Tag Archives: core

US Rower Mary Whipple Defends the Gold with a Vegetarian Diet and Her Pre-Race Ritual

Mary Whipple has only a week left in the states before she packs her oars and heads to London, where she’ll be competing on the US rowing team. She and her fellow women rowers are defending the team’s first gold medal since 1984, which they earned in Beijing in 2008.

While terribly busy with training preparations for team’s trip to the 2012 Olympic Games this month, Mary took some time to chat with us about her diet (which is vegetarian), training methods (which are intense), and even what gets her head in the game at the starting line (it’s not music like fellow water athlete Michael Phelps). She even shares her personal breakfast recipe that she calls the “MWhip special.”

What does your training diet look like?

Because I’m a vegetarian, I keep a fairly constant diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I don’t keep a daily food journal but I do a self-check with my favorite app (Lose It!) on a weekly basis. My official race weight is 110 pounds; I fluctuate a pound or so but because I’m weighed in 2 hours before each race, I track it very closely.

Usually I’m under so often I have to carry weight in the boat. I, naturally, have a lower weight. My weight isn’t something I worry about because I’ve got great genes from my family.    (more…)

Olympic Swimmer Janet Evans Uses the Flex Belt in Her Workout Routine

The London Olympic Games are quickly approach. Athletes are training their hardest to qualify for the U.S. trials, which begin today for swimming, and that includes four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans. One product she uses to do that is the Flex Belt, an electronic abdominal toning device.

“As an Olympian in swimming, our abs and our core are really important to us, so an ab core workout is something I always do at the end of every workout. But I find that there are some things I traditionally cannot get. I can’t get my obliques really well, I can’t get my upper abs, I can’t get my lower abdominals, so what I find with the Flex Belt is that it really helps me get things that I might not get by getting down on the ground and doing traditional crunches and sit ups,” Evans said in an interview. (more…)

Fit in Five: 5 Off-the-Ground Core Exercises

By Pamela Hernandez

Recently I had a client do bicycle crunches. Her teammate looked at me and said, “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen you ask anyone to do crunches.”

She’s right; crunches are not a big part of my ab repertoire. Much like running isn’t always appropriate, I think crunches are something you have to work up to. Many clients come to me with challenges that make crunches a poor place to start for developing core strength. For some, the act of getting on the ground for core exercises, like planks and cobras, can be off limits initially. I often need off-the-ground core strengthening and stabilizing exercises to help my clients achieve their fitness goals.

Here are my top 5 core exercises that don’t require a mat or getting off your feet.

Wood chops: I like these best with a cable machine but they are just as effective with resistance bands, a medicine ball or a dumbbell. Start high and chop by pulling diagonally across the body. The hips should not flex but instead stay straight and the body tall. (more…)

Stand Up Paddling is the Latest Fitness Craze with Serious Benefits

Stand up paddling (SUP) or “Yoloing” is the perfect combination of traditional canoeing, surfing and kayaking, but even better. Stand up paddling offers an incredible core workout with a cadence much like swimming or cycling. Yolo Boards, founded by Tom Losee and Jeff Archer in 2006 in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, is the custom paddleboard of choice. “Yolo” stands for “You Only Live Once”, and when you first try stand up paddling in a lake, ocean, or bay, this name makes perfect sense.

People of any age, from 5 to 85, can do this. While traditional surfboards are 20 inches in width, stand up paddleboards are 32 inches wide. You can learn by starting on your knees and go from there. What is truly great is that it is something the entire family can do together.

Here are 3 new fitness trends in Stand Up Paddling:

1. Stand Up Fitness and Paddle Fit founder Brody Welte, says, “SUP” is one of the greatest forms of exercise that exists. It focuses on upper and lower body and core strength. It is as challenging as running, swimming and biking from a cardio perspective. It has virtually zero impact, is gentle on the body, and improves your balance as well.” SUP is an exercise like no other. Getting out on the water gives you a true serenity, challenge and good time.

2. Stand Up Paddle Yoga is becoming a top yoga trend as well. When I asked Stand Up Paddle Yoga Instructor Gillian Gibree why she thinks this is becoming so popular, she told me, “Stand Up Paddle Yoga takes the workout out of the studio and into nature. Doing a true sun salutation on a floating mat on the water is so refreshing and meditative. Yoga and SUP are two amazing practices that are great for the body, mind, and spirit!”

3. Racing in Stand Up Paddle is becoming a sport as well. You can find the latest information for races around the United States on at SupEvent.com and iTunes.

For more information, you can also see Brody’s innovative Paddle Fit digital guide launched last year, which gives step-by-step digital instruction on getting fit while stand up paddling. He has also launched an entire Paddle Fit certificationof classes, held in different areas of the country. For your next vacation, see if your resort offers SUP like Sandestin and 30A in NW Florida.

Alison Lewis is a nationally known Cookbook Author, Magazine and Internet Food, Travel, Fitness and Health Journalist, Speaker, Travel and Food Photographer and Owner of Ingredients, Inc., a Media Consulting company in Birmingham, Alabama who is on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday Morning Drills: Get a Strong Core Fast

Having a strong core is more important than you realize!

