Achieving 6-pack abs is pretty much the holy grail of physical fitness and strength, even though much of your abdominal appearance is decided by genetics, not effort. But whether you have 7% body fat or a layer of “insulation” over your abdominal muscles it’s extremely important to keep those muscles strong. Working the muscles that make up your core strong (the abdominals, obliques, and mid- to lower-back) will make your entire body feel stronger, give you better posture, and improve your balance. However, the question remains—what’s the best technique to building and managing core strength?
We’ve been presented with so many different options for strengthening the abdominal muscles that it’s hard to know what works best. Should we be lying on our backs, balancing on our hands and toes, standing up, squatting, or using a contraption like the ab flyer or ab rocket?
Luckily, a group of fitness experts commissioned by the American Council on Exercise recently conducted the research to answer that very question. ACE reached out to experts at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse to conduct research determining the effectiveness of the most popular equipment and exercises compared to the traditional crunch. The team incorporated several different varieties of popular equipment including the Ab Circle Pro, Ab Roller, and others, as well as exercises including yoga’s boat pose, the stability ball crunch, decline bench curl-ups, the captain’s chair crunch, the bicycle crunch, the side plank, and a standard plank. (more…)
As goes the economy, so goes the exercise habits of U.S. citizens. According to a Gallup poll, Americans started to let their fitness activities go by the wayside in the fall of 2008. While there was a partial rebound in 2010, exercise levels are still not what they were before they fell.
Gallup based their findings on information gathered from 1,000 adults on their exercise habits. Of those who were polled, 53.4 percent said they exercised for at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week. That was down from 54.3 percent in the same month in 2008.
While that doesn’t seem significant, since the margin of error for the study was one percent, it was more significant with older Americans. The group that saw the biggest decrease in exercise was the 65 years and older group. Less than 50 percent of them said they exercise for at least 30 minutes, three days a week. (more…)
The following 600 second body blast workout was designed to target the entire body while increasing the heart rate at a rapid pace. This is a short, but perfect little workout for the holidays due to the lack of time, unpredictable weather, and the versatility to be performed at home- and to get a jump start on that New Years resolution!
600 Second Body Blast Workout (each exercise appears below for easy instruction)
Jumping squat thrusts (90 seconds): This exercise increases your heart rate while challenging your upper and lower body. Try to perform this movement for 90 seconds straight.
Bicycle crunches (90 seconds): This exercise targets your entire core region while helping improve your stamina and endurance. The hip flexors are also isolated. Try to perform this movement for 90 seconds without stopping.
The following five minute ab routine was designed to provide you with maximum results with minimum amount of time invested- perfect for the busy holiday season. The following exercise routine can be performed at home or at the gym, so there is no excuse not to fit it in to your day.
5 Minute Ab Routine
(Video examples of each exercise appear below)
- Bicycle crunches (1 minute): Start with your legs straight out in front of you, off the ground, and hands behind your head. Begin by bringing one knee in toward your chest and take the opposite elbow to that knee. Repeat by alternating knees and elbows. Bicycle crunches target the entire core: abdominals, obliques, and lower back.
Body weight exercises are an effective and inexpensive way of working out. By using only the resistance of your own body, you can gain strength, endurance and inner peace. Body weight exercises are great because you can get an effective workout anytime, any place, with no equipment. Walking, swimming, dancing and yoga are all considered body weight exercises. While I encourage you to explore those, here are a couple specific body weight exercises to try out:
The Superman Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs outstretched, with a neutral spine so your elbows are by ears. Contracting your lower back, gently lift your arms and legs off the ground, hold for a few breaths, and slowly release them back to the floor. Repeat. This exercise works your lower back and core. (more…)
What is the difference between isometric core exercises and crunches? First off, isometric (iso meaning same, and metric meaning distance) exercises are those in which the joint angle or muscle length do not change during the movement, or, in other words, the body is held in a non-moving or stable position to help isolate the targeted muscle group. This type of movement is great for improving muscular strength and endurance without placing too much stress on the body.
Crunches are great for core strength and endurance, as well, and isolates the abdominals extremely well, but places unnecessary stress on the neck and back. For most, this is no big deal, and the body can handle the stress, but for some with injuries or general weakness, those movement can cause pain, and even injury. (more…)
Today, we are focusing on using correct posture throughout your workout. This is a huge topic and I feel that it can make a difference in your workouts. Correct technique and maintaining good posture keeps your body in-line, over-compensation free, and decreases your risk of injury. You might have to decrease your weights in order to do so, but it will be worth it in the long run. I have a few demonstrations below to help you picture a few exercises.
Push-Up: Notice how his body is in-line from his neck to is feet. Try not to drop your head while performing this exercise.
Crunch: Keep it simple, do a crunch not a sit-up; better on the spine. Also notice how he is not pulling on his neck. Try to keep your head back and in-line with upper spine.
Standing Tricep Extension: Notice how her feet are shoulder width apart, head is up and in-line with spine, and her back is not hunched over. You will notice one of these three struggle if you are trying to lift too much weight.