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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.
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5 Exercises You Love to Hate, but Should Do Anyway

There are three benefits to hiring a personal trainer. The first is accountability. Having someone waiting on you helps insure you get to the gym. The second is structure. We have enough to think about, letting someone else put together the workout is a huge time saver. The third is having someone who pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you do the exercises you hate.

Even the most devoted exerciser has at least one exercise they love to hate. We hate it when we’re doing it, but we love the way we feel or look afterwards. I did an informal poll of my clients and came up with the five exercises they love to hate (and why we should all do them anyway).

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Burpees (aka squat thrusts): I don’t think one client likes burpees. I like them because they are efficient. If you want to get to your heart rate up and work multiple muscle groups (core, arm, shoulders and quads) then the burpee is the quickest way to do it. A burpee can also be modified for almost every fitness level.

Squats: I get groans every time I mention squats. That means there are a lot of groans because we do some form of a squat at every workout. Squats are a part of daily life (think about every time you get up out of the chair). If you want to stay independent and function for your whole life squats need to be part of your workout routine.
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Saturday Morning Drill: Lower Body Blitz

It’s the weekend – time to relax, unwind and blow off some steam from a long work week, right? What better way to de-stress than with exercise? Today we have a simple, 7-move workout that requires no equipment and tones and tightens your entire lower body. Get ready for classics like deep squats and side kicks, as well as a few new moves like the “runner’s start” and standing split kicks.

So get your workout gear on and do this workout, no matter if you’re at home, outside or spending time at a friend’s house. If you have 10-15 minutes, you have time to whip your lower body into shape. Let’s get started! And afterwards, don’t forget to check out these 5 tips to survive the weekend.

View Saturday Morning Drills: The Lower Body Blitz Slideshow



Why Five Minutes of Exercise Makes a Big Difference in Your Fitness

According to MayoClinic.com, the number one reason people don’t exercise on a regular basis is lack of time. I hear the same thing from clients.

But lack of time also tops my list of excuses for not exercising that are crap.

Our world is a busy one. I run my own business, so I get it. Yet, have you ever asked yourself how much time you waste on Facebook, reality TV or complaining you don’t have time to exercise? In the time you spent complaining you could have done something!

To start many of my clients off, I give them exercise homework that takes 5 minutes or less. A Cornell University study found that just 5 minutes of exercise per day can result in fitness gains and improve our self image. It can go a long way toward forming the habit of being active and chances are once you get going you’ll want to do more than those 5 minutes.
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Twitter’s Most Popular Fitness Memes Help Millions Lose Weight

Support systems are nice to have when you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle. For the past few years, the Twitter world has offered information and a support network for people who may not have found it IRL (in real life). By adding a certain hashtag to your tweet, you can instantly join with the most supportive and trusted weight loss resources online.

We’ve found a few Twitter memes, or communities, that have really grown to be the go-to resources for socially supported weight loss, fitness, and health. Not only do you get a virtual support group, but accountability, guidance, and access to resources are part of the package, or rather hashtag.

#RunChat

The running community is brought together on #runchat, organized by @RunningBecause and @iRunnerBlog. Whether a beginner or marathoner, there is a place for you at #RunChat. About one million people unite on this trending topic on Twitter. Followers benefit from a sense of a community that cares deeply about the sport of running and are willing to share information with each other. Join this Twitter community on #RunChat on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month at 8pm EST.
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