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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.
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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!
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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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