, a more modern and adaptable version of it that is much more effective, plus a lot safer. (more…)