The Core Part 3- Movement System

The more I learn about the core, the more I realize when I’m using it. Or maybe it’s just that the trainer in my current workout program is big on working the core this week? Seems to me that God likes to put all of these pieces together for us slowly so that instead of being overwhelmed, we get to grow into knowing more and having a solid foundation for success. Look below for a video with one of the moves I just learned for strengthening those weak hip flexors of mine, hardcore, yet so simple.

Movement System

We’ve already learned about the Local and Global Stabilization Systems. Now that we’ve strengthened the inner it’s time to focus on how we are moving our body with the core. I’m sure you’ve heard of all the muscles in this group, the Latissimus dorsi(lats), Hip flexors, Hamstring complex and the Quadriceps(quads.) Think armpits to knees, all these muscles help you sit, stand, and twist and turn. Working together, all the groups we have been learning about really keep us stable and functioning.

core3

Time To Muscle Up!

Enough blabbering, show you the moves right?!? I chose a minimum of one exercise for each of the muscle groups listed above. Plus a bonus workout that will hit multiple groups with one exercise, I’m all about multitasking, or killing two birds with one stone. Life is busy and being able to shorten up that workout means it’s more likely to happen.

However you decide to mix and match your core routines, I would try to incorporate at least one of these moves daily. Don’t skip an area because if you become weak in one zone it can affect the rest of them. We are looking for total body/core balance here.

Disclaimer {{If you have any unique or special medical conditions, such as if you’re pregnant, or if you have a history of knee, ankle, shoulder or spinal (back or neck) problems, you must consult with a competent and reliable physician to understand all risks, contraindications and complications of starting this exercise list, and receive authorization from them before beginning. Failure to do so could result in significant injury to you and others (including, if applicable, your unborn child). By using this program, you assume all dangers, hazards and risks of injury in the use of this program.}}

Latissimus Dorsi

This is one area I know I’m weak in too…

Reverse Snow Angels

  • Lay face down on the ground with arms at your sides and palms facing down.
  • Lift your shoulders and hands a few inches off the ground by pinching your scapula together and engaging your lats and rhomboids in your mid-back.
  • Keeping your head facing down, in a slow motion, raise your arms up past your shoulders and up to your ears until your hands meet above your head.(Shown is the modified version, move the arms only halfway so that they are even with your shoulders and then return to starting position.)
  • Make sure to keep the arms straight and elbows locked through the entire movement to engage your lats and shoulders.
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 5 reps, with 30-60 seconds of rest between sets.

reverse-snow-angel

Hip Flexors

Mountain Climbers

I’ve been doing a lot of these on Insanity.  Only it is more of a running in plank movement. Here we are using a sliding on the floor motion. You will need some towels, slides, or something similar that will slide smoothly on your floor. Paper plates even work well in a pinch.

  • Put your feet on the sliders and move into a push-up position.
  • To perform the movement, simply pull one knee at a time up toward your chest, going as high as you can while keeping your foot on the slider. You can alternate legs with each rep or do sets of one leg at a time. Not only will you be working your hips but your shoulders will get in on the action too.

mountain-climbers

This is the killer move I was telling you about, try it if you dare!!

Hamstring Complex

It’s a little more difficult to get a good hamstring workout without using weights or equipment but if you get creative, you can make it work.

Glute-ham Walks

This exercise will work both the hamstrings and the glutes.

  • With knees bent lie on your back. Lift your toes up so that only your heels are touching the ground.
  • Now lift your hips up until they are inline with your shoulders and knees. Squeeze your bottom and engage your abs. Now start slowly walking one foot at a time away from your body with small steps until you get to the point where your legs are fully extended.
  • Your hips are always extended, never let them fall. Walk your feet back into position. Do that for 5-10 reps or as many as you can get done in a few minutes.

glute-ham-walk

Flutter Kicks

Be sure to tighten your ab muscles during this workout, it will help you to avoid arching your back. A great workout for your hamstrings. I was already feeling the burn just taking the pictures for this move!

