No matter how you slice it, you really can't get around the necessity of training core.  Whether you're dealing with knee pain, low back pain, or hip pain, chances are, at some level your core is involved.  You would be amazed at how frequently I've used a bit of self-massage (rolling on Energy F/X Tube), some effective stretching, and solid core work to address all sorts of pain issues. 

Yes, I know most of us only think about the vanity aspects of having a 6-pack to show off in the warmer weather, but it's bigger than that.  Core strength is part of keeping your body in alignment (think car tires). If your core is weak, the structures that connect to it, for instance your hips, can't maintain alignment or stability.  And if the hip can't maintain stability how will it keep your legs and knees in alignment when you sit for long periods, walk or run. 

Remember, everything is connected. 

Ignore training your core properly long enough and it's like ignoring putting oil in your car -- eventually you'll have to address it . . . . . or else.

So as promised here's another core movement to keep you progressing.  This is a progression from last week's post.  And of course if you've missed any of the exercises I've shared with you, or need some motivation, check out my You Tube Channel.

Had some technical difficulties yesterday.  Can you say no internet or cable?  Thank goodness they came and fixed it quickly.

Now on to the business at hand.

This month I'm sharing with you core exercises using the Swiss Ball.  The purpose of the Swiss Ball, if you're not familiar with it, is to add increased instability.  By adding increased instability to your training, you increase the functioning and efficiency of your core musculature.

And as you all already know, a strong core is one of the most important aspects of being fit.  You can't truly call yourself in-shape if your core doesn't function properly.  Because to be quite honest, all movement first comes from the core.  It stabilizes your body just prior to any movement you do.  And if it's weak, other muscles take over a job they are not meant to do.  Now of course we all know what happens when you use the wrong tool for a job -- in this case possible injury. 

So don't skip the important exercises.  Train the muscles that matter as well as the muscles you can see.



I'll have another one for you next week.

Last month after sharing with you some very challenging exercise on the suspension straps, I promised to provide you with some new movements for core that you can do on the Swiss Ball.

Actually, as I'm sure you already know, getting results and providing an effective workout for my clients is all about understanding progressions.  Meaning understanding how to go from simple to complex with any given movement/exercise.  Unfortunately most people go for the most "interesting"-- usually meaning the more difficult progression of an exercise.  Probably because it looks so impressive to observe. However you have to understand that it is probably being done by someone who has already put in the time doing the previous progressions.


Not following the order of easy to difficult is a good way to get injured.

In regards to the core, start off doing your movements from the ground (obviously a very stable surface).  Then proceed to a more challenging version of the exercise by moving to the Swiss Ball (which provides some instability and increased challenge), then consider using the suspension straps after mastering the previous movements.  That way you don't risk injury and can be sure you will keep making progress as well as keeping your routine interesting.

So by example, this is what a good challenging progression would look like (in the second video I show you all 3 options):








Now it's important for you to understand that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of progressions that could be followed.  This is just an example of one way to do it (from the ground, to the Swiss ball, to the wheel, and then of course the suspension straps).  The key is to not allow your ego to get ahead of your skills -- that's a recipe for injury.

Bottom line is to keep moving forward challenging yourself with different movements and types of equipment so that you can keep motivated and making progress.

Be sure to check back in with me next week for another new movement for core using the Swiss Ball.

Well this is the last exercise for the series on different movements you can do on the suspension straps (Jungle Gym XT). Of course there are literally hundreds of movements you can do on the straps, but as the month comes to a close I want to move on to share some new movements using the Swiss Ball.

Yes, I do realize that I say it all the time. 

Core fitness is 70-80% of being truly fit

The truth is, you can't perform to near your capability or avoid injury as well if your core is not fit and functional.  And I'm not just talking about being lean and having a 6-pack to show off.  Heck, that's just a matter of having a great metabolism and/or sticking to a good nutrition program.  No, having a 6-pack to show off has nothing to do with how well your core functions.

The funny thing is no matter what your sport, a strong and stable core is the basis of all movement.  Ask someone with back or hip pain how important is a strong and stable core.  And for those of you stuck at a desk all day long it's even more important. 

Why?

Because you're stuck at a desk all day long in a seated position. Your core is literally shut off for most of the day.  Muscles function better the more you use them.  Kind of like your brain.  The more you exercise virtually any muscle, the better it will function and ideally the longer it will last.

Thus the importance of exercising a minimum of 4-5 times per week.  Your body, your hormones, your mind and your spirit need that challenge to continue to function at their best.  Like your brain, if you don't exercise it regularly it goes bad a lot sooner than you realize.  Trust me on that one.

