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.
Most fitness experts will tell you that mixing up your workout can lift you out of a plateau and bring you closer to your desired results. Doing the same exercises day in and day out can not only lead to burn out or overuse injuries, it can slow your advancement towards becoming fitter, tougher and leaner. By changing your routine from time to time, your body will be challenged and become stronger as a result.
If you are one of the millions who practice yoga not so much for the repetitive routines some styles offer, but because you love to mix it up, stay fresh and keep it interesting, the following will show you what you can do to add a challenging variation to the classic sun salutation sequence.
In some traditional yoga styles you would normally be exhaling into chaturanga, inhaling into upward dog and then exhaling back into downward dog. This is the mid-section of a sun salute, also referred to as the vinyasa, and is great for developing total upper body strength and tone. However, mixing it up just a touch can be exactly the refreshing change you need to take your upper body strength to a new level.
By Kelsey Murray
Zoe Saldana is a beautiful, talented young actress who is really starting to gain the attention and fame she deserves. Her newest movie to hit the big screens was Colombiana, which opened in the USA on August 26, 2011.
In the film, Saldana plays Cataleya, an assassin who is in killer shape (no pun intended). In order to get the fantastic physique to portray Cataleya, Saldana trained three or four days each week with her personal trainer, Steve Moyer. Saldana has worked with Moyer since 2009; the trainer also works with Amanda Righetti and Shannon Doherty.
Moyer and Saldana both wanted to keep her already athletic build, but also wanted to keep her injury-free and healthy while training for and shooting the film.
“I give her a lot of credit – she knows how to eat healthy for herself,” Moyer said of Saldana. “I give her the tips and suggestions when she wants them.”
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.
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.
The following ten minute ab workout is designed to target your all your core muscles while firming and toning your entire midsection. Each exercise targets a little bit different part of the core and by adding them all together, you get an amazing, complete- and quick- ab workout.
Ten Minute Ab Workout (video examples of each exercise appears below):
- Crunch with arms across chest (1 minute): While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your arms across your chest. Crunch forward slightly raising shoulder blades off the ground while releasing your back to the ground. Keep your chin pointed up towards the ceiling to avoid neck pain.
- Crunch with arms across chest and feet up (1 minute): While lying on your back, bend your knees and raise feet perpendicular to the ground. Crunch forward slightly raising shoulder blades off the ground keeping your chin up.
- Bicycle crunches (1 minute): While lying on you back, bring one knee in towards your chest while taking opposite elbow towards your knee. Repeat while switching knees and elbows.
The plank exercise is one of the most effective core exercises in today’s fitness world. ACE (American Council on Exercise) ranked the plank as one of the top ten exercises for the body, stating that it is a great tool to build core and low back endurance, while it also improves the ability of the stabilizer muscles.
The plank can be modified to accommodate all fitness levels or be modified if you are experiencing any pain.
The plank exercise can also be used as a testing mechanism. You can assess your core strength and progress by maintaining the exercise for as long as you can and then retest on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis to keep you motivated and give you something to train for. (more…)