  • Start by laying flat on your stomach.
  • Lift one leg a few inches off of the ground.
  • Slowly lower that leg while you start to raise the other.
  • Repeat for 15 reps at three sets.

flutter-kicks

Quadriceps

Lunges

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Place your hands on your hips for added balance and engage your core by drawing your navel in toward your spine.
  • Step your right foot off the floor and lunge forward, landing with with your heel first, then your toes. Drive your hips towards the floor to create a 90-degree bend at both knees.
  • Push off your right leg to return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg. If you want to you can alternate legs for a total of 30 lunges each set, or until you are burning good enough that you don’t think you can do one more! Want to make it harder? Try jumping from lunge to lunge, yowza!

lunges

A Little Bit of Everything

Burpees

I wouldn’t be Spartan if I didn’t share this move with you. Don’t worry, there are many ways to modify this move to take the intensity down a notch and also many ways to increase the intensity. This is the best whole body workout move I’ve every found, maybe there are others but this gets a little bit of everything.

  • Start in a standing position, feet shoulder width apart.
  • Drop into a squat position and place your hands on the ground.
  • Jump or step your feet back into a plank position, while keeping your arms extended.
  • Add in the Push-up if you are ready, from your feet or your knees if needed.
  • Return your feet to the squat position.
  • Stand up or jump up from the squat position.

 

Next?

Now that we’ve mastered the core, I asked for suggestions on what to focus on next. Interval training is the winner! Keep an eye out for an update on my Insanity progress next week and then before the end of the month we will discuss the importance of Interval Training in your workout routine.

If you have any questions about the movements here, shoot me an email at DarcisFitKick@gmail.com

Happy sweating!

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The Core Part 2

I hope you are returning for more! If you are new, please visit my Part 1 and check out the exercises I shared first. You wouldn’t jump into the ocean without first learning to swim right? Well, I want you to follow the same principles here. Hopefully after a bit of time strengthening your Local Stabilization System, you are ready to work on your Global Stabilization System.

Global Stabilization System

These muscles connect your pelvis to the spine. There are bunch of muscles that do this job, that quite honestly, I had to look up to figure out where exactly they were located. I was going to spare you the boring details but maybe you want to look up the different muscle groups and expand your expertise. The muscles included in this group are the quadratus lumborum, psoas major, external oblique, parts of the internal oblique, rectus abdominus, gluteus medius and the adductor complex(adductor magnus, adductor longus , adductor brevis, gracilis and pectineus.) I’m going to focus on one specific muscle because I know it is my weak point. That is the Psoas.

What is the Psoas?

The psoas actually has two components, the psoas major (spine to legs) and the psoas minor (spine to pelvis.) I’m going to focus on the major because working on that part will also strengthen the minor. Did you know the psoas is the ONLY muscle that connects the spine to the legs? Never really thought about that before, makes me curious to learn more about different muscles.Think of your psoas as your hip flexor. If you look at the picture below, you’ll see what I mean.

psoas2

I love my Books of Discovery, “Trail Guide to the Body Flashcards Vol. 2.” I never realized how many different muscle groups there are. In school you learn hamstrings, quads, calves and abs, nothing about how many different muscles make up those groups. Our bodies are so complex and fascinating!

 

I’m not for sure, so don’t quote me, but I imagine a lot of women are weak in this area too. While apparently I’ve been “blessed” in the area of my tush and it’s all the rage to have a big bum, I have a tendency to push out my assets. Bigger is better. I’m not alone right? I didn’t realize it until I started focusing on my posture during the Three Week Yoga Retreat. Think about your posture, do you keep your hips tucked in line with your back when you are standing? How about when you are sitting? I used to think that I had really tight hamstrings but it’s actually my hip flexors causing the problems. They aren’t naturally supporting my spine/hip/leg connection because I’ve been too focused on making my booty go pop! I found this video on YouTube that really breaks down how our hip flexors work in a simple way, plus, bonus, he reinforces my dislike of crunches!

Strengthening the Global Stabilization System

I want to share with you one of the most important keys to keeping your core/hip flexors with optimal function. It doesn’t really require “exercise,” it requires you to get up and move. There are all sorts of gadgets now that shows how active you are, your phone, Fitbit, etc. Getting your workout in is great but if all you do the rest of the day is sit on the couch or sit at a desk, you are training those flexors to be tight. Get up and walk around as often as you can. Fill up that water bottle and drink it, that will help you get in to the habit of moving by making you go to the restroom!

The exercises I’m providing below still aren’t sit ups. Can you tell those aren’t my favorite move? I’ve even given the option to do one of the exercises with a buddy because having a partner in crime makes the hard work seem a little more tolerable or maybe it’s that misery loves company? The first 3 exercises focus on the psoas. The following will be different parts of the global stabilization system.