But I digress.

Today, I wanted to share with you one more version of the core exercise commonly known as plank.  In this version you are forced to have a strong and stable core as it relates to each side of your body independently, not just when both legs are there to support you.  It's a great next step after you've mastered last weeks example.

Remember, check back in with me each Friday next month where I will be sharing some core exercises using the Swiss Ball.

I know you've heard it over and over again, but I'm unfortunately going to say it again.  I hope I don't offend you in the process:

Transforming your body (think getting rid of body fat) is 80% nutrition

Having a fit body (think being able to do the things you truly like and not risk getting hurt) is 70-80% core fitness

Sometimes people jump to conclusions, so let me be really specific so I don't get misquoted.

Yes, you can do less than 80% on your nutrition and still get results.  The problem is I have only met a hand full of people that are willing to train that hard, or the person has incredible genetics and doesn't have to work that hard.  And by the way, there are very few people in the latter group.

Most of us do have to monitor what we eat and how much.  It's part of the process.  If you want your body to change you have to do something different than you've been doing, to get results.  Keep doing the same thing and expecting different results is . . . .

Well, you know what that's called.

So it stands to reason that if you want to avoid back pain, you're going to have to do something different than those monotonous crunches.  Sure you'll feel a burn in your midsection, but that doesn't mean you're really training your core effectively.  I fell asleep on my arm the other day and when I woke up it tingled.  But I'm pretty sure that didn't mean I had trained my arm effectively.

If you haven't been training core and need some movements to help get you started, check out You Tube Channel. Or stay tuned because next month, each Friday, I'll be sharing with you some core movements using the Swiss Ball.  It's a great next step after doing the one's listed on my channel.

Now, if you've been training core you already know the benefits and importance of doing those movements regularly.  But once in a while it's nice to throw in a little variety to keep things interesting and motivating.

Here's another one to add to the list. 

Feb
11
2011
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A hammer breaks glass, but forges steel. -- old Russian proverb

TGIF!

Hope you had a great week and this year is starting off well for you.

I want to make sure you have plenty of motivation and variety to keep you moving forward in your quest to transform your body.  Some of that comes in the form of information, tips and tricks, and some of it comes in the form of giving you new exercises to keep your choices fresh.  I know for me it's what allows me to keep myself motivated and pushing myself to the next level.

Last week I shared with you a couple of movements utilizing the suspension straps (Jungle Gym XT).  This week I'd like to share another movement that is specifically for the core. 

All too often people believe that doing endless sets of crunches and other assorted crunch type movements is all they need for a strong core. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Training your core properly takes more than crunches.  In fact, in the not too distant future, most people serious about training their core/abs, will do fewer and fewer crunches.  The truth of the matter is crunches are towards the bottom of the list when it comes to training your core/abs effectively.  Research is beginning to show that crunches, the way most people do them, is actually damaging to your spine and creates lower back pain.  With so many choices out there to train your abs/core effectively and not risk damaging your spine, why bother taking the risk?

If you need some other ideas on how to train your core/abs effectively and not risk back injury, check out  My You Tube Channel. The core exercises are specified in the title.

As the quote above suggests, you have to use the right tool for the right job.  Strengthen your core without damaging your spine.

I don't know about you, but I need variety in my training to keep me motivated and excited about my workouts.  I change my entire routine every 4 weeks, minimum.  I change:

  • the grouping (push/pull integration) of my exercises each month,

  • deciding whether I'll be emphasizing the use of dumbbells or barbell,

  • whether I will be emphasizing unilateral style training (training one side of the body at a time- think squat versus 1 leg squats),

  • what type of circuit style I'll be using,

  • and of course how I want to group the body parts, as well as an assortment of other variables. 

Why?

Because it's not only an issue of the necessary mental excitement, but keeping the body adapting to new stimuli, and thus continuing to improve in conditioning (think lower body fat) and function.  More recently I've been trying to experiment with different training methods (think battle ropes and kettlebells).

Are you familiar with Suspension Training Straps?  My personal favorite is the Jungle Gym XT. 

It is a piece of exercise equipment that basically mimics the idea of the rings used in gymnastics.  This is a great piece of equipment to add to your training routine to keep things fresh and challenging. The true beauty of this piece, I believe, is that:

  • you can go from one exercise to the next without resting;

  • even better you can make the exercise more or less difficult based on how close or far you stand from the anchor point,

  • and virtually every movement you do significantly engages your core.