Your core includes your abs, upper legs and back. The main muscles are the obliques, abdominals, lower back and the gluteus. Having strong core muscles will help with more than giving you sizzling-looking abs.  They are responsible for your posture and movement. Here is a list of some other benefits:

  • It will prevent lower back pain and injury. Most lower back injuries are from weak core muscles.
  • It will help improve your overall physical performance. So the stronger these babies are the easier everything else will be.
  • Improves balance
  • Helps you maintain your independence later in life.

I have included some simple and VERY effective exercises that you can do in less than 15 minutes right in your living room! (more…)

Former Marine Sets World Record for Holding Longest Plank

Sometimes, you think you’ve seen it all, and then, someone comes out of nowhere and amazes you. Someone goes above and beyond the normal and does something like, say, set a new world’s record for fitness.

Former Marine George Hood is that person.

Hood has recently set a new Guinness World’s Record for holding a plank  for 1 hour, 20 minutes and 5.01 seconds. The 53-year old also has set Guinness World Records in endurance for jumping rope and spin cycling. His planking record is officially notated as the Static Abdominal Hold and blew away the former record by almost 30 minutes.

I can’t even fathom those numbers. I’m super impressed by what he’s accomplished. Hood first added planks to his fitness regimen to strengthen himself in an effort to surpass his spin cycling record. In doing so, he set another record, although that wasn’t his original intent.

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Fit in 5: Your 5 Minute Core Workout

Pamela Hernandez owns Thrive Personal Fitness in Springfield, MO where she focuses on weight training for weight loss. She writes a blog for her web site, www.thrivepersonalfitness.com, sharing vegetarian recipes from her kitchen, exercise strategies, lifestyle tips and stories from her own journey. You can also follow Pamela on Twitter @ThriveFit or pick up more tips on Facebook, www.facebook.com/thrivepersonalfitness.

A client commented to me the other day about the lack of crunches in our workouts. She had worked at a health club many years ago and still had memories of endless crunches during the abs section of her aerobics class.

I told her that while crunches can have a place in a fitness routine, they are not the best exercises for overall core strength. A lot has changed in our world since Abs of Steel was in everyone’s VCR. We sit more during the day for longer periods of time and have less opportunity to be physically active at workplaces and schools. Bodies have gotten weaker. I see a constant stream of tight hamstrings, weak backs and hunched over shoulders. For the majority of my clients, it’s not about having a six pack. It’s about being able to pick up the kids and get up out of a chair without pain.

If this sounds familiar, and sit ups and crunches aren’t the answer, you may be asking what should you be doing?

First, remember the core is involved in pretty much every exercise we do in a standing or upright position. Get in touch with it by pulling your belly button into your spine during exercises like overhead squats and standing shoulder presses or while using cardio equipment like the elliptical trainer.

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Yoga for a Strong, Happy and Healthy Core

The core of a person can be defined in many ways. In the physical sense, the core consists of the muscle groups between the hips and the ribs. In a psychological sense, the core makes up the deep inner-self some might call the soul. In an energetic sense, the core is what makes up the solar plexus, a place in our body that is home to bundles of nerves responsible for those curious gut feelings. Yogis often refer to the solar plexus as the third chakra, the spirited space in our body that governs our self-esteem and feelings of empowerment.

However you view your core, a regular yoga practice has a strong and powerful effect on it. Whether physical, psychological or energetic, your core will be particularly influenced, and the following is a look into why.

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Join the Plank A Day Revolution

Ok, confession time. Or better yet, twitter-fession time. I’m a bit of a Twitter addict. Ok, maybe more than a bit. I may be a big enough addict that I find myself talking about my “tweeps” like they are good personal friends. But it’s a new world and social media serves more than just entertainment purposes. Twitter really does have more to offer than just seeing what Justin Beiber had for lunch today.

This summer a particular hashtag kept coming across my feed that caught my attention. #Plankaday was showing up after several of my “tweeps” mentioned they got their ab workout in. Having just lamented that I needed to commit to a more consistent ab routine to help me with my running, the Plank a Day challenge walked into my life.

Apparently I’m not alone in my loathing of ab work. While I know it’s useful, I still hate to do it.

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Impressive Planking Requires Extreme Core Strength

A new viral trend has swept the nation, where mature, upstanding citizens take pictures of themselves laying face-down, motionless and expressionless, on…something. Anything, really. This trend is called “planking”, and while it sounds stupid, lazy and like a waste of time, it is.

I know, I know, they aren’t hurting anything, but I can’t help but roll my eyes that the newest craze in America is to take pictures of yourself not moving. We’ve always been fond of not moving here in the great U.S. of A., but documenting it and putting it on the Internet for all to see is a new development. You can now become a YouTube sensation for being sedentary.

I see the lure, though. While I am used to thinking of planks as a core exercise that actually, literally, makes me angry, as I started scrolling through Google images of planking, I saw some planks that made me laugh, cringe, gasp and scratch my head.

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