Posts Tagged core

Bosu balls rule

I was preparing for my Core class at lunch time today and I had to think of something that was different from just planks and boring stuff. Last week I did a swiss ball workout and it turned out really well so this week I went with the bosu ball! It challenged my imagination and I had some help from youtube. So I thought for this post, I would talk about the benefits of incorporating bosu ball training into your training regime!

Most people know what a swiss ball is. To me the swiss ball is a more advanced tool after the bosu ball, the bosu ball is great for beginners to challenge their balance. You can do any exercise oh the bosu ball, some have to be modified but it is a great challenge for your core.

The black side is used more for balance, it acts like a wobble board, you can build up to this black side by using the blue side. The blue side has more stability but is still wobbly, it is made of plastic and air so it is somewhat bouncy. I usually always get beginners to use the blue side, it’s more friendly, they feel like they can do the exercise without getting too discouraged. If you’ve been working out for a while and want a challenge, the black side it is! It’s a great way to do squats, get a partner and throw a medicine ball at each other while doing squats, fun!! You can do split squats with your foot on the black side, or off the black side,  you can do pushups on the black side, do pushups off the black side. You can do a plank on either side, mountain climbers on the back side.

This is the workout I put my class through today

Pushups off the bosu ball (knees are on the blue part) with a leg extension after the pushup.

Lunges on or off (black or blue side) for 8 reps each side.

Shoulder press with the bosu ball, advanced modification is an isometric squat while shoulder pressing. 8 reps

Bosu plank (black or blue side depending on ability or preference) 30″

Reverse straight leg crunches, lifting one leg at a time when crunching. 8 reps.

Bridge (black or blue side) with leg circles while holding the bridge to really burn the glutes. 8 reps.

1 lap around the gym.

I did this workout in a pyramid setting so this was the pyramid

 8 reps: 1 lap > 10 reps: 2 laps > 12 reps: 3 laps > 14 reps: 4 laps.

They were getting pretty toasted by the end of the class, it was awesome. There weren’t enough bosu balls so a few of them did the exact same workout with a swiss ball, dammmm I was impressed! Rock those abs!

If you try this workout let me know how ya feel! It’s always good to change it up!

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The love of a life in a culture of death

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Pre-Mommy neccessity: Take care of your Core!

While I was in school, we all had to design this pamphlet about something or another, it was a little promotional book basically. I wanted to do something that was educational for me, something I had to research and also something that would be useful for me to use in the future, so chose the topic: “Exercising while Pregnant.”

If you asked me now where I put the booklet, I couldn’t even give you the slightest clue as to where it was, my prof printed some extras out wrong for me so I think I threw them out. The thought came to me this morning on my way to work,  how important it is to prep your core before you get pregnant (if you think you’re going to get remotely pregnant within the new few years), strengthening your core doesn’t happen overnight.

I think the thought that spurred this was a post by Dean Somerset (who is amazing!), a personal trainer amongst other awesomeness out West who made a post about what can happen to your Core AFTER you have babies: Read his post Here!

First would be to learn how to do kegels, you’re going to be doing this a lot while you’re pregnant, might as well get to know them well now! Here’s a website dedicated to Kegel\’s for women, a must read if you decrease your chances of not being able to control your urine after your pregnancy. Your muscles of your pelvic floor become more weakened as you get older, so these are suggested if you are older than 40 and are starting to struggle with those problems.

I would also recommend these exercises to strengthen your whole core, especially your back. Having an additional 30+ pounds on the front of you for 9 months can absolutely demolish your back if it isn’t strong enough. I know I for one have an AWFUL core! In college I was considered by some of my classmates to be the ab-girl, only cause I was obsessed with abs, but really now when I look back, I was doing too many “ab” exercises and not enough “Core” exercises. Onto the exercises, here goes:

#1. Plank. Okay everyone hears planks, they really are amazing, it’s an isometric exercise which utilizes your whole core as a unit which is great: Rectus abdominis (the 6 pack), Obliques, Glutes, QL, hip flexors, it’s a great exercise and there are so many variations! Start with a hold for 30 seconds and see how that goes, take a rest and perform minimum of 3 sets.

 One of the biggest mistakes when performing a plank are letting your lower back sink down a little bit creating a lordosis. You don’t want this to happen. Also don’t let your feet sit back, shift your weight as much forward as you can, so you are more on your toes.  The plank can be on your hands like the picture shown to the left it can be done on the elbows (I prefer elbows).

#2. Side Plank. The Side plank only works more the QL and the Obliques, this is a great balance exercise as well.

 Maybe that picture is a bit overboard, but you get the pictures, don’t be too distracted by the shaved chest, lol. The arm should be right underneath the shoulder, head should be facing forward. IF someone were to come over and look right down at you, you should be in a perfect straight line.

If two feet on top of each other is too much that’s okay you can spread them apart to have a bit more of a base of support.

#3. Crunches. This is a simple but easy exercise which can be made more difficult. You start in a sit up position, but instead of lifting your whole torso off the floor you are only lifting your head/shoulders off the ground. Head and shoulders stay aligned and your neck DOES NOT move, hand should be on the side of your head and not behind the neck. If you find your neck moves, find a place on the ceiling and stare at that while you do your crunches, your neck won’t move! If you want to make these more difficult, you can do reverse crunches where you bring your knees and your shoulders together at the same time and down at the same time.