Why is that such a big deal?

Because it means you can really push yourself to the end.  When you get fatigued using your standard weights (barbell or dumbbell) you usually have to either go find the another set of dumbbells to finish your set, get assistance from someone you trust, or "cheat" your way through the last few reps hoping you don't injure yourself in the process.  With suspension strap training, it's as simple as taking a few steps forward or backward to the anchor point.  Thus decreasing the chances of injury and increasing the chances of a kick butt training session.

Remember, the whole goal of working out/exercising/training, is that you can better enjoy your life on a day to day basis.  If you're not changing your workout a minimum of every 6-8 weeks, your not getting the best you could out of your training time. Today there are so many different ways to challenge yourself safely and effectively. Thus allowing you to make steady progress (think lean, beautiful, and functional body), and avoid or shorten plateaus.

Here's a little taste of Suspension Straps.  More in the coming weeks.

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. -- Galbraith's Law



You would be amazed at how many people have sent me emails and stopped me at the gym to debate with me on the research I've been sharing with all of you over the past few weeks; that slow steady state cardio does not produce as effective results as interval training. Said another way, if given 30 minutes to do slow steady state cardio or some form of interval training, you can burn more calories doing interval training and create less wear and tear on your joints.  To me that sounds like a win/win.


But it seems no matter what, some people are just committed to staying in a rut no matter how much information they receive.  If you're getting amazing results doing slow steady state cardio, by all means please continue. If however, you're getting less than amazing results and time is an issue when it comes to getting your cardio time in during the week, then I strongly encourage you, with your doctor's permission of course, to try some form of interval training for a minimum of 4-6 weeks and compare the results.

What's that old saying, "proof is in the pudding", or something like that.  Bottom line is, rather than argue the point or just push the evidence aside, try it!  The only thing you have to lose is that body fat that you don't want around anyway.

It's the last week of January, the year is already beginning to roll right by, why not get in shape and out of pain before spring.  Don't be the last one on the "no more steady state cardio" boat, be the first.

Here's a little demo of me performing the Kettlebell Swings.  I assure, it will definitely get your heart rate up and will definitely decrease the overall wear and tear on your hips, knees and lower back.  One word of caution however; Be sure to consult a certified Kettlebell instructor to make sure you are doing them correctly to avoid injury.

Get on Track and Stay on Track!

TGIF!!!

If you checked in with me on Monday you got a great peak at what's to come for rest of the fitness world in the coming months. 

No More Steady State Cardio.  It simply doesn't give you enough bang for the buck.

If you're serious about getting rid of body fat and getting seriously lean; you now know that spending hours on any cardio machine and expecting it to transform your body, is being naive.  The research is just not supporting that idea.  Now if you have a significantly low body fat, that may be another story.  But for the majority of the people out there -- no more slow cardio.

But of course the next question ends up being, So what do I do now?  So many people have been doing steady state cardio for so long they have no idea where to go from there.  Now if you'll remember I discussed with you on Monday the idea of doing intervals.  Not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination, but man does it get results. 

However, if you're looking to get completely off of the cardio machines and try something new, check out this short clip of me getting my behind kicked with Battle Ropes (this video picks up at round 7).  Because of the nature of Battling Ropes they provide plenty of variety regarding the different movements you can do.  And WOW, talk about jacking up the heart rate and getting a total body workout -- without the banging on the joints (think hip and knee trauma from too much running).  I can't thank Jerry and Gus enough for the opportunity to work with them and get my feet wet on this experience.

There are so many ways to change it up.  Keep the variety.  I'll help with a few more videos in the coming Fridays.  Bottom line -- stop wasting time doing something that doesn't work.  More studies on the way on Monday to give you more reasons to abandon the steady state cardio theory.

Here is an idea for a little change. You might even get a little chuckle out of me getting pushed.


It's time to Get on Track and Stay on Track!


They say "Time is the currency of the 21st and 22nd century".  If that's true then none of us has the time to waste doing things that doing work and don't produce measurable results.

It has also been said "Don't confuse motion with progress.  A rocking horse makes a great deal of motion, but no progress".

With those two quotes to set the tone for today's post.  It has been my intention this month to make sure you receive workout guides that make sure you get results and are not just a bunch of motion (waste of time).

Remember, whether you travel a great deal and can't make it to the gym, or just don't like the whole gym scene, there is no reason why you can't exercise and get results.  All it takes is a little creativity and few items of assistance. You don't have to make some huge investment to get a good workout or results.

Don't believe me, click on the video below.