ABsolutely Core Crazed- Part VI
View previous posts in this series, ABsolutely Core Crazed.
If you have been following this series, then you have a lot to keep you busy for awhile working toward those ripped abs! More importantly, you will be making the trunk of your body stable and strong. Strong arms and legs are great but without a strong center structure from which those limbs sprout from, you are inviting injury and fatigue.
As I said in Part I, if you work your core for no other reason than to prevent back problems, that’s a good enough reason.
When it comes to core work, here is what I DON’T recommend:
- Counting cardio exercise as your core work. Plain and simply, it just isn’t enough.
- Stability ball over and unders: These are recommended by trainers a lot and I find them extremely harmful to the lower back due to the leverage position of the legs. Flat on your back, you place a large stability ball between your ankles. You squeeze the ball with your feet and bring the ball up and transfer to your hands which then take the ball over your head. Then bring your straight legs up to meet your hands and like a teeter-totter go back and forth transferring the ball between your hands and feet. If your lower back comes off the ground AT ALL you are risking injury at worst or an aching back at least. If you must do this exercise, hold a smaller weighted ball between bended knees on an elevated bench.
- Bird Dog: In a doggie position on all fours, lift your right arm out straight in front while lifting your left leg back and straight. Do not twist but hold steady and straight. Alternate sides. My problem with Bird Dog is that it is a waste of time for those who execute it properly and for those that could benefit from it, they rarely ever do it right. A tiny shift/twist in the body changes the exercise and defeats the purpose. You will swear your body is straight when it isn’t. If your head is in the right position, you can’t look at yourself in the mirror to make sure you are executing properly. So unless you’re with an honest buddy watching you, give this one up.
- Crunches: 99% of folks don’t do enough of them to hold a contraction long enough to count as ab work.
Most underrated and overly criticized core exercise:
- Crunches & Contractions: I know– this one is on the DO and DON’T list. Here’s the deal, if you do enough of these and keep your abs contracted long enough, you’ll see results. If you want your abs to look fantastic, there’s nothing quite like a bunch of crunches (assuming you don’t have marshmallows on top!). If you have limited time, pick some of my other exercises that provide more functional benefits for everyday living.
Skitz Core Secrets
- Work your core even if you do no other strength training. Extra girth around the middle is a predictor of health problems to come. In other words, you’re better off having fat legs than a fat gut. You cannot work your core without working other areas of your body so it is a good bang for the buck. Aim for at least 2x per week.
- Secrets to holding a plank:
- Tip #1) Keep super still the first minute and shallow breathing
- Tip #2) Shift your weight just slightly to one arm or one leg giving other 3 limbs just a hint of a break
- Tip #3) Periodically rock side to side so slightly that someone watching wouldn’t even know you were doing it
- Tip #4) Count with your breaths, first by ones, then by fives, then by tens
- Tip #5) Trade off flexing and then releasing each arm, each leg, and your abs which increases blood flow and the releases following these contractions give relief
- Tip #6) When you’ve done the other 5, watch the clock tick and repeat “Hold On” until you reach your goal.
- Try making core your strength training focus for the day instead of always making it secondary after working arms or legs. You need fresh arms and legs to execute core work effectively so best due it when they are not already worn out.
- Make use of lap counters and stop watches to help you with counting and increasing holds to measure your improvement.
Thanks for reading my series, ABsolutely Core Crazed, and hope you will put the information to good use. I’d love your comments on which exercises you like best and what you learned from the series.
Combine these exercises with challenging cardio work and your significant other will have to mourn your love handles! Ladies, you will be pulling out those bikinis you tucked away harboring the secret message, “Maybe Someday!”
To view entire series, ABsolutely Core Crazed.