You can also do scissor kicks with your legs alternating with each crunch, gets a little bit more of the hip flexor and lower rectus abdominis.

You can also do the crunch on the swiss ball if you have a bit better balance. If you haven’t done this exercise before, don’t try it alone! Always have a spotter if you’re new to a swiss ball.

#4. Pall Of Press. This is definitely a slightly more advanced exercise, if you absolutely new to the gym and ab/core setting, I’d probably save this for later. If you aren’t, then bring it on! This exercise is great because the core is designed to resist movement, and this specifically targets this.

 You don’t want to be moving or twisting at all during this exercise.

#5.  Bridge. This exercise is more for the glutes, but they are part of the Core unit as they help reduce a lordosis and help the spine perform as it should. Glutes are oftentimes weak and because of that whole trunk is not a stable unit, less stability and more room for injury and moving in ways that shouldn’t happen and then pop, something goes out-of-place. 

With the bridge you start laying on the ground, your knees are up, hands are palms facing down on the ground by your side, you then lift up your butt so you create a nice smooth angle line, you’re squeezing your butt while you hold this position. Hold for a few seconds and then go back down. That’s your rep!

                                                                                                   

You can make this exercise more difficult by lifting a leg, but then you want to make sure you maintain LEVEL HIPS, most often times if you try and lift your leg you will shift to one side so you can keep your leg up, that’s not good. We want level hips, your hips shouldn’t move when the leg goes up.

I could give you about a million more exercises to help with stabilization of core, but I’ll stick with these basic 5 exercises for now. If you want more difficult variations leave me a comment and I can supply some more!

Don’t be afraid to start, the core is very important! We are talking about your spine here, give that baby some extra support by protecting your spine!

I’ll get into exercise whilst pregnant at another time. =)

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The Pushup

Okay so everyone loves pushups (or should) because it’s a full body exercise and recuits a lot more muscles then you think!

Now, males pretty much own the pushup (not all, but the majority), because of their centre of gravity, they are naturally have much more muscle on the top/shoulders than women do. Women have… hips, which makes it more difficult for their perfect pushup technique.

First off, if you are interested or you love doing pushups, take a look at yourself on a floor length mirror (has to touch the floor) or take a video of yourself to analyse your pushup. You want to look for these things:

– How far is your chest getting to the floor

 

 

– Is your mid back sagging?

– Do your elbows wing out the more you do the pushups

– You do the worm, your chest comes up off the floor before your hips do.

– You drop your head.

Here are my tips for your pushups if you can do a pushup but want to work on your form:

Tip #1: watch where you put your arms. When your arms are out wide like the letter T, it puts more strain on your shoulders and also doesn’t recruit your pectoralis muscle at the greatest percentage. Your elbows should  look more like this:

Tip #2: If you feel like you’re going to collapse on your pushups because you can’t get down low enough, hit up the bench pressing! You will definitely need to strengthen your pecs as well as your triceps, so exercises like Cable Chest Press, Assissted Dips, Cable Fly, etc. Exercises for the triceps: Bench dips, skull crushers, Tricep extensions with a cable.

Tip #3: If your back is sagging, your hip flexors/rectus abdominis/obliques are weak. Exercises to help get rid of that sagging or worminess: Plank for time, Dynamic Planks: tap out with one hand at a time, alternating, move your whole body to the side, back to the centre, and out to the other side. PallOfPress, Hip Raise, V-ins. 

Weak glutes can also attribute to this, so to aid in strengthening your core you could do some 4 point leg extensions, bridges, Fire – hydrants.

Tip #4: It is more important to do pushups with perfect form (even if you have to modify them) than to do 30 reps doing the worm and not being able to get down low enough. Always aim for perfect pushup. If you have to do them off of a step (incline) that’s fine, or on your knees. If your elbows start winging out, make note and re-adjust.

Tip #5: You won’t know you have a tendency of dropping your head unless someone else is watching you or you are very mindful of yourself and you make a mental note. Try and look at something a little farther away from you on the floor and make sure to keep your eyes on it and that will keep your head level, NOT looking up, but in line with your spine.

When performing a pushup, the body moves as one whole unit, two parts of your body should not be moving at two different times or not moving at all.

Um…. I can’t do a pushup?

That’s okay! I am still working on my perfect form and don’t ever say that you can’t do a pushup. If you want to get into training for pushups realize that it is going to take a while but don’t get discouraged. Set your mind, set a schedule, workout minimum 3 times a week strength training. (But don’t forget to work your back, you need to pull just as much as you push!)

Start with some simple exercises that I mentioned above. Start working on incline pushups which can be done quite well on a Smith machine because it’s adjustable. Start with pushups on a wall. Consistency is key!

After a period of time you will  see that your strength will improve greatly!

Any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask!

And also, if you’re into pushups you MUST check out this article, it has great tips, more information on pushups and awesome exercises:

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_best_damn_pushups_article_period

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