You could try adding this into your already established Local Stabilizer System movements. Remember, if you don’t use it you lose it, you want to continue doing the previous routines. Maybe do two of those and two to four of these a day to start.  Try doing 1 exercise, resting for 30-60 seconds and doing another, repeat each circuit 2-3 times. I recommend you starting small and working your way up to they higher reps. Overexerting yourself can result in injury, even if you feel good, you could be doing more than your body is ready for. Mix and match them how you please, but remember to use your best judgement and don’t over do it.

Disclaimer {{If you have any unique or special medical conditions, such as if you’re pregnant, or if you have a history of knee, ankle, shoulder or spinal (back or neck) problems, you must consult with a competent and reliable physician to understand all risks, contraindications and complications of starting this exercise list, and receive authorization from them before beginning. Failure to do so could result in significant injury to you and others (including, if applicable, your unborn child). By using this program, you assume all dangers, hazards and risks of injury in the use of this program.}}

Psoas

Standing Gate Openers

This move is more of a stretch than anything, you will be strengthening but also working on your range of motion.

  • Stand with your feet about hip width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Lift your left foot and flex your left knee, drawing it toward your chest. When your thigh is parallel to the floor or higher, move your knee to the right, across the middle of your body, and then to the left, opening your hip as far as possible.
  • Return to the starting position; then repeat with your right leg. Continue alternating sides for your desired number of repetitions.
  • Make this move harder by adding on some ankle weights.

unnamed

Leg Raises & Throws

Raises by yourself

  • Lie on your back with your legs above your waist.
  • Slowly lower your legs as far as you can without your lower back lifting off the floor. Remember to keep your core tight to support your spine.
  • Raise them back up and repeat.

Throws with a partner

(If you are a beginner to exercise or core work, I’d say this is more of an advanced move.)

  •  Lie on your back with your legs above your waist, toes pointed to the ceiling. Have a partner stand above your head and forcefully push your feet forward. Allow your legs to head toward the floor.
  • Slow your legs down and stop them before they touch the floor; then lift them back up so your partner can push them again.
  • Have your partner push harder to make the exercise more challenging.

raises

Hanging Leg Lifts

Equipment needed: Pull-up bar, monkey bars or any bar that will hold your body weight so your feet can’t touch the ground. Sorry I didn’t get a picture for this one, the weather outside is frightful! If you have any questions, just shoot me a message and I will help you as best as I can.

  • Hang from the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing forward and feet together.
  • While keeping your knees and hips flexed, lift your knees upward as high as possible, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
  • Try not to swing your legs when bringing your knees up.
  • You can wear ankle weights here too.

Quadratus Lumborum & External Oblique

This move actually works more than those two muscles but they are the ones I want you to be focused on.

Side Plank

  •  Lay on the floor on your side. Place your hand on the floor under you and straighten your arm, raising the top half of your body off the ground.
  • You can raise the other arm straight over you or let it sit on your hips.
  •  Just like regular plank you want to keep your legs straight, let the lower half of your body rest on the side of your bottom foot.
  • If you aren’t quite strong enough to hold a side plank, bend the bottom leg and rest it on the floor while maintaining the top leg out straight.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can and then repeat on the other side. Aim for 30 seconds and move your way up to a minute.

side-plank

Internal and External Oblique

Lying Twist

Don’t forget that you want to keep your shoulders on the ground. If you are raising them up in the twist you are taking away from the workout you could be giving your core.

  • Lie on your back with arms outstretched (T position), palms facing down.
  • Raise your knees up to a 90-degree angle. Lower knees down to one side.
  • Slowly rotate your knees to the other side through a count of 10.
  • Hold and squeeze for 2 seconds at the maximum tension point, about 1 inch from the ground or as far as you can go without your shoulders lifting off the ground. (Please note, I need to work on my flexibility here…)
  • Then rotate to the other side through a count of 10.

lying-twist

Adductor Complex

You may need a chair for this move if your balance isn’t strong. Trying to hold my leg up while my son took the picture, yowza!

Swinging Leg Raise

  • Stand next to a chair, hold onto it if needed. Stand on one leg.
  • Keeping your raised leg straight, swing it as far out to the side as possible, and swing it back down, allowing it to cross in front of the standing leg.
  • Repeat this movement 5-10 times, increasing the range of motion as you go.

swinging-leg

Gluteus Medius

Lateral Band Walk

This is one of my favorite moves, it seems so simple but you will be feeling the burn! This was probably my most favorite move in The Master’s Hammer and Chisel. (You can see my awkward attempt at a how to video here.) This requires a resistance band. You can make the intensity harder or easier depending on how tight you hold the band.

