Tag Archives: core

Our Weekend in Pictures

Hilarious freezings of kongs

Hilarious freezings of kongs

Christmas shopping

Christmas shopping

Getting funny Christmas cards

Getting funny Christmas cards

Great soccer matches

Great soccer matches

Chris following his December goals and bringing home-cooked meals to every work day

Chris following his December goals and bringing home-cooked meals to every work day

Core workouts

Core workouts

Cute kitties

Cute kitties

Cute puppies

Cute puppies

A beautiful view

A beautiful view

Do This Before You Go to Bed!

We all complain that we simply don’t have enough time. Does that sound familiar? I say it too. We all use it as an excuse–whether that’s in order to not do the dishes, not brush your teeth, or not exercise! Well I say bollocks! You do have time. You just need to realize it. Even though it’s easy to say you don’t have time to workout, you do. It doesn’t need to be an hour workout. It can even be six minutes! Something is better than nothing so do this before you go to bed!

photo

30 seconds each

  • Crunches
  • Side crunches (right)
  • Side crunches (left)
  • Reverse crunches
  • Fast bicycles
  • Slow bicycles
  • In n outs (rows)
  • Scissors
  • Crossed leg crunches
  • Ankle touches

1 minute

  • Plank (you can side plank for a break)

beforebed

The above workout is six minutes. SIX MINUTES! You can do that. Do yourself a favor and even if you “don’t have any time,” I promise you can squeeze this in. Not only is it good for your health and sculpting your core, it will make you feel better about yourself. You will feel that you have accomplished something, even if it’s a short workout. This is a greathealthy thing to do before bed. Make it a habit and do it every other day! Believe in yourself! This will give you power! Please leave any comments or questions in the comment section. And as always…stay hungry and fit!

BONUS KITTY PIC

meow

meow

Want to Increase Your Willpower?

One of the most simplest yet most effective core exercise requires more willpower than it does strength (although that certainly helps, too). What am I talking about? The Plankof course! When I train clients, I experience more people dropping out due to sheer loss of willpower rather than muscle fatigue. Because it’s hard to fatigue your core. Although some people do go until their muscles fail, which is something I absolutely admire. You can tell when this happens–the entire body will start to shake and they will fall on their face. Admirable. But go ahead, try a plank real quick, go as long as you can. Notice how you kind of get bored and your willpower muscle starts to fail? Let’s change that.

Planking--keep it tight!

So I challenge you to try to do a plank every day for the rest of the year. Train your willpower (and your core), bat down your boredom and focus on strength and discipline. I believe and I know through experience that practicing the plank over and over is the true way to increasing your willpower enough to actually plank until muscle fatigue. Who’s with me?! Plank every day to stay hungry and fit!

  • Question of the day: Which exercise do you find you stop doing out of boredom/lack of willpower rather than muscle fatigue?

BONUS…SNAKE PIC

Dovah being silly

Dovah being silly

Quick Home Workout (Starting at Just 10 Minutes!)

So you really don’t have a lot of time, but you want to get some kind of cardio and strength activity in. Maybe you’re running off to see Jack the Giant Slayer in 15 minutes, but you want to get some muscle work in (hmm, sounds familiar…). This one ended up being a great core blaster with great upper body work as well.

home workoutAnd that’s my delightful chicken scratch! Do as many sets as you have time for. You can do one set in 7-10 minutes, depending on how long you last until failure. The weight for curls, rows, and press is up to you! You should get a light sweat and feel it in the abs and upper body, at least I did. Do them right, no rushing! If you have any questions on the exercises, feel free to comment and ask!

Cheers! And as always…stay hungry and fit!

Core vs. Abs: the Smackdown

Many people are obsessed with doing abs. What they don’t know is that they should be obsessed with doing core instead. So what’s the difference?!

Abs” refer to a part on your torso. The rectus abdominus and the obliques are what are targeted when people say “abs.” Sometimes, it doesn’t even include the obliques.

Ignore the body shape on the bottom, I know he’s scary. 

So…then, what is core?

I’ll leave it to Chris to rant now.

So basically, we can look at this conceptually, as what we’ll refer to as our “abs” and then our “core.” For abs, I am referring strictly to the upper abs, lower abs, and we’ll say side abs, or–more fittingly–obliques. Then we have our core, which is much more important, and we’re going to include everything in our “mid-section” that acts as important stabilizers for strength and balance in either strength-training sessions or fully-interactive sporting sessions. So let’s break down the abs first.

Basically, as we already mentioned, we will look at and focus our workouts to our upper and lower abs and our obliques. Now, there are two major ways to workout abs when we focus a workout on them. First, is what I would think as the more common method, doing as many repetitions of as many abs exercises as we can find in magazines and online. Let’s do 3000 reps, 30 reps of 10 different exercises ten times over in an hour. I hear that one a lot, and I’ve done it a lot. 9000 reps on serious days. Will this work and will you feel it the next day? Sure, you probably will. But you could also feel some serious pain in your lower back or have a bruised tailbone if you don’t make sure that you are spot on with form and focus for thousands of reps, which is not an easy task. While you don’t need weight to train and break down those muscle fibers, it does help in its own ways. And while this is a great endurance workout that can really get your heart rate jumping, there is another way of working out those abs.

The alternative I speak of is strength training your abs. Abs are a muscle group, just like biceps, quads, lats, etc… so of course you can train them with a little extra resistance. I am not offering workouts here, just stating how I feel on this matter, but I would still keep rep ranges relatively high, over that 15-18 rep mark, going still towards 25-30 reps per set. So please, don’t take this as a suggestion to max out on an ab exercises. If I had to choose one exercise for each of our three ab groups, to do 25-30 reps while increasing my weight each set for three total sets, it would be: a kneeling cable crunch for upper abs, a weighted reverse crunch with our legs in a declined position for our lower abs, and an inverted weighted twist for our obliques.

Don’t yell at me if you do these wrong and they don’t work because I’m not putting my actual workout up for another few weeks when I’m a little more back in shape. (FYI, your obliques are a muscle group that tapers from the side of your body towards your hip area, and if you were to “bulk” these up through strength training there is a great chance that your waist size would increase, making you look thicker, just a side note) But I wouldn’t leave it as this, because I personally don’t ever do abs… EVER… I always do core, and this is why:

As a former athlete that works out not to feel good, or for appearance, but for performance, I know the importance of maintaining a strong core. I consider my core anywhere under my chest down through the upper leg. So to be in more detail, muscle groups that I hit when I do a core workout include: upper abs, lower abs, obliques, lower back, hip adductors, hip abductors, and even upper glutes. While I will isolate these muscle groups with free weights, and unfortunately on some machines (mainly for hips) , I always try to incorporate them on some heavier and more complex exercises.

For instance, when I do firemen carries with friends, it is a leg workout picking them up waking with their weight, and it is a shoulder workout holding them in place, but it is also a GREAT core workout trying to keep all those muscles in your abs and lower back tight to stabilize your body throughout the workout and prevent any injuries and accidents. Deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, and squats really require you keep that core tight and that form precise in order to target your muscles properly. Most hanging core exercises require that you do not swing so that your core finds that stable position, making you constantly work harder.

Stronger core means stronger everything else.

Someone could have a massive set of legs, but when they put that loaded bar on their back and try to squat 600 lbs, their lower back might want to snap causing them to lean to far forward and not only fail to complete a rep, but also potentially and likely hurt themselves. Watch the crossfit fails video on YouTube and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Crossfit will be a serious rant post, and total immersion swimming, but back on track.

And remember, my favorite way to work out core is integrate it into something FUN, like sports. Rock climbing, swimming, soccer, frisbee, football, baseball… really any sport at any competitive (meaning people are actually trying) level is an amazing core workout, and you don’t even have to count reps, because it’s so integrated in what you’re doing. One of the recommended doctors that contributes to Men’s Health in some issue over the past few years said his favorite lower back workout was pickup soccer (we’re in the US :/). Strengthen that core!!! Abs will come naturally if you do.

And finally, since this is all over the place, and I think I hit most the points I wanted to… if you’re trying to go from not having any visual abs in a pack to a certain goal like a six-pack you need to consider everything. In no particular order…

  • Build the muscles through strength training so that they are there and defined, wanting to be seen. 
  • Cut the fat covering those nicely defined muscles through PROPER NUTRITION (SO IMPORTANT!) and fat burning exercises (CARDIO TO THE NEXT LEVEL) so that you can see those nicely defined muscles that you built through strength training.
  1.                   a. Proper nutrition means stop eating garbage. I’m not asking you do some silly diet like cut carbs completely. Just eat  healthy, and if you don’t know what that means, then ask.
  2.                   b. Fat burning exercises doesn’t just mean putting on three sweaters and hitting the elliptical. Sweat all you want, a lot will just be water weight. Seriously, get a trainer or join a class where someone can observe you if you have any health concerns and go to a point where you want to throw up. But do not be reckless, always stay in control. It’s all about confidence.

Do what you need to do in order to strengthen that core and look and feel how you want.