  • Stand with your feet approximately 6″ apart. Step on your resistance band and crisscross it over your feet, holding onto the bands either at the handle or choke up on it for more resistance.
  • Take 2 steps to the right making sure after each step your feet stay approximately 6″ apart.
  • Then take 2 steps to the left.
  • Repeat for 30-60 seconds or 15 times on each side per set.

 lateral-band

Ready for more?

I’m ready to get part three done so we can start talking about another target area. Check back in a couple weeks to see even more core moves, but until then can you do me a favor? Send me a note with the area you’d like to learn about next!

Those who lift, know strength training is the bees knees! 

Why is strength training important???

1. Muscle helps you keep the fat off! 

One study shows that adding strength training to your workout regimen 3 days a week can help increase the amount of calories burned during normal activities. Why? Because the more muscle you are having to work the more you are going to burn! You burn calories during strength training but did you know that your body continues to burn more calories after your workout? Strength training can boost your metabolism up to 20 percent.

2. Protects those bones!

Adding strength training helps prevent bone loss. Did you know that you lose approximately 1% of your bone mass every year after the age of 40? Calcium alone can’t fix all the damage, you need to contribute to the cause too!  A research study by Ontario’s McMaster University(1) found that a year-long strength training program increased the spinal bone mass of postmenopausal women by nine percent! I know so many people with degenerative disks in their back and strengthening the core will help.

3. Work it, harder, make it, better, do it, faster, makes us, STRONGER… (Did you read that without singing it?)

Strength training benefits all athletes. Losing fat mass can make you lighter, which intern takes strain off over other movements. Making your muscles work to contract makes you stronger. If you think about it, which is easier: Jumping while holding a 10lb rock or jumping with nothing? Training with the rock is going to make you jump higher when you don’t have the rock. Muscles do need time to recover with strength training. It’s recommend to break strength training into sections, back & chest, arms, legs, etc. so that you have rest time before straining those muscles. Did you know that strength training actually causes tiny tears in the muscle, which “scars” and creates a bigger mass but also strengthens them? Don’t be discouraged ladies, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone complain about firm round buns. 😉

4. Helps with posture.

Strength training can help improve your balance and posture, your core contributes to a just about every body function. Making those muscles stronger will help take the strain off your back. Making sure you have proper form when lifting can even increase your rage of motion. I included a website below that lists a few really great strength training exercise for better posture. (2)

5. Stay a little healthier!

Many health benefits from strength training, suggested it may help with arthritis pain, help maintain glucose levels in diabetics, increase bone density. Arthritis sufferers will benefit from strength training because you’re strengthening the muscles that support the joint, helps take the strain off. A Harvard study(3) found that men who do at least 150 minutes of strength training per week cut their risk of type 2 diabetes by about 34%… What is there not to like about that?

6. Introducing Dr. Feel-good 

Strength training gives a natural boost of endorphins. Going to the gym and doing lite sets probably won’t get you going. Push yourself and get to feeling that burn, or as I like to call it the Jell-O effect, you know you work so hard you feel like Jell-O!  I always feel better after kickin’ my own butt at a workout. When you’re feeling down and speak to a doctor, one of the first questions they so is do you exercise regularly? It’s a natural antidepressant. It will even help you sleep better and just feel better in general(4). Cardio is good for mood boosting too, helps me to run my stress off!

Who does strength training benefit?

The answer is EVERYONE! Don’t be discouraged by weight machines. Every gym I’ve ever been to has someone standing around who would be more than happy to show you how to use a machine! If you still aren’t comfortable try starting with small hand weights. YouTube has plenty how to videos. Please check out mine HERE. Just remember not to bite off more than you can chew. It is better to work your way up than to risk injury. Don’t be afraid to ask me any questions you may have too! Darcisfitkick@gmail.com

If you have a previous injury or health condition, please talk to your doctor about the best place to start your new strength training at.

(1) https://macsphere.mcmaster.ca/bitstream/11375/11343/1/fulltext.pdf This one is a long article but it has a lot of great facts if you have the desire to learn more about the study and other studies too.

(2) http://www.livestrong.com/article/371062-weight-lifts-that-improve-posture/

(3) http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/add-strength-training-to-your-fitness-plan?utm_source=heart&utm_medium=pressrelease&utm_campaign=heart0615

(4) http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-and-depression-report-excerpt I really like the Harvard website. They have done a lot of medical studies that just fascinate me. If you’re curious about something specific Google a Harvard study on it, lots of info.